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Cozy container filled with fashion, art, and books in Nairobi

There's a brand new cosmopolitan cultural centre cropping up in Nairobi just down the road from the United Nations and the World Food Program.

 
Having the rather inconsequential name, the Gigiri Craft Centre, the space is still partially under construction. But it is already set to become an international ‘foodie' heaven as there will be eateries there preparing gastronomic dishes from all over the world, including Lebanon, Japan, Thailand, Italy, the Caribbean and the UK as a start.
 
There will also be a garden centre, a gym, oh yes, a craft centre, and of course, a coffee house. 
 
But one place that is bound to be a heart and soul of the new Centre is the library which curiously combines fashion and art with books, most of which are paperbacks and more than half of which are published in the past two years.!
 
The Book Worm Gigiri combines with Potpourri fashions for the simple reason that the former book publisher Shruti Bahety is best friends with Kenyan artist Drishti Chawla who's a fashionista as well as a wildlife painter.
 
Both having an entrepreneurial edge on their ‘first loves', the one loving books, the other loving art, their mutual desire was to grow their favorite things by setting up ‘shop' together at the Gigiri Craft Centre.
 
What's a marvel about their shop is that it is essentially a double-decker set of mabati containers which Shruti and her spouse Akith redesigned and transformed into a cozy nook with everything from wood panel floors and ceiling to insulated walls (to keep you cool even when it's blazing hot outside). 
 
They also made a remarkably efficient and economical use of space. The front vestibule serves as a miniature gallery where you can not only see Drishti's oil paintings but also guest artists on a monthly basis.
 
This month, for instance, it's the portraiture of Philip Ondik that is prominently placed and available for sale with no commission drawn by the two ladies.
 
"We want to give other artists an opportunity to exhibit because we understand how hard they have been hit by the pandemic," says Drishti who notes that upstairs in the second container, a proper gallery will also display her and other artists' works.
 
"We also look forward to its becoming a kind of workshop or conference room space where we plan to hold regular events," says Shruti who adds that the first event was a Japanese Flower Arranging Session on March 14th from 2pm to 4pm.
 
 
"We hope to have workshops on everything from creative writing and art to self- empowerment and even inviting guest artists to talk about the ways they work," Drishti says.
 
Their next event will be a Book Swap on April 26th, says Shruti, who hopes to have ‘swaps' on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.
 
So far, the library has around 1200 books, many of which reflect Shruti's liberal interests in Black Lives Matter issues and also feminist concerns.
 
"We have many books from the US and UK that address contemporary issues," she says as she picks up a stack of novels by award-winning Black writers.
 
"I guess the best way to describe the books I want to have in the library are those that challenge the normative view of things."
 
Meanwhile, Drishti is best known locally for her refined portraits of Kenyan wildlife. She is less known for her interest in fashion.
 
But her Potpourri style can be easily traced back to her roots in India where she still collaborates with her Mumbai-based aunt who shares her love of ladies' wear which is ‘elegant and effortless,' like the free-flowing ankle-length casual dress with capped sleeves that gracefully draped down to her elbows.
 
It is the style of dress that could pass for casual during the day, but as easily could serve as an elegant evening gown simply by adding an accessory or two and heels.
 
The fusion of all of these elements is apparently ‘effortless' but actually carefully planned.
 
As one walks straight beyond the vestibule, one finds book shelves on side and finely-woven cotton Potpourri dresses on the other. Keep going and the scene shifts to elegant silk and cotton saris which are either hand-embroidered, hand-woven, or hand-dyed.
 
Then, as you keep going, you'll find non-stop books for both children and adults in all genres of fiction.
 
Then at the corridor's end, there's a glass window and floor before which stand two of Drishti's most iconic images, a wizened elephant and a doe-eyed deer.
 
Source: https://www.businessdailyafrica.com/bd/lifestyle/art/cozy-container-filled-with-fashion-art-and-books-3332252

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