An Ode to
We could tell you that our products are unique, but that’s not unique: many brands can truthfully make the same claim. We are unique not only because of our origins, our dreams and the challenge we set for ourselves, but also because we have a little-known story to tell - and who doesn’t love an exclusive? Our stories are an invitation to see: through the eyes of one’s imagination and the eyes of those who have come before us.
Chanzo: A story
Our launch collection is a story of beginnings. Not just the story of our beginning as a brand, but the story that, as individuals, we all share as part of our collective human experience. We’ve called this collection "Chanzo", a classic Swahili word meaning "beginnings" or in some contexts "the source" because through each piece we wanted to tell a universal story of beginnings through the lens of Africa’s cultural heritage. That’s the genesis of Chanzo (pun most definitely intended).
From Earth to Life
When we began researching materials with which to create the Chanzo collection, we looked around our environment for a material that was intrinsically linked to beginnings. We were also inspired by oral tradition, the creation myths and legends passed down through the generations. Like the West African legend of creation where two spirit people are sent to Earth by the god of the sky. They arrive at their destination and find themselves alone and bored so, sitting at a riverbank, they begin to mold clay figures of children, and the human race is born.
We were also inspired by oral tradition, the creation myths and legends
And then along the same lines, there’s the one where the god of the sky (he pops up a lot in African mythology) sends his son, Oduduwa, from the heavens to the ancient river below, down a great chain. Oduduwa takes with him a handful of soil, a palm nut and a chicken with five toes. He casts the soil over the ancient river and sets the chicken to work, spreading, scratching and scattering it to form the first continent where he then plants his Comment [WL1]: but also of originsComment [WL2]: origins palm nut.
The Mother Element
In both these tales, we observe the powerful significance of soil as relates to beginnings, "the mother element" respected and revered across many cultures within and outside of Africa and the inspiration for our use of clay in our beginnings. We see soil as a constant reminder of those who have gone before us. A link to our beginnings. We draw parallels between the traditional use of soil to seal lifelong relationships and our intention to seal the same long-lasting relationships with SIWWAA customers.
So at the core of the Chanzo collection is the earth. Created almost entirely out of ceramic made from a type of clay that can only be found in a specific area at the foot of Mount Kenya. This clay is special because it has unique properties that ensure the longevity of products made from it. It was also an excellent way to showcase a lesser-known form of African craftsmanship - African ceramics, employing a modern day expression of a craft that has only just begun to appear on the global map, in a contemporary reinterpretation, thanks to ceramicists such as Magdalene Odundo.
A story of generations
As you immerse yourself in the visual world of Chanzo, you can’t fail to notice our focus on the earth as the traditional "feminine source". Our use of female models, young and old in the visual narrative alludes to this. We tell the story of generations, and the story of the brand – The passing down of heritage from one to the other.
Our photography and videography will fill your senses with the spectacular landscapes of Kenya’s stunning Rift Valley, the cradle of mankind, giving you a glimpse of the beautiful Lake Magadi area and the Olorgosaile archaeological site, where Homo erectus was at his most developed
And finally, the collection pays homage to our spiritual home, Lamu, with pieces feauturing the same weave seen on furniture and architectural lattices all around the island.