Two weeks ago The Wall Street Journal wrote a captivating article about Lamu – Welcome to Lamu: Africa’s Most Captivating Artists Retreat, the piece described Lamu as an exotic African island and tells the story of an extraordinary artists retreat created by bon vivant Nicholas Logsdail – founder of Lisson Gallery and Nephew of Roald Dahl.

Lamu Island is a stunning small droplet that lies off the coast of Kenya; it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Apart from the stunning homage to Swahili architecture and beautiful beaches, Lamu Island is also home to some amazing artistic talent.

When Max Osterweis, founder and CEO of Suno, the New York based womenswear mentioned Aman Lamu as an incredibly chic boutique in the Telegraphs Little Black Book earlier this year, I instantly started following the cool owner and designer Sandy Bornman on Instagram, her designs and images of Lamu Island will surely captivate you.


Sandy was born and raised in South Africa, in the late eighties she moved Luangwa Valley in Zambia where she implemented a workshop for women teaching and producing hand stitched embroidery. Within no time these enthusiastic women produced spectacular hand embroidered bed covers and cushions of their own designs depicting village scenes and wildlife.

It was sixteen years ago when Bornman visited Lamu with her two small daughters for a holiday; it was then that they decided to make Lamu their home.


When I asked Sandy what inspired her to become a designer and open a chic boutique in the island, she told me “Living on the island one can’t help but be inspired by the simple lines of the Swahili architecture, the patterns on the carved wooden doors, the intricate designs of the vidaka plasterwork and the patterns and colours on various shells and sea creatures. I noticed a need for a quirky boutique on the island for those who have a more bohemian taste but still chic and classic.”


Aman is located in the heart of Shella village where Sandy showcases her beautiful designs of Kaftans, dresses and trousers that blend into the rhythm of the island. Apart from designing, she also works with very capable artisans in Kibera making bone and brass jewelry. “Living in Africa one constantly meets inspiring and talented craftsmen,” says Sandy.


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As part of her passion for arts and design, Sandy loves collecting extraordinary unusual textiles from India and Africa and transforming a silk sari into a kaftan or kimono, vintage hand stitched textiles into trousers and adding embellishments. Bornman also produces hand block printed silk and cotton fabric for garments.

In lieu with visiting her boutique, you can also follow Sandy’s work and life in Lamu on Instagram: @sandylamu.