London-based designer Yinka Ilori embarked on his career in 2011 and it was his upcycled furniture that captured the imagination of design-lovers. Drawing on the Nigerian parables and West African fabrics he grew up surrounded by, his pieces were storytelling devices.
His chairs - symbolic items that to Ilori hold so much power to communicate - were custom-created out of discarded seats. The designer would source abandoned chairs from different parts of the globe and upcycle them, using bold colours and vibrant textiles that relay a deeper story.
“Chairs are powerful objects. Chairs hold a lot of feeling and emotions. I think it’s quite a soulful thing,” he said in a previous interview with Design Indaba.
An advocate for narrative-rich design, Ilori uses his British and Nigerian heritage to tell new stories through a contemporary aesthetic. He has recently expanded his range to include a 20-piece collection of homeware. Bright, colourful and created with a range of different craftsmen and suppliers, it comprises rugs, cushions, stoneware, even tea towels and trays, coasters and placemats.
The collection is unexpected for a designer whose resume to date has included large-scale installations. However, this range aims to celebrate exactly these small functional items that are often overlooked. By making conversation pieces out of things that are often not given much thought, we see them anew as objects worthy of our appreciation.
Many of the pieces have nostalgic significance for him personally – and hint at deeper meaning. In his family, tea towels were used by all members of the household for different purposes, while a tablecloth signalled a special occasion.
The range was created entirely in-house as Ilori felt it was important for his studio to understand the process from conception to production and finally, retail. The new homeware range draws on many of the concepts and design motifs that he’s become known for.
These signature designs, that reference his early work as well as directly translate many of his installation designs into a smaller scale, are now freshly interpreted across the homeware items. “The patterns I've used in this collection were based on the idea of a cultural exchange – a merging of African and English cultures and customs,” he says. Enjoy his joyous celebration of culture, family and heritage, as seen in his presentation at the Design Indaba Conference.