As this Californian designer releases his biggest collection yet, we look at how fantasy and luxury play a big part in his work
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. designbyini.com
‘The pieces are all functional, but they carry a dreamlike quality’
Clockwise from top left ‘Helios’ tables, available April, Sé (se-collections.com). ‘Jadis’ lighting sculpture for Amen & Amen (amennamen.com). ‘Erosion’ vase, £7,680, Lapicida ( lapicida.com). ‘Collection IV’ pink loungers, available April, Sé...