For Tosin Oshinowo, founder and director of Lagos-based architecture firm cmDesign Atelier, the common thread among the city’s most exciting designers is that their creations celebrate Nigerian heritage and maintain "a truth to materiality." While Nigeria’s economy is the largest in Africa—with an established film industry and fashion scene—the country’s manufacturing sector isn’t as robust, which presents a hurdle for many product designers.
"You have to create from the bottom up, because often what you’re looking for doesn’t exist in this environment," she says. "The irony is that it really pushes the opportunity to be creative." When it comes to using local resources, the Lagos-born, London-educated architect and designer leads by example. Oshinowo’s llé llà furniture line, which celebrates her Yoruba heritage through hand-loomed creations, uses Nigerian teak and traditional asò-oké textiles for the armchairs in the Adùnní collection.
"In this part of the world, we’ve been brought up thinking that things that were local were not terribly exciting," Oshinowo says. "But there’s a generation of Nigerians who are now growing up in a place where their own creativity is being appreciated."
Some of the individuals at the forefront of this renaissance include Nifemi Marcus-Bello, Obida Obioha, and Olubunmi Adeyemi, who, like Oshinowo, were born in Nigeria and studied abroad and have since set up shop in Lagos. "Because of his [well-connected professional] background, Nifemi probably has the opportunity to get things done internationally, but he’s made a very conscious effort to have his designs made in Nigeria," Oshinowo explains.
Oshinowo cites Rele Gallery and the Temple Muse concept shop as two spaces in Lagos that have been "very intentional" about showcasing young Nigerian artists’ and designers’ work. "The entrepreneurial creative spirit is alive and well in my city," she says.
"It’s exciting to be able to celebrate your culture and create pieces using local materials within that context. Hopefully it will help a generation of Nigerians to find their voice and be proud of where they’re from."
—Tosin Oshinowo, cmDesign Atelier
Yasmin Stools by Obida Obioha
Handle Bowl, Mortar + Pestle 2, and Masai Long Spoon by Dá Brand
Spice Bowl by Dá Brand
Àdùnní Collection by llé llá
Credit: Photo captions written by Adrian Madlener
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