Using Culture to Enhance Ambience: Artistic Inspiration from Leather Crafts


  • Benta Oguda



Culture, Leather, Ambience, Art, Inspiration, Kenya


The choice of a theme and concept in any design work is fundamental to driving the success of a project. In this paper, the author draws attention to the use of material culture of the Maasai, Swahili and the Luo of Kenya as sources of inspiration for deriving designs to be applied on leather. The culturally inspired leather crafts have enabled the promotion of the Kenyan identity and the richness of Kenya’s artifacts. Grounded on the results of a study, and with a focus on the various techniques of leather decoration employed independently or in combination, the paper exploits the use of leather by the three cultures upon which the execution of the project was done. In the study, the author adopted use of other materials alongside leather to enhance its aesthetic value as a piece of art work or as a decorative upholster. The study being experimental in nature, data was mainly collected via various observations made in curio shops, guest houses and markets dealing with leather crafts in the industry. To demonstrate that material culture of the Luo, Swahili and Maasai (and by extension those of other ethnic groups in Africa) form an important, rich and largely untapped source of artistic inspiration for leather crafts and other art areas, the author displays photographic data indicating the culture in which each artistic work is embraced.


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