We love London-based and Nigerian-bred designer Yinka Ilori’s upcycled furniture designs inspired by Nigerian fables and African fabrics – and now he’s collaborated with our very own Laduma Ngxokolo on an exclusive new collection for the Africa Calling project at Africa Utopia 2014 in London. DECO speaks to Yinka about his designs.

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5.Milan Design Week. The Art of Storytelling

What is the inspiration and idea behind repurposing items? My inspiration behind my pieces is telling a story through furniture using traditional Nigerian parables I grew up with as a child.

Where do you get the material from? The materials I use on my work are from Nigeria and are mostly given to me by my mother because she has so many beautiful fabrics and does not seem to use all of them. She has always said that my sister will get all her fabrics – which my siblings and I agreed to, but now we want some too!

What excites you about design? The way it interacts and communicates with people. Design is a powerful tool and I love using chairs as a way of telling stories and getting my point across without even having to open my mouth. The work can speak for its itself – all I need is a parable and a chair; that’s my voice.

What’s your favourite space in your home? My living room – it’s where I can unwind and relax after a very long day in the studio.

How did your collaboration with Laduma Ngxokolo for the Africa Utopia exhibition come about? The collaboration came about when Kathy Shenoy, curator of Africa Calling, mentioned that she would like me and Laduma to collaborate because our work fits together very well. She had that vision. We had a Skype talk and we all got on so well, we had a good laugh and then we took it from there! We created something really amazing – we didn’t have a lot of time but what was important was that we both understood each other’s work and we both shared a love for our heritage and for telling stories. What was nice was that we both respected each other’s work, which made the collaboration a wonderful experience. People went crazy when they saw the chair so who knows what might happen – depending on our schedules, we could do some more work together. The chair is called ‘Ogun’, which means ‘heritage’ in Yoruba.

What inspires you about Laduma and South African design in general? What inspires me about Laduma is how he used his heritage to design his knitwear. His work ethic is also phenomenal. What inspires me about South African design are the colours. I really love colour and it pushes me to want to play around with different colours on future projects. The way Laduma uses colours and patterns is beautiful!

What are you currently working on? I am preparing for my third solo exhibition, taking place in Lagos, Nigeria. I will be showing my new collection at A Whitespace Gallery in Ikoyi. The exhibition has been supported by The Arts Council England and the British Council, and is called ‘This Is Where It started’

Yinkacollage

www.yinkailori.com | Twitter: @yinksdesigns
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