Yinka Ilori tells stories with chairs, his energetic and upcycled vision is inspired by the Nigerian parables and glorious wax fabric patterns he grew up with as a child. With each bespoke piece he makes, a new story is created – a playful and provocative conversation with themes that can include hope, sexuality and social class. Aware that the traditional parables are as relevant today as ever and wanting to share them with the world, Yinka travels the globe facilitating workshops in his signature hybrid style.
Yinka gives new life to waste materials and with great verve, no one else I know works like this, this heady mix. His furniture can take on new meanings depending on how it is used or positioned, further bringing the gap between art and design in real-time. Add to that a degree in furniture and product design from London Metropolitan University, and the world really is your very own colourful masterpiece. Yinka took some time out to answer our questions. Get involved. X
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What matters? FAMILY
What is your spirit animal? I DONT HAVE ONE
Morning ritual? Go for a run and have an Avocado on toast with spinish with a cup of Green tea for breakfast. Well, when I can can!
Food from the gods? JOLLOF RICE AND BOTTLE OF IMPORTED NIGERIAN GUINNESS.
Guilty pleasure? CHEESECAKES
Early bird or Night owl? NIGHT OWL
Favourite destination? NIGERIA
What do you do and why do you do it? I TELL STORIES THROUGH FURNITURE, INSPIRED BY NIGERIAN PARABLES. I DO THIS BECAUSE I LOVE TELLING STORIES AND I’M ADDICTED TO BEAUTIFUL CHAIRS THAT HOLD POWERFUL NARRATIVES.
Who would you most like to work with this year? WOULD REALLY LIKE TO WORK WITH SOME FURNITURE MAKERS/DESIGNERS IN NIGERIA BUT MAYBE NOT THIS YEAR.
It’s an exciting time to be a creative. There is a global push, a transformation.. Make comment. YES AND HOPEFULLY IT CONTINUES.
Real life hero? Who inspired you on this creative path? MY PARENTS ARE MY REAL LIFE HERO’S. MARTINO GAMPER INSPIRED MY CREATIVE PATH AT UNIVERSITY BECAUSE WE DID A PROJECT INSPIRED BY HIS CHAIR COLLECTION ‘100 CHAIRS IN A 100 DAYS’
How do you work through rough spots, anxiety or blockages in your creative practice? ALWAYS GO FOR A RUN AND CLEAR MY MIND.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future? TO HAVE MY OWN GALLERY, WHERE I CAN EXHIBIT MY OWN WORK AND WORK OF OTHER ARTISTS THAT I RESPECT.
What has your practice taught you? TO BE PATIENT AND BE NICE TO EVERYONE EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT NICE TO YOU BECAUSE WHAT EVER GOES AROUND COMES AROUND. IT’S THAT SIMPLE.
This is what happens in one of YINKA’S WORKSHOPS: You can either bring your own chair or he will provide one for you. In the workshop you will get the opportunity to listen to some thought-provoking Nigerian music while you work on your chair for 4 hours. You will have the chance to paint your chair and upholster your chair using Dutch Wax prints, leaving you with a chair you can take home and a chair that has a story!
If you’re interested in seeing Yinka come to Australia and you’d love to upcycle your own chair in one of his workshops? Get in touch with a vote of interest and we will see what we can do.
Photos: Veerle Evans with thanks.