Olubunmi Adeyemi is a Nigerian designer, lifestyle entrepreneur and interior architect, who, from an early age developed a fascination with design and creativity. The StyleHQ caught up with the new design talent to speak about the ‘àga’ concept, a startup lifestyle brand inspired by neo-African culture, minimalism and functional design.
- Kindly tell our readers a bit about your background.
I studied design at the Inchbald School of Design, London and Design-Time School of Interior Design, Cape Town. I also took part in a creative enterprise program at The Lagos Business School, which was run by The British Council and The University of Glamorgan. This had a lot of influence on starting up a business and creating a brand. During the program I was mentored by Lisa Folawiyo, and gained a lot of insight on how she started her fashion brand. Her story and mentoring sessions greatly inspired me.
- So what is the àga concept?
The àga concept focuses on everyday urban living. I wanted to create a brand that would be powered by design and make an impact in our world; a lifestyle brand inspired by design and African culture.
The àga concept is a fusion of African cultural heritage and the urban contemporary lifestyle in Africa today, using locally sourced raw materials, and combining local craftsmanship with modern design techniques to create beautiful minimalist and functional objects in different categories from Kitchen, Bathroom, Living, Garden, Kids, Storage, Tech and Furniture for everyday living. We focus on innovation and simplicity through traditional and modern methods, connecting the old with the new.
The word “àga” with the intonation mark is a Yoruba word (A popular language in West Africa) translated in to English as a functional wooden object e.g. “àga tabili” – a table, “àga ijoko” – a chair, “àga inaraya” – a sofa and “àga itise” – a footstool. This word, which is rich in culture and tradition, gave birth to “the àga concept”.
- How did you identify the unique opportunity?
I believe the combination of design and entrepreneurship today is mainly about thinking BIG! and outside the box, it’s about freeing your mind to the endless opportunities around you. In Africa today the opportunities are endless but the challenge we face is acting upon them—ideas are worthless without action. Culture is always a major factor to key into; sometimes to move forward we need to look back and find out where we are coming from. Every idea must have a good story and everyone has a unique story.