A Lagos-based designer and founder of Tǽillò home and lifestyle brand, Jumoke Dada strives to showcase the beauty of Nigerian culture through her work.
Known for producing exquisitely crafted furniture using Aso Oke and Ankara fabrics, Jumoke Dada combines African design with contemporary aesthetics in a unique style that speaks true to her Nigerian heritage. ‘I believe there is a need to improve on traditional forms and materials and apply them in today’s context, creating a new cultural concept termed Modern African,’ she says. ‘Through this, Africans can maintain their identity despite the current conflict in culture, and be proud of who they are.’
Jumoke Dada began her career studying architecture at the University of Lagos and, after graduating with a first class and earning a Masters degree in Environmental Design, she went on to work in top architectural, interior design and furniture-manufacturing companies in Nigeria. ‘When I was studying, I had always wanted to incorporate Africanism into my own style of architecture, and this continued to grow in me until the idea of Tǽillò was formed,’ she says.
Realising that many arts and crafts have evolved over time to include practical and decorative items, lifestyle design felt like the perfect fit for Jumoke Dada, and a way for her to present her philosophy of merging the traditional with the contemporary. ‘Human expressions find their way through various forms of art, and in light of this, I resolved in my heart to transform the Nigerian culture and identity into a global brand,’ she says. ‘I’m so inspired by the Afro-renaissance era we are currently experiencing, which is evident around the world in design, fashion and Hollywood. We have the joy of seeing the sun of Africa rising again, and it reignites a feeling of wanting to do more for the culture and the continent.’
Which African designer should everyone have their eye on?
I love how Nigerian fashion designer Rukky Ladoja of Grey Projects works with bold prints and even bolder colours.
Who is the person that has most influenced your career?
I studied a lot of the great Nigerian artist Demas Nwoko’s work in and out of design school, and I hope to carry on his philosophy of creating and developing our own African technology that is unique to us, and applying it in design to create our own distinct African aesthetic.
Is there an item of clothing that changed your life?
Combat boots look good with everything – pants, skirts, leggings, tights, whatever! They also give me a bit of an edge and they are so comfortable. They are the perfect getaway shoe.
Which accessory does everyone need right now?
Colourful straw bags, especially those made in Bolgatanga, Ghana, because they provide a fashionable alternative to carrying a regular handbag. The amazing thing is that you can have them made in a range of fantastic styles, like belt bags, cross-body bags, classic totes, cute clutches and round basket bags.
Which decor trend are you loving right now?
Incorporating natural materials – like wood, earthy colours and stone – makes spaces feel more authentic and unique. I also like the use of handcrafted and recycled furniture and fixtures.
What’s an important part of your everyday style?
I kind of feel incomplete without my wrist watch. Apart from it being a timepiece, it also serves as an accessory.
Is there an interior piece that changed your life?
There is a painting of a woman by Nigerian artist Peju Alatise that showed me how strong I am as a growing woman and that I can be anything I want to be – that being black and a woman does not limit me in any way. It became an inspiration for me to start my brand. I think I will have to buy the painting from the current owner because it changed my life.
Who would most like to have lunch with?
I’d love to talk to renowned Senegalese painter and textile designer Aïssa Dione about how she was able to revive Senegal’s traditional craft of fabric weaving and build a ‘100% made in Senegal’ high-end fabric brand underpinned by centuries-old processes and skills.
What is your quote to live by?
It’s by Maya Angelou: ‘We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.’
Want to learn about the stylish lives of more African creatives? Read about fashion designer Thebe Magugu, interior designer Jacoline Sema and the founder of a womenswear and accessories label Lisa Folawiyo.