Highlights of Nairobi Design [Week] 2023

Nairobi Design [Week] 2023 is an event that celebrates the creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit of Nairobi’s design community. From fashion to architecture, furniture to interiors, the week-long event brings together some of the most inspiring and cutting-edge design professionals from around the world.

Nairobi Design Week 2023, by Nii Nortey8

This year, Nairobi Design [formerly Nairobi Design Week] took place at Opportunity Factory by SandStorm Kenya in Karen from the 11th to the 19th of March, showcasing a plethora of work from different creatives. During the week, attendees have the opportunity to explore the latest trends and products in the fields of design and technology.

Started in 2015, Nairobi Design is a community-driven event that showcases the creativity and ingenuity of Kenyan artists across different mediums. “Nairobi design week started as a festival and a directory, and we’ve grown into an agency because we knew straight away that we had to build a community throughout the year, not just once a year,” said Nairobi Design Creative Director, Adrian Jankowiak

Drum Circle by Kake Wakake

The event was an excellent opportunity to view the work of different creatives and innovators who really do think out of the box. The event consisted of exhibition booths, installations, workshops [such as ‘Creative cosplay with Jess Atieno’] and different panels throughout the day with multiple speakers [such as ‘A sustainable fashion panel hosted by Free Mind Sessions’]. The event was visually impressive and physically and mentally engaging for everyone. From pieces depicting colourism in the black community made of clay and mesh wire by Wakianda titled ‘More Melano or Less?’ to miniature working models of big matatus/shuttle buses complete with graffiti art and functioning lights inspiration taken from Karen stage titled ‘Tupatane stage?’ There was also a chance to watch denim woven into a new fabric!

Africhibi, by Nairobi Design, new set produced by Ocean Sole, using recycled flipflops

The piece de resistance at Nairobi Design was titled ‘Tracing The Wild’, a collaboration between Sovereign Nature Institute, Kenya Wildlife Trust, and teams of artists and technologists. A data art project that tells the stories of predators in the Maasai Mara. The project is built from data reflecting the biosocial interactions of lions, hyenas, and other predators in the Maasai Mara. The installation features three life-sized wood panels etched with the landscape of the Mara and visual representations of the lions. Scanning this piece will open up a virtual reality 3-D world that shows you the path each lion has travelled within the Mara.

Tracing The Wild Virtual Reality Installation

Speaking to Adrian Jankowaik, “Nairobi Design is great because we get to say Yes to a lot of amazing things and having so many applicants and trying to curate the space to be able to fit and accommodate everyone’s needs and really finding out what those needs are in terms of what people are building. This year’s biggest installations are the bamboo dome called The Bamboo Residence and Tracing The Wild with the Sovereign Nature Initiative and Kenya Wildlife Trust. We also had our podcast Afrika Design which is in partnership with the British Council’s Sub-Saharan Africa Arts Program under the New Narratives Program. It’s really great to discover new designers, people we may not have met before, or people we may have met before, and they just blessed us with new amazing works. We had people like Nyambao who built a prototype for the festival, which is still exhibited at the site to date. A lot of the things actually have gotten to stay at the Opportunity Factory this year, which is great! I  think one of the most exciting things is just getting to appreciate and understand many people’s work and being inspired by it.”

The Bamboo dome, supported by INBAR and KEFRI

It’s clear that Nairobi Design is not just a festival showcasing some of Kenya’s brightest, most promising and most creative individuals but also a community that encourages the development of ideas and the innovation of its participants. It is lovely to see structural pieces made for the event become long-standing displays at the Opportunity Factory and garner admiration for them even after this year’s event conclusion. We look forward to all the different work and creations Adrian and his team have to show throughout the year as well as Nairobi Design 2024.

Check out more from Nairobi Design at www.nairobi.design

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