Esquire (UK)

Celestial Objects

A furniture designer reaches for the stars

- By Johnny Davis se-collection­s.com

Ini Archibong has an unusual outlook for our self-centred times: that the talents we’ve been given should be used to benefit everyone around us. The 35-year-old Nigerian-American designer has what he calls “a philosophi­cal stance”. Archibong grew up in California, in a religious community chosen by his parents, who emigrated to the US to attend colleges on the East Coast. After earning a presidenti­al scholarshi­p to the University of Southern California to study business, he found he was spending more time at his local Theosophic­al Society library. Spirituali­ty took precedence over business and he dropped out, moving back home to take a job at a local architectu­re firm while completing a five-year course in environmen­tal design at Pasadena’s ArtCenter College of Design.

Now based in Switzerlan­d, Archibong shares similar design philosophi­es to Sé, the European furniture brand recognised for its elegant, graceful designs, pastel shades and nods to Gio Ponti. Sé’s founder-director Pavlo Schtakleff selected Archibong to devise its latest collection, “Below the Heavens”, the first part of which debuted during 2018’s Salone del Mobile Milano fair. Its 11 pieces included sculptural chairs and sofas, gently curved benches, a mirror and a 15-part handblown glass chandelier. Some showed a hint of whimsy, like the deep upholstere­d “Circe” chair, while others had been inspired by the sky: the “Eos” and “Helios” lights.

Sé and Archibong will present the concluding half, which will be more grounded and practical, at the fair this April: it includes a dining table, daybed, coffee table, executive desk and chair. “Ini’s design language is very original, but marries seamlessly with Sé’s timeless, luxury direction,” explains Schtakleff. “The intention was to produce pieces that were completely unexpected, but somehow still recognisab­ly Sé.”

“The forms are more monolithic,” says Archibong, who had previously created pieces for Hermès, Lapicida and Bernhardt. “For these, my references include Stonehenge, Machu Picchu and Giant’s Causeway: to make you feel like you’re connecting the stars to the Earth. The first part was a little feminine, the second has a more imposing, masculine energy. It’s more direct.”

 ??  ?? Above: a coffee table from the upcoming ‘Below the Heavens’ Collection IV Part Two designed by Ini Archibong for Sé
Above: a coffee table from the upcoming ‘Below the Heavens’ Collection IV Part Two designed by Ini Archibong for Sé
 ??  ?? Below: the award-winning Nigerian-American furniture designer inspects a component from his new interiors collection in the Sé workshop
Below: the award-winning Nigerian-American furniture designer inspects a component from his new interiors collection in the Sé workshop

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