Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Mahali Mzuri in Kenya by Real Studios
June 3rd, 2014 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Real Studios
Tipped by Forbes’ magazine as one of the 20 most hotly anticipated hotel openings, Mahali Mzuri, Real Studios’ stylish Kenya Safari Camp for Virgin Limited Editions, is ready for visitors.
Real Studios co-director Yvonne Golds has brought the last word in contemporary chic to this ultimate safari camp experience, creating a vivid sense of place through the strategic use of vibrant local prints, materials and craft skills, while offering every creature comfort guests could wish for.
Twelve unique tented suites are strung along a ridge above a river, with spectacular views out over the Motorogi Conservancy at the northern edge of the Maasai Mara. From the design of the tent to the bold prints that adorn the walls and sofas, Yvonne has worked closely with local Kenyan designers and makers to bring a real integrity and organic beauty to the interiors.
Yvonne says: ‘It’s great to work with a client that gives you a lot of creative freedom. It’s also wonderful to spend time on the ground, finding the local craftspeople, designers and furniture makers and using as much as possible of local talent and local materials. In this way our designs can convey a real respect for the environment and culture in a contemporary way, and also in a way that reflects Virgin Limited Edition’s key brand values.’
The striking, contemporary safari tents have been created specifically for Mahali Mzuri by Kenyan manufacturers Canvas by Design. These bespoke, steel framed, architectural dwellings are clad in robust terracotta canvas and elephant grey lining with color inspiration drawn from the natural environment around the area. Local textile experts helped Yvonne to source exuberant African prints from the markets of Kenya and Tanzania; these she has deployed for strategic sweeps of uplifting colour in every room, giving each tent its own distinctive palette.
Yvonne also unearthed the best local furniture makers to create a stylish and eclectic array of indigenous wood and basketwork furniture and fixtures, which range from clean cut contemporary to organic and retro in style. Yvonne commented: ‘We want it to feel rich and homely, stylish but welcoming.’
Each tent features a spacious bedroom – some with four-poster beds – and a luxurious bathroom. Ten of the 12 tents are designed to sleep two adults and all can be split into twin beds. The remaining two tents are configured so that the sitting area is enclosed with sofa beds accommodating up to two additional guests.
Private deck areas are shaded by the tent’s wide curved canopy. Neutral upholstery and natural materials provide the perfect setting for the vivid African prints used in cushions, rugs and – most strikingly – in a bold fabric backdrop behind each bed; here rich patterned sections are mixed with more subdued, locally woven ‘ticking’ style fabric, in a tribute to the happy eclecticism with which local people layer Maasai patterned robes with coastal prints.
The tents are linked by decking walkways which lead towards the centrally located communal tent that comprises the dining/bar/lounge areas; adjacent to this is the spa treatment room and swimming pool with surrounding sun terraces. At breakfast and dinner, guests will dine together at a communal glass-topped table supported by a magnificent length of untreated Cedar tree trunk. Coffee tables made from sliced cross-sections of deadfall trees enhance the organic, natural vibe, as does a central fire pit feature in the lounge, adding warmth and a welcoming gathering place for cooler safari nights.
Great care has been taken over the tents’ designs, facilities, materials and operations in order to minimize Mahali Mzuri’s environmental impact and maximize benefit to the local communities.
About Real Studios
Real Studios has worked with Virgin Limited Edition for nearly a decade, successfully completing interior projects at The Roof Gardens in Kensington & Kasbah Tamadot in Morocco. The opening of Virgin Limited Edition’s luxurious Mahali Mzuri safari camp is an exciting step forward in the client/designer relationship, with Real Studios being asked to create the interior design concept from scratch.
Spring 2013 sees Real Studios expanding its reach and range with two other major new projects: the design of the V&A’s much-anticipated ‘David Bowie is’ exhibition; and the completion of a substantial £2m reinterpretation scheme for the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
Time and again, Real Studios demonstrates the benefits of their serendipitous blend of exhibition and interior skills, bringing to each project sensitivity to site and content, a strong narrative flair and a talent for contemporary, multi-format presentations.
From launch in 1998, co-founders Yvonne Golds and Alistair McCaw have sought to cover all key disciplines in-house to provide a turnkey service to clients and ensure far greater control over the finished project. In the last fifteen years the team has designed more than forty exhibitions, including the Imperial War Museum North, the award-winning ‘Airspace’ exhibition at Duxford, and two permanent exhibitions for the Natural History Museum (‘Images of Nature’ and ‘The Vault’), as well as many other permanent and temporary exhibitions. Its acclaimed interiors schemes include the aforementioned projects for Virgin Limited Edition, London’s Cumberland Hotel and Glasgow’s aspirational Alea nightclub and casino.
Real Studios’ work is typified by innovative content presentation, sophisticated and creative design solutions, and a knack for delivering maximum impact within fixed budgets and time frames.
The Art Fund Prize for Working’s Lightbox gallery and Real Studios’ local history museum.
National Lottery Best Education Project: ‘Airspace’, at the Imperial War Museum Duxford
Kensington Roof Gardens refurbishment: ‘Best UK Club’ in the BEDA Awards
Contact Real Studios