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Roberto and Fabiana, baobab creatives in Kenya

The eco-friendly designers lives and works in Kilifi

02-05-2021 by Freddie del Curatolo

There are so many resources that Africa's most iconographic plant can boast: from the use of the seeds as a vitamin resource especially for children, to the powder of the fruit used as sustenance and anti-starvation but also as an anti-inflammatory in traditional medicine.
Not to mention its cultural, traditional and spiritual value and its role as a symbol of aggregation and therefore of peace for communities, as well as a totem for tourism.
However, hardly anyone had ever thought of using the baobab's fruit to process it and turn it into wonderful design objects, in a totally sustainable context.
This has been done by an Italian-Argentinian design couple living in Kilifi.
Roberto Gerosa and his wife Fabiana Alcojor have created Seedling Designs, an artisan company that produces lamps, holders and other accessories using this marvellous centuries-old plant with "zero waste". 
Within the sisal plantations of Mnarani, their workshop is a jewel of beauty, inventiveness and encounter with local communities.
A local women's cooperative was involved in collecting the baobab fruits for processing and emptying them.
These extraordinary women have been with us since the beginning of our adventure," Fabiana tells Malindikenya.net. "They collect the fruit from the many baobabs at Kilifi Plantation, load them into large baskets and bring them to us, getting paid for their work. Some of them help us with the emptying and final painting of the lamps, vases and candle holders.
For the finishing and drilling work, we have decided instead to give help to students coming out of the local polytechnic who are still looking for work. Here, they can hone their knowledge of machinery and specialise in a trade that develops not only manual skills but also creativity and initiative".
Roberto, a Sicilian, and Fabiana, originally from Mendoza, decided to change their lives a few years ago, leaving their respective jobs and career prospects in leading London firms to move to Lake Victoria and pursue social projects for a non-profit organisation. Then, during a trip to the coast, they were enlightened to create something personal and unusual and to live in contact with nature and the local communities. And at the same time raise his first-born son Julian in an extraordinary dimension.
Designers should look to nature not only for inspiration, but also as a source of premium materials to recycle," explains Fabiana. "This is the only way to create designs that are sustainable in both technique and the message they convey.
Seedlings pays attention not only to its products (the Kilifi shop also offers jams, magic powder and essential oils) but also to promoting the culture of the baobab as a fundamental element to be safeguarded.
We have also created a nursery of small baobabs which, through agreements with Mijikenda communities, schools and associations, we plant in significant places," explains Roberto, "such as the kaya, the sacred places of the local animist religion.
Seedling is at the same time a breeding ground for social commitment, an injection of environmental sustainability and help for the local population, but at the forefront are Fabiana's creations, fantastic furnishing objects that in a short time have become a classic in many homes on the coast and have also taken hold in Nairobi, projecting the company into a dimension that could soon become international.
We have taken part in markets and fairs all over Kenya," explains Roberto, "but what makes us particularly proud is the media coverage we have on channels such as instagram. Our hope is to be able to grow while maintaining the same quality standards and offering work and income opportunities to other young people and local women".

TAGS: italiani kenyabaobab kenyasostenibilità kenyacreativi kenyadesign kenya

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