It all starts with a parable with Yinka Ilori

February 4, 2014

In late 2012, I posted about moving to London, becoming obsessed with home furnishings and coming across the amazing work of furniture designer Yinka Ilori. It’s funny because, I write about people like Yinka and admire, but it never occurred to me that I could actually meet the people I write about. It’s almost like when I was in Sydney I was in a bubble inaccessible to the rest of the world and now that I have moved to London the bubble has burst so suddenly and everything and everyone seems so accessible. I wrote about having a piece of Yinka’s work in my home and no one would touching it!  I didn’t think that I would soon have a personal adaptation of Yinka‘s work in my home!

It all began like this….

I had heard somewhere about Yinka‘s work being exhibited at Jaguar Shoes in September 2013 not long after I had arrived in London. I had it in my mind that I would check it out, but time wasn’t my friend. A few weeks later I happened to watch a VoxAfrica clip featuring Yinka and it mentioned that the exhibit at Jaguar Shoes was either ending or it had ended. I went in a bit of a panic and thought ‘Nice one Gillean. You are living in London and you just let that event pass you by right under your nose ‘. Then I found out about workshops Yinka organised for people to get a feel for his creative process. That just felt like it was adding insult to injury. I really wanted to be apart of it, mainly because I love learning about the thinking and production of someone’s creative process.For example I was more fascinated by the 3-minute ‘Inside Magna Carta Holy Grail‘ clip than the actual album by Jay-Z. You know how they say it’s about the journey and not the destination. In this case of course the outcome of Yinka’s work is amazing, but learning about his process who just seal the deal for me.

I made it my short term mission to find Yinka and see if I could weave myself into one of his workshops. Weeks later, it was mission accomplished! I signed up for the workshop the hopes of upcycling a chair by the end of it. I knew Yinka worked with parables, but I had a different idea to how he worked so my expectation was different. I thought we would be upcycling chairs, adding a parable to suit the chair and then be on our way with a unique chair. Instead it all started with a parable which became the foundation of our process. It’s the parable before the function and not the other way around. That is what made this experience worth while.

After a month of hard labour, I don’t think you be quitting your day job and wanting to become a furniture designer. However, you will really appreciate his practice, thinking and craft. That’s what he hopes people get from the workshop and that’s certainly what I have gotten. It took me two weeks to come to this kind of thinking though, just because I had a different expectation.

We probably have one more session-ish to go since we haven’t finished, but I hope to show you the completed piece soon. I wrote in my first post about Yinka that if I ever get one of his pieces no one will ever touch it. Everyone will look and admire like it is in a gallery. Now that ‘if’ has changed to ‘when‘ I get my Yinka-inspired-parable piece, no one will be allowed to touch it because it will be exhibited at the  ‘Gallery of Gillean’ aka. my room!

Keep up to date with our progress on our instagram (afroklectic).

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The Art of Storytelling is a continuation of Yinka’s live up-cycling workshop for Milan Design Week. It’s modernist furniture meets an African parable at the hands of designer Yinka Ilori. The workshop allows you to join Yinka in up-cycling, storytelling and upholstering. If you are interested taking part, you can email Yinka at (subject: The Art of Storytelling Workshop participation).


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