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What’s in a Pen?

The two indomitable women spearheading Angama's creative development can teach us all a lesson or two on very intentional buying
Above: The humble BIC pens sit ready for guests to sign the guestbook

I have had the great pleasure of occupying the desk opposite Alison Mitchell's for the past two years. And I can assure you that it was no easy spot to be working in. I would get frequent flashes of bright gold or vibrant reds from behind my computer as anything from copper bowls to velvety smooth blankets were pulled out of boxes here and there. In most cases, I couldn’t keep my nose out of it and happily gave my opinion to Ali, who very kindly indulged me.

Alison has an incredible talent to create an organised mess
A challenge for anyone to keep their concentration

Then, as if flashing all these beautiful objects in front of me wasn’t enough, Annemarie Meintjes would visit. If you have stood in the vicinity of her, you will understand me when I say she can’t help but distract. She is a force of nature and when combined with Ali, the pull is too strong for my work to hold me in place at my desk (sorry, Ryan!). We would speak all things design — from the dreaded scatter cushion (yes, they’re still out) to the perfect colour for swimming pool towels.

A rendering of Angama Amboseli's guest area and a peek at its design elements

All this started in earnest last year as the dynamic duo went about ordering samples for the beautiful touches of Angama Amboseli. You wouldn’t believe the conversations I overheard (or invited myself into). If the devil is in the detail, then these two women are angels brandishing lightsabers of good taste, creativity and practicality. Don’t believe me? Please, read on.
One day, Ali and Annemarie were having a little argument about the smallest element. When I thought of the colossal task ahead of them, I asked if this tiny detail was really so important in the greater scheme of things. My first mistake. Two sets of upraised eyebrows turned on me and I very quickly remembered an important email that needed writing. After that, Ali told me about the BIC pens at Angama Mara and that’s when I realised that I had underestimated them. My second mistake…

Everything you'll need for a lovely morning sitting quietly in your tent

In the tents and guest areas of Angama Mara, you may have noticed the BIC pens, where economics had nothing to do with the choice. The design of Angama Mara — perched on the site on which the movie Out of Africa was filmed — was influenced by the era of Karen Blixen and Denys Finch Hatton. While Karen mainly stayed in Kenya, the design team chose to 'follow' Denys on his travels for inspiration to create the Angama look and feel.
They explored what was happening in the world and brought it home to Angama — the rocking chairs from Fermob that were launched in Paris’ public spaces in 1923, the photographic studio inspired by the photographic safaris that Denys championed — and the BIC ballpoint pen.

The modern architecture of the Angama Mara guest area is married with Swahili design

First invented in the 1930s, The BIC ballpoint pen story started in the early 1940s, taking the world by storm in the ‘50s and changing the game from clunky, leaky fountain pens to effortless ballpoint pens. 'Our ambition is to create a sense of ease and delight in the millions of moments that make up the human experience'. Sound familiar? We’re also keen on making our guests at ease and delighting them in the millions of moments that make up the safari experience. But I digress; in that era, the world was changing to more contemporary and practical designs and Angama captures that through its modern but classic architecture and the creative touches that bring the aesthetic to life.

I’m not going to give away any of the details of Angama Amboseli just yet, you’ll have to wait to hear it from the jedi masters themselves, but you can rest assured knowing that endless hours of careful thought and debate have been put into every nook and cranny of our new lodge.

Notes from the Editor:

This blog is bittersweet as my days in front of Ali’s delightfully messy desk are over. She and Steve, and their three children, moved to Kenya this week. The whole Angama family wishes them all the best in their move.

Filed under: Inside Angama

Tagged with:

Angama Design , Angama Team

About: Charlotte Ross Stewart

Charlotte may be the youngest member of the team, but she is a storyteller wise beyond her years. Tasked with sharing the stories that flow out of Angama on social media, blogs and beyond, her love of people, literature and nature make this the perfect role for her.

Browse all articles by Charlotte Ross Stewart Meet the angama team

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Join the Conversation (2 comments)

Comments (2):

Mike Parry

28 January 2023

I remember the Bic pens so well, and the photographs of the guest area and bar brought back so many wonderful memories. What a magical place! Please say 'hi' to Doris from Mike & Lynne. Her sparkle richly added to the ambiance of the facility. We miss you all.

    Charlotte Ross Stewart

    3 February 2023

    Hello Mike and Lynne, thank you so much for your kind words. Doris is a dear friend of mine and I know she will be delighted to hear from you both. We hope to see you in the Mara again soon!

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