Sitting in an Angama Mara design meeting was akin to a crazy rollercoaster ride. All three designers – architects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, and interior designer Annemarie Meintjes pushed every boundary imaginable.
The goal was to find a balance between creative madness, a fresh approach to lodge design and a distinctive look – all the while staying true to what guests expect when going on safari in Africa. In the middle of it all, was the inimitable Lesley Fox who simply just made it all happen.
Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens have spent the past 20 years developing a hand-crafted haute couture body of work in Africa. Where possible, their design philosophy has been to live onsite (in many instances in exotic locations such as North Island in the Seychelles), managing one project at a time by developing and creating a total design: a new language of architecture and lifestyle specific for that location.
Silvio and Lesley strive to continually utilise local craftsmanship and know-how in their award-winning designs, adhering to their studio’s philosophy of design based on nature. Angama Mara is their fifth collaborative project with Steve and Nicky Fitzgerald, following Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Grumeti River Camp and Maji Moto Tented Camp in Tanzania, and South Africa’s Makalali Bush Camp. For insight into their vision for Angama Mara watch this video.
Annemarie is Chanel-red lips and black Chinese suits. She is also the best storyteller alive, rooted both in South Africa and the soil of the many nations she has explored on her travels. AM was born to be in media, and spent her early days in TV training, followed by a stint in magazine fashion. She then joined fellow media creative force Karen Roos, and together they spear-headed a new magazine RED that made a deep impression on the South African fashion scene.
In her whirlwind of creativity, Annemarie has published a number of books on design, and her life is currently filled by the style bible, SA’s design wunderkind VISI magazine, for which she is the Deputy Editor. AM has known Steve & Nicky for over 20 years, but this is their first project together. Follow her or watch this video on her vision for Angama Mara.
If you are planning on building a lodge anywhere really complicated, best you call Les. There is simply nothing that is too much of a challenge for her: she has the ability to source anything, negotiate impossible terms and prices, design, create, fill spreadsheets faster than you can blink and perform handstands in the office all at once. Nothing short of miraculous.
Lesley previously worked with Steve and Nicky for 10 years at &Beyond: building lodges, training staff and designing many moments of guest delight. Most of the lovely touch points and the attention to detail to be found at Angama Mara are thanks to Les.
It took a master builder, an engineer and a tent magician less than twelve months to build Angama Mara. A remarkable feat if the lodge was in the suburbs of Nairobi, but nothing short of miraculous considering the lodge is in the middle of nowhere.
Angama Mara is proud to have partnered with Mark Glen of Northscape who built the lodge, David Lowe of Barker & Barton Kenya who managed the project, and Jan Allan of Canvas ByDesign who crafted the guest tents and acted as the onsite architect. All three are proud Kenyan Cowboys.
Founding partners Chris Gough Palmer and Marina Greaves are the creative geniuses behind Angama Mara’s visual identity and design agency, The New Black. Chris is a typeface designer and developer in a league of his own; Marina summed up the Angama Mara brand so succinctly when she likened it to “a fine wine in a tin cup“. For insight into their vision for Angama Mara watch this video.