October 2023

Singita Mara River Tented Camp celebrates the colours & craft of Africa

in Community

Singita Mara River Tented Camp celebrates the colours & craft of Africa

Singita Mara River Tented Camp’s recent redesign was driven by a desire to make even more prominent the beauty, skill and creativity found in East Africa – and the new design direction honours the landscapes and culture in this spectacular corner of the Lamai Triangle in northern Tanzania.

Celebrating the location was an important aspect of the redesign – both the natural beauty of the surrounding wilderness, as well as the region's vibrant design heritage. And while this has always been central to our design ethos, the camp’s refresh – a process Singita implements periodically to ensure we are maintaining the best possible guest experience – was an opportunity to more prominently communicate a sense of place. And harness the dynamism of African design, while drawing on the awe-inspiring scenery.

A collaborative process with local suppliers, artisans and designers culminated in an exciting new space that bridges unparalleled comfort and a sense of adventure, and speaks to a proudly African identity.

Collaborating with artisans across the region has given Singita Mara River Tented Camp a vibrant and boldly African identity

A creative collaboration

Sidai Designs was just one of the many local and Tanzanian studios Singita worked with for Mara River Tented Camp’s update. The studio was born out of a deep respect for the skill and artistry of the beaders of the Masaai people in northern Tanzania and started as a group of just five artisans in a small workshop in Arusha. To date, the studio (whose work is exhibited and sold all over the world) has grown to number 120 and has expanded into a centre that is open to visitors to shop and take part in beading workshops.

Sidai has worked with Singita for some time ­– the studio worked with the interior designers from Cecile & Boyd on the redesign of Singita Sabora Tented Camp and their jewellery and homeware pieces can also be found in our Boutique & Gallery spaces. The new design for Mara River Tented Camp was a welcome opportunity to collaborate once more on several large hangings for a designated feature wall.

“Our experience working with the team at Singita is always wonderful. Franco, with whom we collaborated on the Mara River project, was an absolute dream to work with. His positive energy, deep understanding of the craft sector, and genuine appreciation for artisanal work was felt and appreciated,” says Rebecca Moore, Director of Sidai.

Singita has worked with Sidai Designs before, and the studio was excited to collaborate again on another boundary-pushing project

Ancient craft for a contemporary world

The large-scale pieces designed for Mara River Tented Camp celebrate bold Maasai geometrics and colours, as well as the natural palette inspired by the camp’s surroundings and incorporate the shapes commonly used in Maasai beadwork and artefacts, with motifs also drawn from Sidai’s Warrioress collection.

The studio involved its local craft partners in this endeavour – enlisting their expertise for design decisions, and their contributions were invaluable in finding the best solutions. “One of our elder artisans, Koko Rosa, took on the challenge posed by working on such large pieces – as she always does, being one of our most skilled leather embroiderers,” says Rebecca. Koko enlisted the help of her daughter, and together they spent weeks crafting the centrepieces with determination. The result is a testament to the craftsmanship of the Maasai artisans.

"The beauty and impact of the pieces exceeded our expectations, and it gives us so much joy to see them in their rightful place,” says Rebecca.

Sidai drew on the extensive expertise of their artists to bring to life the magnificent pieces destined to occupy focal walls at Mara River Tented Camp

A shared ethos of empowerment

Sidai's belief in creating sustainable employment for Maasai women (in turn impacting multiple beneficiaries in the community) while building a broader appreciation for this highly skilled artform, is something that resonates strongly with Singita.

Similarly, our commitment to making a positive impact in the communities that neighbour our lodges and reserves drives us to work with people and organisations that uphold the same values and passion for African design and culture.

The studio's design approach is informed by a desire to share the beauty of traditional Maasai beading in a way that incorporates modern design principles – creating demand that will support this craft’s preservation. “We believe that beautiful design should empower, and that Maasai women should be able to earn a sustainable living from their craft, and we strive to create a support network for Maasai women as this in turn creates a stronger community,” says Rebecca.

By bringing this time-honoured skill into contemporary designs, Sidai's pieces allow the craft of beading to reach a new audience

Celebrating people & place

Collaborations and work like this help share African artistry with the world and demonstrate the depth and diversity of skill to be found across the continent. “We want visitors to see that African craftsmanship is more than what they see in the curio stores! The true essence of African design is a fusion of boldness, bravery and beauty,” says Rebecca.

Explore the profusion of colour, energy and texture that is Singita Mara River Tented Camp here, and start to plan your next adventure in Tanzania.

By Julia Freemantle

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