30 Shades of Purple

Take in Kenyan designer Ayango Mpinga's personal ode to her home country

30 shades of purpleDesign Indaba

In her work 30 Shades of Purple, Kenyan designer Anyango Mpinga  uses the color purple to  explore different aspects of Kenyan culture.

30 shades of purpleDesign Indaba

Listen to the chanting from a traditional Kenyan dance

Part of what inspired this work is a traditional Kenyan dance, in which the participants wear colorful attire and elaborate headdresses called a "Kondo Udo".

The Kondo Udo Dance, Kenya (2020) by Ayango MpingaDesign Indaba

Watch members of the Hombay County community in Kenya perform the Kondo Udo dance. Can you spot the purple sisal skirts?

30 shades of purpleDesign Indaba

In addition to Kondo Udo hats, the male dancers wear multicolored costumes while the female dancers wear vibrant Sisal skirts which have been dyed purple.

30 shades of purple by 3D rendering by Yifan PuDesign Indaba

As Anyango notes, Kenya's national bird, the Lilac Breasted Roller is also purple. She references this throughout her design by including illustrations of these birds, repeated in different guises. 

30 shades of purpleDesign Indaba

In addition to its national bird, the Kenyan national flower is also purple and illustrations of the Tropical Orchid occur repeatedly within the print.

In referencing the traditional dances from her mother's home town, Mpinga not only uses the color purple to explore Kenyan culture, but also uses it to access her personal relationship to the dance and by extension, the color purple.

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