Yinka Ilori on How His Technicolor Designs Tell Stories of His Nigerian Heritage

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“['Colour Palace'] is intended as a celebration of color, pattern, and light, and a reflection of multicultural London,” says multidisciplinary designer Yinka Ilori. Photo by Adam Scott


December 29, 2020

London-based Yinka Ilori brings optimism and light to unexpected places with work across mediums.

In summer 2019 Yinka’s “Colour Palace” emerged outside Dulwich Picture Gallery as a celebration of his native London as well as his Nigerian roots.

Striking in its provocative contrast to the picture gallery, itself a protected historic building, “Colour Palace” represents modern London and its people. The pavilion’s colorful pattern, inspired by Dutch wax prints found in a Lagos market and in London’s Little Lagos, brings Yinka’s Nigerian heritage to the design, creating an artistic dialogue between parts of his identity.

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Yinka Ilori uses his design practice to tell stories, particularly of his Nigerian heritage. Photo courtesy of Yinka Ilori

Yinka’s maximalist work, from murals to installations, gives surprising color and cheer to an often gray London. The 2020 winner of London Design Festival’s Emerging Design Medal considers himself a storyteller, and many of his works are inspired by Nigerian parables and cultural tokens that resonate with him.

His design practice began in 2011 when he began upcycling furniture with colors, patterns, and textures inspired by Nigerian fabrics and stories. He’s since gone on to transform everything from the Thessaly Road Bridge to an indoor skatepark. Yinka also designed a line of homeware in his signature style, launched in late 2020.

A version of this article originally appeared in Sixtysix Issue 05 with the headline “Yinka Ilori: Multidisciplinary Artist, London, United Kingdom.” Subscribe today.

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