It’s been a minute. I just checked the date of my last published article and I myself was wowed! But hey! Let’s leave the past in the past shall we?
I was opportune to have an exclusive interview with the founder of an amazingly awesome furniture design brand called Ilé Ilà. The fist time I came across the brand was during the Bellafricana ACE Awards 2018 in Lagos, Nigeria, and I can remember just standing and staring at these sets of beautiful furniture made with Aso Oke. They were so colorful, looked very comfortable and all I could say to myself was, ”Oh wow, this is art!”
This interview gave me more insight to what this brands stands for, why they do what they do, and some of the challenges they face as a business. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. Ladies and Gentlemen, I introduce to you, Tosin Oshinowo, Founder and Creative Director of Ile Ila.
Please introduce yourself and your background
My name is Tosin Oshinowo. I am an Architect and run a design practice in Lagos, Nigeria called cmDesign Atelier. I am also a product designer and run a lifestyle furniture line called Ile Ila.
Tell us about your work. How did Ile Ila start?
Ile Ila, is a lifestyle furniture line designed and hand-made in Lagos, Nigeria. The brand design period-conscious furniture with a contemporary African content.
How did you come about the name and what does it mean?
Ilé-Ilà, means House of Lines in Yoruba,
What is your niche and how did you know it was a market to get into?
Our business is focused on accent chairs and ottomans. we really focused on the celebration and capsulation of Culture.
Where do you get the inspiration for your products?
We get our inspiration from everything around us. In particular we have a thing for color and textures and there is so much variety with Aso Oke.
Can you remember one of the first products you made? What makes it memorable?
One of the first chairs I made is still in my home. It’s an assortment of purple and lilac Aso Oke. It is really is one of the reasons who I got into the idea of color combination.
What are some of the challenges you face in your business?
Biggest challenge has been scaling up of production due to capital costs of the carpentry machinery. Currently, production is slow due to the machinery available, if we can scale up we can reduce time and reduce production cost and pass this saving on the our customers.
Do you have any regrets venturing into this line of business?
Not at all. Because I have stayed in the realm of design and creativity both businesses feed off each other.
What is your most popular product?
It’s interesting but difficult to answer. different demographics like different things. All the chairs have done well but i can almost guess peoples preference if I know their background or gender. In terms of sales the Alaafia did exceptionally well.
To what extent do you draw upon your Nigerian (African) heritage for your work?
We are all products of our experiences and exposures and it is this combination that is reflected in my work.
What are some of your short term and long term goals, both in your business and life in general?
We really want to push international sales. right now it’s expensive to export and this pushes up the price. short term we want to add more furniture lines to the brand.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I don’t know how to tie gele….. and I hardly wear Aso Oke.
What profession would you be in if you weren’t in the Furniture Design industry?
I probably would have been a visual artist.
If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who wants to start their own business in your industry, what would it be?
Make sure you get your business properly registered and engage the services of an accountant from the start and make sure you pay your tax.
And finally, Here are some more images of pieces by Ilé-Ilà
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