UoN student crowned winner at global shoe design competition

Cyprian Kavita Kiswili, a University of Nairobi student has been crowned winner in the 2019 Bata Young Designers Challenge.

Cyprian, a design graduate from the School of The Arts and Design in the College of Architecture and Engineering, was among the finalists competing at this year’s Bata Fashion Weekend at the Prague, Czech Republic.


UoN’s Anita Wambui Wairimu, a third year interior design student, was also a finalist at the highly competitive challenge.

Five UoN students from the School of The Arts and Design participated in the 2019 Bata Young Designers Challenge in Kenya. ‘Walk the Savanna’ is the theme the students worked with on their designs. The challenge was part of Bata’s 125 years celebrations. The Corporate Affairs team met the students and this is what they shared with us.


Cyprian Kavita Kiswili, graduate, Design and the winner


Asked to describe his experience at the challenge, Cyprian summed it up in two words: ‘exciting and interesting.’

“My main challenge was that I had never designed footwear before,” he said. “I took up the challenge and I am glad I did it.”

For a fresh graduate, having his shoe design being sold in selected Bata stores globally is quite an achievement.

Cyprian designed an open sneaker that was inspired by the savanna in Konza town. He called his shoe ‘Blossom’ describing the coming to life of the savanna.  The yellow and black unisex sneaker has different textures and interesting graphics inspired by his love for illustrations.



Anita Wambui Wairimu, 3rd year interior design student

The Bata Young Designers Challenge is an opportunity that Anita could not let slip by. The whole experience was her biggest take-away from the competition.

“Even though I did not know much about footwear and for that matter design of footwear, I took it up,” she shared. “I am proud to have been part of it. It was a learning experience. The challenge made me appreciate the shoe industry and the processes that goes into getting a shoe on the shelf.”

Fascinated by the footwear industry, Anita explained more on the process.

“There is a story behind every shoe,” she said. “There are different techniques of designing each shoe. There are many people in the factory involved in the design of one shoe.”

When Anita was a little girl, she owned a pair of sandaks. This detail inspired the design of her shoe at the competition which she incorporated with her culture, the Swahili culture. The open sneaker which she called ‘Sandava’ sought to solve the problem of sweaty feet. Just like the sayings at the boundaries of the common lessos adorned by the Swahili, the sneaker bore the saying ‘Bata Tunayo.’


Roy Waweru Wanjohi, graduate, Interior Design

Before the challenge was announced, Roy had engaged his lecturers on how best to pursue his interests in footwear. A timely move because two months later, the Director, STAD, informed Roy of the Bata Young Designers Challenge; an opportunity that he had to pursue.

“This was a new experience for me,” he started. “For the first time in my life, I was exposed to the line of footwear production. The competition gave me a better understanding of the entire process, from designing, prototyping to production.”

Roy’s shoe was inspired by traditional African haircuts and hairstyles. The hues from the sunset and sunrise were captured in the colours of the shoes. He named the unisex shoe for the urban youth ‘Hotsteppers.’

Roy would like to pursue footwear design further.




Brenda Kathure Kinyua, graduate, Interior Design

‘Robi’ from Nairobi is the name of Brenda’s shoe.

“From the theme ‘Walk the Savanna,’ I went for a design that juxtaposes Nairobi with the buildings, Nairobi the savanna which I call the urban savanna because of the National Park in the city and the outskirts of Nairobi that are open expansions of land. It is interesting that as a resident, you get to experience all these.”


With this in mind, Brenda’s unisex, smart casual sneaker, incorporated green and yellow as ‘nature’ colours and geometric shapes representing the buildings and different textures. “The competition was both scary and exciting.”




Wanjiku Angela Murigi, graduate, Fashion and Textile Design

If there is one thing Wanjiku enjoyed, it must have been working in Bata.

“It was interesting to see how the shoes we wear every day are made,” she started. “Footwear design is interesting. Understanding the different parts of a shoe was eye opening. Interestingly, I did not know about the competition until one of my lecturers nominated me.”

Wanjiku’s slip-on shoe which she called ‘1-2-5’ in honour of Bata’s 125 years, was inspired by her culture.

“I took certain elements of the Agikuyu culture. It was suede, in a tie and dye in a shade of orange and brown borrowed from the Agikuyu traditional attire. I even borrowed from the traditional earrings adorned by the Agikuyu women onto the shoe,” she explains. “It is a shoe created by Wanjiku for Wanjiku inspired by Wanjiku.”


The University is proud of these students and congratulates them on their achievements. The University also takes the opportunity to thank Bata Shoe Company for the strong partnership that continues to nurture student talent and provide them with global exposure in innovation.


Expiry Date: 
Thu, 2019-11-28 (All day)