A homeware collection designed by Sandra Githinji that aims to preserve historical memory and pay tribute to phenomenal African female figures. Bloom is conceptualised as a collection of sculptural vases that celebrate female figures whose stories have been long forgotten.
Sandra Githinji is a Kenyan-born, Melbourne-based designer and visiting lecturer at RMIT University. Her work spans areas such as interior architecture, product, furniture and exhibition design, with themes deeply rooted in African postcolonial critical theory and exploring curatorial activism in relation to diversity, equality and inclusion to activate meaningful discourse. Her design practice – Sandra Githinji Studio, which focuses on objects and space, explores how cultural and historical contexts construct spatial and temporal relationships between people and their surroundings.
As a designer, she focuses on designing the interiors of multi-family housing, considering the impact that buildings have on cities and their inhabitants. Combining historical research with careful listening to her clients’ experiences and memories, she weaves a depth of cross-cultural storytelling into each space and object, believing that objects are layered with stories; they are vessels that contain joy, sorrow, grief, and triumph. She strives to give people a shared awareness of the present that is both a continuum of the past and a platform for the future.
fascination with African history
BLOOM is a project born out of Sandra Githinji’s fascination with African history and her firm belief in the importance of preserving the African stories and the continuity of historical education. It physically symbolises the stories of these women who flourished where they were planted. Some of them had to endure difficult situations, but they grew and paved the way for many of us today and stand as a symbol of the power of women.
The collection contains Queen Nandi A1 & A3 prints, large tote bags available in 2 different colors and unique sculptural vases, which can hold water and fresh flowers. These vases are nand-made and hand-painted and because of that, each piece is unique and no two are exactly alike.
inspiring example for women
Queen Ndlovukazi Nandi kaBhebhe was the mother of King Shaka Zulu, the great king and warrior of the Zulu nation in 1816. She is considered one of the most important queens in South African history and is a role model for single mothers. Her life story is a inspiring example for all women who strive to make their voices heard in a society dominated by powerful men who seek to suppress their freedom.
Nandi – meaning ‘the sweet one’ – was born a princess of the Mhlongo clan. She was impregnated out of wedlock by Senzangakhone, king of the Zulu people, who at first denied paternity of the child. Nandi named her son Shaka and, in brave defiance, presented him to his father, who reluctantly married her and placed her in the inferior position of a third wife. She suffered great shame, humiliation and hostility from the other women for giving birth to an illegitimate son. Oppressed and excluded from her community, she lived as an impoverished nomad suffering from the famine. Later, with the support of King Diniswago, her son Shaka returned to his homeland, took his birthright, and ascended the throne as Zulu king.
strong will and resilience
Nandi’s strong will and resilience were rewarded, as her son now ruled over the very people who had previously bullied and shunned them. King Shaka believed that women deserved great respect and empowered her by making her his queen and assigning her the role of advisor, who ruled the Zulu kingdom when he was away on campaigns and advised him on nonviolent government strategies. Nandi’s personal journey from a young, dispossessed single mother to a powerful and influential queen is a powerful metaphor for the values of courage and determination in the face of adversity. Gender equality is a goal that is still a long way off for many women in the world, but the motivation to overcome sexism and bigotry must remain, and we can look to archetypes of moral strength like Nandi for guidance.