As this Cal­i­for­nian designer re­leases his big­gest col­lec­tion yet, we look at how fan­tasy and lux­ury play a big part in his work

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We take a closer look at glass­ware brand Nude, as well as talk­ing to Anya Hind­march about her cul­tural in­flu­ences and re­veal­ing why designer Ini Archi­bong is one to watch

What’s Ini’s back­ground? Born to Nige­rian im­mi­grant par­ents in Pasadena, Cal­i­for­nia, Archi­bong em­barked on an aca­demic ed­u­ca­tion, then briefly stud­ied busi­ness be­fore drop­ping out to em­brace his pas­sion for art and design. While work­ing to­wards a Bach­e­lor’s De­gree in En­vi­ron­men­tal Design at the Art Cen­ter Col­lege of Design (ACCD) in Pasadena he met Jerry Helling, pres­i­dent and creative director of Amer­i­can fur­ni­ture com­pany Bern­hardt Design. Win­ners of a stu­dent com­pe­ti­tion in con­junc­tion with the com­pany, Archi­bong and his team­mates de­signed ‘Serif’, a fold­ing ta­ble for of­fice use – it is still part of Bern­hardt Design’s core range to­day. ‘Jerry was the cat­a­lyst that opened my imag­i­na­tion up to the pos­si­bil­i­ties of a ca­reer in design,’ he says. ‘Through his sup­port, I be­lieved in my po­ten­tial to par­tic­i­pate on the big stage.’ Archi­bong es­tab­lished his own stu­dio, Design by Ini, in 2010.

What hap­pened next? Hav­ing left ACCD in 2012, he em­braced a role as in­dus­trial designer in the Sin­ga­pore of­fice of multi-dis­ci­plinary design stu­dio Eight Inc, be­fore en­rolling in the one-of-a-kind Mas Luxe Pro­gram at ÉCAL in Switzer­land in 2014. ‘It was a crash course in design for the lux­ury in­dus­try,’ he says. ‘We had real-world com­mis­sions from brands, and in­struc­tors in­clud­ing For­mafan­tasma and Bethan Laura Wood. I learned new ap­proaches and was in­tro­duced to the world of craft. It was the per­fect set­ting in which to grow.’

How about his lat­est work? Al­ways heav­ily in­flu­enced by the fan­tasy books he de­voured as a child, it was Archi­bong’s ethe­real, mar­ble and coloured glass ‘In The Se­cret Gar­den’ col­lec­tion, shown at Salone Satel­lite in 2016 that led to a call from Pavlo Sch­tak­l­eff, co-founder of Euro­pean brand Sé. To­gether they de­vel­oped ‘Col­lec­tion IV’, 22 pieces due to be re­leased in 2018. ‘The con­cept was “Be­low the Heav­ens”. Sé’s pre­vi­ous col­lec­tions spoke to me of in­te­ri­ors el­e­vated be­yond those you’d ex­pect to find on earth,’ says Archi­bong. ‘The pieces are all func­tional, but they carry a dream­like qual­ity.’

What else should I know? He’s also worked with stone com­pany Lapi­cida, Ital­ian light­ing man­u­fac­turer Kun­dalini and Madrid-based Moon­gata. Now liv­ing in Neucha­tel, Switzer­land, his plans for 2018 re­main un­der wraps, but im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ences are on the cards. ‘Gallery and mu­seum spa­ces al­low for that, so hope­fully you’ll see more projects along those lines in the fu­ture,’ says Archi­bong. de­sign­

‘The pieces are all func­tional, but they carry a dream­like qual­ity’

Clock­wise from top left ‘He­lios’ ta­bles, avail­able April, Sé (se-col­lec­ ‘Jadis’ light­ing sculp­ture for Amen & Amen (amen­na­ ‘Ero­sion’ vase, £7,680, Lapi­cida ( lapi­ ‘Col­lec­tion IV’ pink loungers, avail­able April, Sé...

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