‘A Trifle of Colour’, 2020
IF YOU WANT a life-affirming blast of colour, turn to London-based British designer Yinka Ilori. Inspired by his Nigerian heritage, colour and pattern act as a form of social memory throughout his work, weaving traditional stories and parables through his furniture and architecture.
Ilori began with up-cycling vintage furniture, using the bold West African fabrics that surrounded him as a child. In 2017, he created a multicoloured giant playground in the foyer of CitizenM, a hotel in London’s Shoreditch, based on his fond memories of the communal playground on the Marquess Estate in Islington, where he grew up. In 2019, he unveiled ‘The Colour Palace’ and brought the colours of Lagos to the grounds of Dulwich Picture Gallery, south London, in the second Summer Pavilion commission – a collaboration with architecture studio Pricegore. That same year, his studio transformed the Neo-Classical environment of Somerset House into a riotously chromatic backdrop for the exhibition, Get Up Stand Up Now, celebrating fifty years of Black creativity in Britain. This summer, Ilori remotely supervised the construction of the purpose-built Colorama skate park within the La Condition Publique cultural centre near Lille, France – the vivid contrasts of bright and pastel colours bringing joy to this former warehouse.
‘A Trifle of Colour’ was commissioned by the Danish textile company, Kvadrat, as part of Knit! – its third annual design project. Twenty-eight designers from around the world were challenged to create pieces with Kvadrat Febrik knitted textiles as the protagonist. This cruciform adjustable chair-bench hybrid looks partly like a piece of playground apparatus – a roundabout maybe – and partly like an exercise in social analysis. How and where we sit, and in relation to whom, are critical in most societies. As Ilori has said: “Chairs are always conversation starters. We think on them, we cry on them, we dance with them.” They shape our thoughts and our behaviour.
‘A Trifle of Colour’ has removable and adjustable backrests, inviting the sitters to decide the chair’s configuration and role for themselves. Four different types of chair can be formed in Ilori’s system, allowing for four different situations, perhaps especially pertinent in this new age of social distancing. The whole exercise becomes amusing rather than dry because of the playful way Ilori has used the highly textured coloured fabrics he has chosen.
Knit! was to have been launched during Milan’s Salone del Mobile 2020. Now it has been unveiled in Kvadrat’s Copenhagen showroom to coincide with the city’s 3 Days of Design (3rd – 5th September 2020), but will remain on display there until the end of October. You can also catch the whole show online.
Knit! – showcasing the creativity of 28 talented designers, interpreting the knitted textile collection by Kvadrat Febrik in their creations.