Inside the West Africa–Inspired Forms of Studio Lani
Designer Lani Adeoye is giving new life to traditional silhouettes and fabrication methods
Photography by Yinan Xia
Long before she began her studies at Parsons School of Design, Lani Adeoye sketched a form – one which remained persistent in her mind. It had the visual lightness of a rattan basket and the energetic curves of vines: organic shapes evoking rhythm.
Today, dialling in from Lagos, Nigeria, Adeoye is seeing those architectures come to life. Since founding Studio Lani in 2015, the Nigerian–Canadian designer has offered her contemporary take on traditional West African silhouettes, earning her emerging talent nods from around the world.
Working between Lagos, Toronto and New York City, Adeoye draws on memories of her Yoruba culture for her designs, explaining how she became particularly hooked on the iconic form of the West African talking drum, which takes a prominent role in celebrations and events.
“I started to deconstruct the drum. The rope became metal and that metal began to trace the inner hourglass component, taking on the drum’s hidden shape.”
Through breakout collections, Adeoye evolved her understanding of sculpted metal, and it has now emerged as the primary material in Studio Lani’s 2020 lighting collection. The series features innovative lamps designed to hang from the ceiling, rest upon the floor or balance delicately within a larger frame, depending on the mood. Once illuminated, these hand-formed nests create dynamic shadow play around a room.
As most pieces are manufactured by artisans in her hometown (some are also made in Toronto), Lagos remains a cornerstone of Adeoye’s operation, which helps to support both the region’s traditional fabrication methods and its growing design scene. And she’s harnessing the same gesture expressed in her tables and lighting in everything from gallery installations to patio furniture. “I believe if you have a concept you feel connected to, that concept can work on various scales and in various forms.”
This spirit of translation becomes the signature of Adeoye’s practice: it constantly reimagines its own dimensions and makes old new again.
Visit Studio Lani website.