Gladys Macharia, the founder and creative director of the brand Loyangalani, is one of Kenya’s most exceptional jewellery designers. However, the home wear she designed for Urbanara, a German company that sources home wear from around the world, demonstrated that she doesn’t only excel at jewellery design.
“I am obsessed with buying Homes and Gardens… I am just obsessed with interior spaces,” Gladys tells me with a laugh as she explains how she has made all the furniture in her apartment. She is always collecting materials in the hope that she can make it into something for her house. However, on the advice of a close friend, when she launched her brand in 2011, she decided to focus on her jewellery and excel at that before branching out into other design sectors.
Late last year she entered the African Designers for Tomorrow (ADFT) competition. When Gladys found out that there were a lot of entries into the accessories category, she decided to enter the home wear section. Gladys’ decision was also informed by the realisation that the materials she uses for jewellery could easily be translated into table wear. For example, Gladys screen prints her jewellery bags and knew she could use this technique on table linen.
The aim of ADFT is to connect designers with markets by partnering them with a sponsor company that can help the winner enter into the European market through their platform. Urbanara as the sponsor for home wear provided ‘Greece’ as the theme for the ADFT home wear category. “Lots of whites, cobalt blues… pastel pinks and corals,” Gladys explains.
Within the home wear category, Gladys decided to focus on table wear because she loves setting up tables for dinners and can easily spend hours formulating a table setting. “I love dinners, love eating, love being around a good group of friends and trying to present something interesting for them.”
Despite her interest, it was a steep learning curve as Gladys had never designed a home wear collection to specification. Luckily, the Urbanara team gave her lots of support along the way. After a lot of correspondence on designs, Gladys settled on table runners, table mats, napkins and wooden napkin rings and bowls.
Gladys sourced her fabric directly from Sunflag Textile & Knitwear Mills Limited, who spin their own cotton. Gladys hand drew the prints for her collection on watercolour paper, as she “wanted the prints to have an organic finish to them rather than stark lines. I wanted it to represent the sea because the theme was Greece and summer so each of the lines is different from each other.” Gladys then transferred the prints onto tracing paper and printed the linen at Dragonfly Designs in Karen. Gladys’ collection of linen called Awasi Table Linen is now available for sale on the Urbanara site.
Photograph courtesy of Urbanara.