When your designs have been featured in the likes of Architectural Digest, Azure, Dezeen and Elle Decor, not to mention on Netflix and in Wallpaper, Dwell and Vogue, you have every reason to preen. But Lagos-based furniture designer Lani Adeoye – a Fortune 500 management consultant with qualifications in strategy, marketing, IT and applied science – is refreshingly down-to-earth.
The founder of Studio Lani recently showed her ten-piece EKAABO collection at the Salone Satellite in Milan, and she merges age-old tradition with new technologies to arrive at something unique.
“EKAABO means ‘welcome’ in Nigeria’s Yoruba language, echoing West African hospitality at its finest,” she says. The engaging collection’s biomorphic forms evoke an organic rhythm, while its use of materials from the earth offer a sense of warmth together with contemporary interpretations of heritage materials, like Adire, Aso-oke, and Benin bronze.
The collection was inspired by the Nigerian city of Abeokuta (which means “under the rock”), the undulating topography of which merges organically with the surrounding architecture. It celebrates black heritage and elegance, welcomes new futures and imagined possibilities, and presents a pleasing mix of philosophies intended to celebrate traditional Nigerian craftsmanship in a modern-day context.
A comfortable piece of furniture can also be conceived as a “natural fortress”. This idea, too, emerges from the collection, as the Egba people who first established Abeokuta took a sense of comfort from their iconic Olumo Rock during times of unsettling tribal warfare.
A heightened sense of our globally connected world is evident in Adeoye’s work. She has studied and lived internationally and is sensitive to her immediate environment, curious about the world at large, and empathic when it comes to human needs. Yet she remains “gingered” (a Nigerian slang term for inspired, challenged or excited) by the dynamism of Lagos and its youthful energy, despite its social challenges.
Following her Milan exhibit, where she also won first prize for her Yoruba-inspired “RemX” walker for the aged, Adeoye’s focus now is on collaborating, innovating and giving a timeless appeal to decor items so they magically transcend country borders and current trends. This is a furniture designer who thanks a team whenever she posts of a success on Instagram – and nobody could argue with her much-used hashtag: #ittakesavillage.