Tuareg Rings

Though I split my time between the United States and Niger, my attachment to the latter is quite visceral. I have never been able to consider any other place my home, no matter how long I have been away. When I am not in Niger, I find that I have a need to physically surround myself with objects that hold its essence in some way. In my studio, these objects range from textiles, to furniture and accesories.

I wear mostly Tuareg jewelry. The Tuaregs are an ethic group from the Sahara desert in Niger. They are traditionally nomadic and have developed amazing craft skills over the years. They tell stories through their art. Their way of life has been a part of me since childhood, growing up in a small desert town.

My favorite Tuareg jewelry is definitely the rings. They are crafted by hand, each carrying messages through symbols that allude to the position of dunes, stars or even water. I wear several of them at a time, and because I work with my hands to sketch, make models, type or eat, my eyes are always on them. In that way, the objects serve as a constant reminder and precious comfort away from home.

Mariam Kamara

Mariam Kamara is a Nigerien architect.
Prior to architecture, she was a software developer for several years after obtaining a Masters and Bachelors degrees in Computer Science, respectively from New York University and Purdue University. She studied architecture at the University of Washington.

In 2013, Kamara became a founding member of united4design, a global collective of architects working on projects in the U.S., Afghanistan and Niger. They have collaborated to produce projects like Niamey2000 in Niger, which was awarded an American institute of Architects Seattle Award and Architect Magazine’s 2017 R+D Award for innovation.

In 2014, Kamara founded atelier masōmī, an architecture and research firm through which she tackles a wide variety of public, cultural, residential, commercial and urban design projects. A notable example is the Religious-Secular Complex of Dandaji in Niger, a collaborative cultural project that has won the 2017 Gold LafargeHolcim Award for Africa and Middle East, and the 2018 Silver Global LafargeHolcim Award for Sustainable Architecture. She is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at Brown University and a recurring Architecture Critic at the Rhode Island School of Design (R.I.S.D.)

Kamara’s work is guided by the belief that architects have an important role to play in thinking spaces that have the power to elevate, dignify, and provide a better quality of life. Through her practice, she aims to discover innovative ways of doing so, while maintaining an intimate dialog between architecture, people, and context. Since 2018, Kamara has been Sir David Adjaye’s protégé under the Rolex Mentor Protégé program, and is a 2019 Laureate of the Price Claus Award, which recognizes creatives having a positive impact on their societies.