Designer Ini Archibong on merging myth and reality to create The Secret Garden

The ECAL graduate spoke about overcoming a difficult time, his design process and the importance of fulfilling a higher purpose.

Designer Ini Archibong, who started his talk by thanking the other Design Indaba 2018 speakers for supporting him as well as for being an inspiration, started his talk on a sombre note. 

"There was a point, not too long ago, where I didn't want to be alive. I remember sitting in my car on the side of the road and I just started writing. I started writing about the darkness. I didn't stop until I had written my way out of it, esssentially. During that time I came to the realisation that my darkness came from living a life that wasn't in line with a higher purpose."

Dressed in black, with his white shirt and pink socks providing a dose of colour, Archibong commanded the audience's attention with his voice, as he paced up and down the stage.

He described how he has developed a personal mythology as an amalgamation of all the stories and influences that he grew up with, whether religious or spiritual.

His product range, The Secret Garden, is a distillation of all his influences. 

"It started with a metaphor, the garden in fantasy literature and spirituality represents a place of the unknown, where anything can happen and the normal rules of this reality don't apply. For me, my secret garden is a layer that exists above reality where I can escape to and find the inspiration to create the things that I feel could somehow represent .. objects that are a representation of this mythology."

He did not follow the typical design process, instead he started writing about what the secret garden would look like before going ahead and creating the products that would fill it. 

"Fragments of awakened life magnified and enlivened with the richness, the substance of dreams. Crystal flowers frozen in bloom, dripping stalactites from the frosty marble sky. In the garden we find flat headed fungi top, liquid line legs, precarious substance held by tention of surface alone... The unfamiliar guide us through a journey unknown and we're awakened as the heroes we once knew we were," he says as he talks through the series of lights, tables that form part of the range.

Archibong says the project was important for him to find his sense of purpose as well as belief in himself and his creativity.

"After doing this project it opened up something new inside me as a designer. For the first time I tried to make tangible a lot of the things that have been floating around inside of me, a lot of the very spiritual background of what I do as a creator."

Design Indaba 2018 Conference Talks are presented in partnership with Liberty.  

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