It’s a blistering hot Saturday and the sight of runners pacing along the streets of Obalende reminds one that the Access Bank Lagos Marathon is in full swing. Some routes are barricaded, others open. It’s here, in the sizzling city of Lagos, that Nifemi Marcus-Bello has made his home in the suburbs of Ikoyi.
Nifemi is unruffled, dressed in a black polo shirt and blue sweatpants – a relaxed look. His apartment is adorned with art, acrylic and oil pastels filling every inch of his white walls.
Nifemi, 28, returned in 2013 to Nigeria from the UK, and with a pledge to make life easier for everyone with his products. The product turned industrial designer is the leading designer at Tecno Mobile, a mobile phone company founded in Nigeria and headquartered in Hong Kong. Nifemi has also successfully carved out a niche for himself in the Nigerian entrepreneurial scene with his furniture. One of his more popular products is a flat pack table, Tebur, pronounced Tay-boo.
We recently interviewed Nifemi to delve deeper into his industrial design world. He talks about honing his design skills, visiting art places as well as working with other product designers and carpenters.
Who is Nifemi Marcus-Bello?
Nifemi is the lead industrial designer for Tecno mobile, and also an independent studio designer who designs consumer good product for clients in West Africa, and Nigeria.
How did you know this was your path – what happened, what connected, what makes you passionate about what you do?
So, I attended the University of Leeds in England, Product design for my B.Sc., and Masters in product design as well.
For my influence, my mother always wanted me to study art. She wasn’t the regular mom who wanted one to become a Medical doctor or Engineer. I drew a lot, I draw every single time, and honestly that was the only thing I excelled in in secondary school – visual art classes. I wasn’t great at anything else, just art and a little of mathematics.
Growing up, anytime I had a chance to travel, I was always pushed to see what factories were doing; I was always pushed to educate myself by going to museums. I remember going on family trips even if it was just Africa, my mum would tell me to go to that place, to go to this place that these people make the best things, or they have a different technique. So my mum actually pushed me subconsciously to study product design. But I only found out about product design after studying History of Arts, Graphic design and English for my foundation and there was an open day at the University of Leeds and I just walked in, and unknown to me they were talking about product design and I said ‘Wow, this is what I was born to do’
So what fuels your desire to be a product designer?
I think it’s solving day to day problems. They’re so many problems not just in Nigeria but in the world, a lot of problems that haven’t been solved.I just try to find the easiest and best way to solve problems. I think that design can play a crucial role in the development of Nigeria. There are so much infrastructure and manufacturing possibilities that can be done here and is yet to be fully explored by a majority of designers.