You can’t help but have a smile on your face when you see London-based designer Yinka Ilori’s boldly colorful works of art. Born to British-Nigerian parents, his work is inspired by traditional Nigerian parables and the African fabrics that he saw growing up. The artist has become well-known for upcycling pieces of unwanted vintage furniture and transforming them into eye-catching works of art. His work has been described as humorous, provocative and fun, with each piece telling a story.
He collaborated with architecture studio Pricegore for his most recent large-scale works. One of which is a hard to miss summer pavilion located outside of the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London. Aptly called the Colour Palace, it features a structure that’s elevated on pillars and with a façade decorated with multi colored geometric shapes all throughout that are made using hand-painted pieces of timber. The design of the pavilion’s structure, as well as the bright colours they chose to use, take inspiration from traditional African textiles found in the Balogum market in Lagos, as well as the markets in Peckham, where one can find a large Nigerian community. The work is a true fusion of the designer’s British and Nigerian roots.
In addition to the Colour Palace is Yinka’s transformation of an underpass in Battersea from a gloomy railway bridge to a bright Happy Street – literally. The permanent installation, called Happy Street, was developed with input from locals in the area and primary schools. Happy Street is made up of patterned enamel panels decorated with sixteen different colors, all selected for both their low cost and durability. Yinka is vehemently against the unnecessary waste prevalent in consumer cultures, which also drives him to upcycle and reuse materials for his works.
Yinka had a busy summer which also found him designing a Somerset House show celebrating fifty years of black creativity. The exhibition he created for Get Up, Stand Up Now, is another showcase of his signature colorful and graphic style. This time he transformed the storied halls of Somerset House with varying bold shades that were then used as a backdrop for the art work of black creatives.
With his love for bright and bold colors, it comes as no surprise that we spotted Yinka with our own Creative Director, Wale Adeyemi, going over colorful fabric swatches. We’re hoping the duo have a special secret project up their sleeves. In the meantime, when not creating his striking works of art or dazzling London with his colorful magic, Yinka can be found taking a selfie in a bright (of course) colored B-side t-shirt. Just like Yinka’s vibrant creations, he wears his bright blue, round neck B-side shirt, which features a tie-dye print and includes a graffiti design, with equally bright red pants and a bucket hat. Fashion is after all, another form of art.