Media & Press Releases

Teta Isibo Adds Local Rwandan Flair to Bisate Lodge Design

Mar 23, 2017 | Wilderness Safaris

March 2017 – Rwandan fashion entrepreneur and founder of Inzuki Designs, Teta Isibo, has been appointed by Wilderness Safaris to source locally-produced items in order to bring a vibrant Rwandan flair to the interior design of Bisate Lodge, due to open on 1 June 2017. Teta, who has just been named by Forbes as one of Africa’s 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs for 2017, will also be sourcing unique items for guests to purchase at Bisate.

Inzuki Designs is a Rwandan brand specialising in jewellery, home décor and accessories that is, according to Teta, part of a wider Rwandan cultural renaissance. “As a designer who focuses on fusing traditional Rwandan craftsmanship with contemporary design, the Bisate project is super exciting for me as I feel its design embodies this same principle”, she said.

“We are thrilled to have Teta as part of our design team for this pioneering project, which will not only offer guests something completely unique to the Rwandan landscape but a lodge that is steeped in local design, culture and traditional architecture", said Grant Woodrow, Wilderness Safaris COO.

Teta is the liaison who will be sourcing locally-made products for Bisate’s interior décor and other operational items such as uniforms. “I am working closely with Caline Williams-Wynn and Nilfah Adams from Artichoke (the lead interior designers on this project), to bring their vision for the lodge to life and to add to it from a Rwandan design perspective. I’d love to achieve a strong local flavour, one that is envisioned by the whole team, and to make the lodge look and feel authentically Rwandan”, she added.

Bisate’s interior design is drawn from a variety of aspects of the Rwandan lifestyle, particularly the colourful textiles and use of texture. “The emerald green colour in the textiles and chandeliers is reminiscent of the verdant greens of the rainforests, as well as the vibrant markets that dot the villages throughout the country”, said Caline Williams-Wynn. “Following through with our commitment to the principle of recycling, the chandeliers will be of recycled glass, and the “ibyansi” milk jug motif reused across a number of elements”.

Many of the furnishings will be decorated using “imigongo,” an art form unique to Rwanda that uses cow dung and goes back hundreds of years; the dung is mixed with soils of different colours and then painted in geometric shapes. The use of black and white cow hides will also reflect the rural way of life in the villages, and volcanic stone will be used in the fireplaces to echo the volcanoes of the adjacent Volcanoes National Park.

As a Wilderness Safaris Premier camp, the overall design concept for Bisate Lodge is based on the principle that ‘Purpose’ is the new luxury. “Our aim is to create a world-class venture that will make a dramatic and far-reaching positive impact on more than ‘just’ the mountain gorilla. While minimising our environmental impact during the construction and running of Bisate, we have also begun an ambitious reforestation project, which will provide a haven for a wide array of life endemic to the Albertine Rift – from mammals to butterflies. We are well on track for our opening on 1 June and are looking forward to welcoming guests to this incredible part of Africa”, Woodrow concluded.

Other architectural and design facts for Bisate Lodge:

  • Architect: Garreth Kriel from Nicholas Plewman and Associates: “We provide design and project implementation that is uncompromisingly innovative and ecologically sustainable in any environment from inner city to the remotest wilderness. We are excited about Bisate because firstly it’s an opportunity to work in Rwanda, a remarkable country, and secondly, arising from that it is an opportunity to tease out a contemporary architectural response to rather inchoate stimuli of a primordial volcanic landscape, the great primates that dwell there and an all but lost human heritage.”
  • Interior Designer: Caline Williams-Wynn, and Nilfah Adams from Artichoke
  • Rwandan-based Designer: Teta Isibo, Inzuki Designs:
  • Bisate renderings:
  • ‘All you need to know’ about Bisate’s commitment to Culture and Community, Conservation and Commerce
  • Building the lodge one brick at time: (materials are brought by truck to a central point and then by hand up the slope – rock by rock, brick by brick, bag by bag …)
  • What materials were used? Concrete, steel, timber, synthetic thatch, volcanic rock, bamboo, reed, papyrus …
  • Nearest city: Kigali, around 57 miles away
  • Total square feet of buildings: FoH - 16,146 square feet and BoH - 10,764 square feet
  • Construction time: 10 months … to launch in June 2017
  • How many villas? Just six luxurious forest villas
  • How big are the villas? Each spacious 91m2 forest villa will comprise a generous yet intimate combination of bedroom, reception space and bathroom, all warmed by a central fireplace and with breathtaking views out across a private deck towards Mount Bisoke.
  • Why is it different? There is nothing else remotely like this in the broader area, or for that matter in Rwanda. We took the well-known and very distinctive King’s Palace at Nyanza as our point of departure and gave this a modern sensibility in terms of interiors and furnishings. It is a mix of which we are very proud and which we believe resonates with the practice in modern Rwanda of taking time-worn customs and giving them contemporary relevance.
  • What’s the design process like? In a word…collaborative. Obviously there was a principal architect – in this case Garreth Kriel from Nicholas Plewman and Associates – who pulled the project together, with Designers Caline Williams-Wynn and Nilfah Adams from Artichoke, but over many months there was meaningful input from a whole suite of people ranging from additional architects and interior designers, to the National Ethnographic Museum, local textile experts, the full gamut of Wilderness Safaris and our local Rwandan partners.
  • What does Bisate mean? The Bisate site is a steep hillside – an eroded volcanic cone; bisate means ‘pieces’ in Kinyarwanda, describing how the cone was once whole but worn away by natural erosion.
  • Architectural inspiration: Bisate’s sophisticated architectural and interior design is rooted in Rwandan building tradition as exemplified in the design of the Royal Palace of the traditional monarch. The spherical, thatched structures echo the thousands of hills that dot the Rwandan landscape. The architecture is also inspired by Bisate’s amphitheatre setting, with the forms and outlines of the lodge thus accentuating the spectacular natural surroundings. In this way, capturing the essence of the Virunga volcanoes that can be seen in the distance. This volcanic mountainous terrain also resonates in the volcanic stone that is used in Bisate’s fireplaces and its surrounds, while natural ‘flamed’ granite is used for many surfaces.