David Thuku wasn’t the only Kenyan artist creating sketches and a three-dimensional model for consideration by the Villa Rosa Kempinski Hotel which was getting set to celebrate its 120th anniversary since the founding father of the luxury hotels, Berthold Kempinski, opened the first family business back in Berlin, Germany in 1897.
But Thuku was the only artist to come up with a design that was both contemporary and conceptually intriguing as well as being colourful and compatible with the elegant front foyer and lobby of the Hotel.
On the one hand, Thuku’s chandelier-like collection of multi-coloured square frames might be mistaken for a playful children’s toy since nearly all the 120 frames are interconnected like a child’s game.
But at the same time, this intricate assortment of colour-coded geometric forms are carefully hung from the Hotel’s high ceiling so that they seem to be cascading down towards the classical marble fountain situated as the very centre of the foyer.
Thuku calls his hanging installation Cycles of Light which is a title and concept inspired by the hotel’s anniversary theme, namely Ignite the Night.
“It’s a theme shared among all 74 Kempinski hotels, all of which commissioned artwork from a local artist,” says Shikha Nayar, the Nairobi Kempinski’s e-commerce manager.
She adds that most of the 74 are located in major European cities although a number of newer hotels have come up in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
As for Africa, the Villa Rosa Kempinski, launched in 2014, is not the first established in the region.
“We have two in Kenya, one in Nairobi, the other in Maasai Mara,” says Shikha. “But we also have hotels in Cairo, Kinshasa, Djibouti and Accra.”
On April 8 at 6:30pm all 74 Kempinski hotels turned on lights meant symbolically to Ignite the Night and illuminate all the artworks created especially for the 120th anniversary celebration.
“At the same time, the [Nairobi] hotel switched on the fountain beneath the ‘cycles of light’ which had a dazzling effect,” recalls Thuku who had carefully hung four six-sided mirror cubes at the base of his ‘chandelier.’
“The effect of the flowing fountain water combined with the four ceiling lights that were simultaneously switched on was something special to see,” adds the artist who says he had help on various details from friends his home studio at Brush tu Art.