Integration of Traditional Pottery into Contemporary Design in Kenya

A Case Study of Kisumu Pottery

  • Jane Otieno
Keywords: Contemporary design, Economic empowerment, Integration, Traditional pottery


The study aims to shed light on integration of traditional pottery into contemporary design in Kenya. Local potters are faced with numerous challenges due to importation of aluminum and plastic containers that are of high quality, functional and possess aesthetic appeal. Some of the challenges are due to the monotonous approach to production and finishing of indigenous products - conditions that also marred the philosophical impact they are supposed to convey. The study sought to enhance pottery’s aesthetic qualities by incorporating contemporary designs in order to increase its use and demand. The descriptive approach of the qualitative research methodology was employed. Interviews, observation and photography were employed as the data collection methods. Data was collected from five potters in Kisumu, Kenya, to ascertain how traditional pottery can be integrated into contemporary designs. The data were then thematically analyzed and the indications were that the potters integrate indigenous and contemporary design to make pottery for different purposes to a minimal extent. The results of the study indicated that new designs, materials and tools can add value and enhance the texture and aesthetic qualities of the products produced. As such, other non-conventional materials, tools and designs could be robustly explored for such products to inspire and educate producers to increase creativity. The study concludes that indigenous pots can be redesigned to enhance the value of the indigenous pottery industry, and this will result in economic empowerment for sustainable development and self-reliance for the potters. The study recommends that indigenous pots need to be redesigned with contemporary designs, such that the negative perception that they are archaic be mitigated.