#CertifiedCOOL: theCool Meets YINKA ILORI


Yinka IloriAs part of our growth we wanted to be sure to meet people who are really doing something cool to shout about and so we are starting a #CERTIFIEDCOOL project which sees theCool have a sit down with creatives all over once a month to bring to light their movements and just why they qualify for being Certified Cool!

So a week or so ago, theCool got the pleasure of meeting the person and brand that is YINKA ILORI a North London based furniture and product designer over at his very industrious studio. The discussions that developed covered personal style, african proverbs, his latest projects which includes an exhibition coming our way and various other topics that made for quite an enjoyable start to our day!

Check out the interview below for what we got into…

TCF: How long has YINKA ILORI been running for?

I have been running for 2 years now, used to be called Yinksdesigns, but we did a whole rebrand and it is now my name Yinka Ilori.

Yinka Ilori

TCF: You use Upcycled materials for your furniture, why?

For me its about the story. with new furniture there isn’t much of a story behind it, they are just a piece of furniture. But with old pieces there is more of a meaning behind it. So, someone has put a chair on the side of a road, that already is a story where you found it, and then I put my addition to it and that adds an element to it as well. Then someone buys it again that’s a story, so it is a story that is ongoing, meaningful.

TCF: Your main focus is using african print, how do you incorporate that concept into your furniture?

Well Nigerian parables are known as ‘Owe’. So I like to put that into each of my pieces. When I was younger my parents used to tell such parables all the time and I never used to understand them and used to be like whatever. But now I used them in my life and what I do as well and I wanted to bring that into what I do.

Yinka Ilori Chair-Ewa

TCF: Why do you think people are drawn to your furniture?

It’s the story. Why do I put a lampshade on a chair leg? Why do I leave a chair leg unfinished? I do things that are beyond the furniture, making you think. The colours are in your face and bold and people can be scared of colour but I love it. I am colourful and bold.

TCF: Where do get your inspiration from?

I love scandinavian furniture, I love the shapes and how simple it is and try to incorporate that into my furniture. I read a lot of magazines and blogs to try and get information on trends, shapes and colours happening at the moment. Myself and Joe (design intern at the time) were looking through parables the other day and looking at how to break them down. If you sit down and break them down from their literal meaning they are really deep. and I try to put that into my work.

Yinka Ilori Chair-Kekere

TCF: Do you think the big rise and interest into Africa has really helped for instance exhibition over at the Tate and prints being back in fashion?

Years ago, people weren’t really proud of being African, you used to keep it quiet, but yes the rise in the culture and continent has indeed helped in gaining interest from people and being African and proud about it. The publicity has helped as people want to know more about the brand.

TCF: What is your design process from ideas to production?

Well we always got told to sketch before you design something, but I was always the reverse. I used to get a table or chair and redesign/sketch it in my head as we go along, developing it as I go. I feel like it is more natural, its more real. I don’t have to limit myself to a sketch, if I make a mistake it may be a good mistake. Once built it either gets sprayed and then upholstered finished up and possibly sold or for a client or at an exhibition.

Yinka Ilori Chair-Let there be Light-2

TCF: So your Exhibition coming up, what are the dates and what can look forward to?

12th September  2013- 24th November, part of  London Design Festival and Shoreditch Design Triangle where lots of events and pop ups will be happening over that period. The show is more about my brand and getting my designs out there, in a good location and there will be a bit of an installation and various other things in the works.

TCF: We read that you really love Carhartt, give me a few words that would describe your style?

That is tricky. Hmm I would say HERITAGE. I’ll go with that. I’m very much into Carhartt and HUF, very simple, does what it’s supposed to.

TCF: What’s your best achievement so far?

Right now, I think the move to do my own exhibition. I’m obviously a bit nervous because it is all eyes on you, but I think I’m at the stage where i can do that. I really want to do things that are challenging and I think I’m heading in the right direction.

Yinka Ilori Chair-Table&Chair

TCF: Where do you see yourself in the next few years?

Would love to have a boutique of some sort, presenting the brand alongside other up and coming brands. That would be an ideal goal in the next few years. Having looked at brands and people like Wale Adeyemi and where he’s come from and what he’s doing now, you can only admire that and how long he’s been around for.

TCF: What would you advise other up and coming designer?

If you have a vision just go for it! When I came of Uni, I knew what I wanted to this, and there is always help out there. I got help from the Princes Trust and a Mentor. I believe if you got the passion things will happen and you get great opportunities. It has been hard and a few knock backs, but you learn to do things as you go. I never thought I’d be travelling to Milan, New York, Germany etc but I am and it’s been great.

Yinka Ilori Chairs-Odd One Out_Table&Chair_Stacks Stool

Yinka Ilori’s Exhibition ‘It Started With A Parable’ will be at The Old Shoreditch Station for live up-cycling sessions, using pieces donated by JaguarShoes and vintage modernist furniture from across East London, working in all three spaces, the building itself having been renovated and up-cycled by its owners JaguarShoes Collective. Open to the public from 8am, 13th September to 24th November at: The Old Shoreditch Station, 1 Kingsland Rd London E2 8AA


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