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Kisawa Sanctuary in Effect Magazine

Kisawa Sanctuary – an Effect Magazine design hotel to watch

In this edition of series of hotels for design lovers, we take a trip to Africa to visit Kisawa Sanctuary on Benguerra Island off the coast of Mozambique

As the second largest continent on the globe, Africa is ecologically diverse, nuanced, and alive with colour and culture. New to the region and boasting 300 hectares of beachfront calm and coastal forest on Benguerra Island in Mozambique, Kisawa Sanctuary marries culture, design and environmental conservation with stunning results.

Recently opened at the tail end of 2021 and home to 17 bungalows spread across 11 residences, the resort’s creative design was spearheaded by NFJ, a studio run by entrepreneur and philanthropist Nina Flohr. NFJ was established in response to the exceptional design demands met when building the sanctuary and, believing in inclusive design, Flohr took extra care to protect the surrounding nature by blending in, rather than interrupting the local landscape. As such, she was able to ensure that the sanctuary’s interiors became a crucial part of Kisawa’s DNA.

Kisawa Sanctuary in Mozambique, featured in Effect Magazine
Kisawa Sanctuary is on Benguerra Island in Mozambique

Kisawa Sanctuary is a labour of love, with Flohr enlisting the help of artisans from Benguerra and its neighbouring islands – who made up 80% of the workforce – to utilise techniques such as thatching, carpentry and weaving throughout its design. The latter, a traditional artform on the island, was used to create a contrasting selection of textured, undulating, biophilic shapes to imagine the thatched roofs of the residences, where as local weavers also entwined grasses into sliding door panels and baskets, and artisans carved chairs and tables from local jambir and sambiri woods.

As soon as guests step inside Kisawa, they are greeted with unique art and antiques sourced from across Africa, including locally-made bespoke furniture that provides a thoughtful and authentic sense of place and a connection with the natural environment. No two residences are the same, each containing different elements of furniture, antiques, objects, ceramics and an individual colour scheme. Works are complemented by select pieces commissioned from young artists, both African and international.


Flohr was keen to source clay water pots made by the Nupe tribe in Nigeria and chairs hand-carved by the Makonde people in Tanzania. The wood is East African mahogany, carved out of a single piece – generally as a way to pay respect to an important member of the tribe. Other design elements of the property include rare finds from Senegal and Ghana, brass bedside lamps, marble tables, and ink portraits by British artist Frances Costelloe.

The Main Terrace at Kisawa Sanctuary, Mozambique

“Our approach to craftsmanship and commissions was designed to involve and create work for as many people from Benguerra and the neighbouring islands as possible,” Flohr tells Effect Magazine. “The skilled work of local weavers, thatchers, carpenters and textile makers is showcased throughout Kisawa with great pride, and we hope to inspire others to work this way too.”

Kisawa Sanctuary

Effect Magazine is brought to you by The Bruno Effect

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