Kenya’s Jewel

Located in the Kenyan highlands, Arijiju is unlike any other safari lodge, and it’s here where conservation and luxury coexist to create the ultimate retreat. Designer Maira Koutsoudakis shares her vision behind Arijiju’s interiors.

How did the harsh Kenyan landscape come to influence the interior scheme?

Ours was a very ancient Wabi aesthetic, which seems to permeate the monastic structure of Arijiju. This took us in the direction of natural elements that would age gracefully, such as indigenous hardwood, washed linen and burnished leather. Our perception of what is valuable is one of timeworn, flawed beauty.

This was a uniquely North-meets-South collaborative project. Did this filter through into the interiors?

Absolutely. The European design influence yielded a finesse of purpose while the African aesthetic, brought in by local professionals, enriched the project with an understanding of context, culture and materiality.

How did you go about sourcing pieces for the project?

The souks and markets of the world were our shopping basket. These handcrafted pieces have lived before; they have
a spirit and a mythology.

‘It felt right to fuse the finesse of Europe with the rusticity of Africa’ – Maira Koutsoudakis

What efforts were made to keep the project as low-impact and as sustainable as possible?

Our approach was more of a ‘slow style’ that favoured reuse and recycling. To this end, we propagated the use of mainly solid, natural materials with good provenance to ensure that objects would age to become heirloom pieces. We also repurposed a lot of furniture, such as turning armoires from Jaipur into drinks cabinets.

What is the most unexpected feature of Arijiju?

That it feels like you’re in a home. It doesn’t follow a strictly modern or traditional tone, but rather fuses the two in a way that is both simple and soulful.

Read about Maira’s LIFE Grand Café, a hotspot at the V&A Waterfront here, and Newtown’s Gentleman’s Arthouse here.

For more information about Arijiju and to secure a booking, visit arijiju.com.

Photography Crookes & Jackson