How would you describe your design ethos?
I believe that design is very subjective and can never be a one-size-fits-all affair. I very strongly believe that just like peo- ple, spaces should have character and personality.
My aim when designing a space is to bring it to life and let it tell a story. I usually ask myself, if this space were a person what would they look, sound, feel and smell like? What would they say to you when you first meet them and what would you discover when you’ve spent some time together?
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My sources of inspiration vary widely. Cliché as it might sound, inspiration comes from all around, inside, behind and sometimes right in front of me. Just recently I had a Salvador Dali-type situa- tion where I literally jumped out of bed at 4am, grabbed a pencil and pad i keep on my night stand and sketched out a room I had seen in my dream.
I got a couple of odd looks in the studio later that day as I explained this wacky concept to my team, especially when I told them that I saw it while swimming in the belly of a whale.
But sometimes it’s not about being inspired by things I’ve seen or places I’ve been. Sometimes it is about what inspires my client and their brand; what they believe in, stand for and aspire to.
What has been your most memorable project to date?
Ironically, my most memorable project is one that never got built. A beautiful family home with a view of the Atlan- tic. I remember working on that project tirelessly for weeks. It was particularly exciting as they were my first Nigerian clients and I was keen to prove to them, and myself, that they’d made the right decision by choosing to work with this young, enthusiastic designer.
Sadly there were funding issues and the property was never developed. I still have all the presentation boards stored somewhere and had one of my sketches framed and hung up on a wall in my office. It’s a nostalgic reminder of how far I’ve come and why I am here in the first place.
How has the interior design industry evolved in Nigeria since you started out?
The transformation in the Nigerian interi- or design industry has been tremendous. I remember when it felt like such a lonely road. Not only were there less than a handful of professional interior design- ers, there were even fewer clients who actually understood our role or value to a project. It still isn’t a crowded street par- ty but certainly there has been increased appreciation for the profession. This is evident even from the number of young people who are choosing design as a first option and parents who are actually willing to pay for design school tuition! It is no longer just something you do after you’ve got a ‘real’ degree or a nice distraction for pampered house wives. No doubt, the industry is still very young and still evolving.
I still get called an interior decorator a lot and just the other day an MEP consultant asked if I would be able to read his drawings if he emailed me the CAD files. That was quite amusing.
What is the future of design in Nigeria, and Africa?
The prospects for the future of our design industry are so exciting, the thought literally gives me goose bumps! Africans and Nigerians have been designers of their spaces for centuries but not in the way we understand design in the world today.
We’ve got quite a bit of catching up to do but that is why it is so exciting. With the world fast becoming quite literally a Global village, we have access to so much more technology and a wider array of materials. We can reach out and be inspired and stimulated by great ideas and experiences from all over the world like never before.
What I do hope though, is that while we race to develop at 21st Century speed, we are able to build strong foundations, and do not give up innovation and creation for a ‘copy-and-paste’ culture. That we are able to develop home grown icons and Masters of design.