Olubunmi Adeyemi's African-inspired brand of minimalism
Posted: 21 November 2017
Olubunmi Adeyemi, the Lagos-based designer behind the Afrominima movement, has launched a minimalist lifestyle brand called DÁ. The first collection comprises simple wooden kitchen utensils, such as spoons, platters, bowls and spatulas. They’re all handmade, finished with a striking dab of colour and are definitely the kind of thing you'll want to keep on display. Here, we chat to Olubunmi about his new venture. Tell us about your passion for the minimalist movement. My love for the minimalist movement is inspired by my African culture. Our dynamic yet simple language, food and everyday living has greatly influenced me to pursue this movement; [it's about] connecting our past, present and future. I realised there is a strength in focusing on the basics, the ABCs of design, creativity and innovation, especially in today's busy urban environment. The key is to focus on basic needs in a way that's innovative, functional and aesthetically pleasing. How do you feel minimalism moves Africa forward? Africa is an enigmatic continent, rich in talent, culture and natural resources. Our future lies in knowing who we are and where we are coming from, connecting these dots and using this in the modern and forward-thinking context. I believe Africa is the future. We should create and add value to the world through our basic lifestyle needs in our own unique way. For example, in the Yoruba culture, we have a popular women's attire called buba (a minimal top) and iro (a simple wrap skirt). There are folktales that say a god named Oduduwa introduced this clothing design to the Yoruba people and till this day it is still relevant in the culture, both for its design and functionality. I believe that to move forward in Africa we need to go back to the basics. What inspired the colour scheme? The colour scheme was quite intuitive. Our culture is rich with bold colours such as red, black and orange. For me, that touch of colour connects to our heritage, as everything has colour in Africa: our food, our music, our art and our dance all express our love for colour. Your products have a distinctive Japanese and Scandinavian influence, any reason for these two cultures in particular? The Japanese and Scandinavian culture goes way back. As I mentioned, our culture is our future: without culture, we have no future. The minimalist aesthetic and ethos in the Japanese culture greatly influenced my approach to design: simple forms, clean lines but very richly cultured and expressive. The Scandinavian style movement is characterised by simplicity, minimalism and functionality. These two cultures share the same values of connecting the past, the present and the future. Where did your interest in these cultures stem from? As a designer and lifestyle entrepreneur, I was inspired by the input these two cultures have brought to the built-in design and architectural world. Designers such as Oki Sato of Nendo and many Scandinavian design brands such as Muuto have greatly contributed to my approach to design and the Afrominima movement. What did you draw from African culture and design for Afrominima? The meaning of Afrominima is 'afrocentric minimalism'. The ethos and philosophy is drawn from the African culture. For example, one of our popular kitchen tools, which is called Omorogun, is a traditional kitchen utensil used for turning doughy African dishes. This cultured object was redesigned to fit into today's urban lifestyle. What has been the most exciting part of building the Afrominima brand? Building Afrominima has been an interesting journey and it's still growing and evolving. From being featured on numerous global design platforms and selling products to the local and international markets, as well as meeting people and inspiring people, I've enjoyed it all. But, most exciting of all is the chance I have to express myself creatively. Afrominima is spreading a positive awareness on how design can be a tool to influence, bring about change and boost our economy. Keep up with DÁ on Instagram.