Nifemi Marcus-Bello is the Nigerian designer shaping Africa’s designscape

by Editors Staff

The very first thing Nifemi Marcus-Bello does once we get on a name is to quintessentially thank his optimism. ‘I consider it’s what has gotten me to the place I’m at now as a designer,’ he says humbly. However he’s most intrigued at how he has managed to insert himself as one of many brightest and most excellent in a design ecosystem the place a number of designers possess the identical optimism and have a really distinctive imaginative and prescient for his or her particular person design oeuvres. 

Famend for his out-of-the-box designs, the designer and artistic director of NMbello studio is completely shaping the way forward for Africa’s designscape, upholding collaborations  and crafting modern designs which can be embellished in historic views; whether or not following the shape-trajectory of an outdated Nigerian artefact or a pre-colonial design idea, he interweaves them with the modern, creating conceptual merchandise that possess large creative worth and performance. 

Nifemi Marcus-Bello: curiosity and collaboration

‘LM’ stool, £495, by Nifemi Marcus-Bello, for Nmbello Studio, from Très Bien Store

(Picture credit score: Neil Godwin at Future Studios for Wallpaper*)

For a designer like Marcus-Bello, his curiosity supersedes him. ‘In my profession as a designer, I really feel like the place I’m proper now, I’ve much more questions than solutions. Questions on design practices, design training, on design a product,’ he tells Wallpaper*.

Rising up, Marcus-Bello all the time had a eager curiosity within the artwork of making. On the age of 13, he labored as an apprentice at a welding store, the place he remembers making a floating tub for his mom, the very first thing he made. His curiosity urged him to goal larger and he went on to check for a Bachelor’s diploma in industrial and product design on the College of Leeds, UK, then a grasp’s.

Nifemi Marcus-Bello M2 shelf

‘L2’ shelf, that includes a base and again in African mahogany (a wooden principally present in West Africa and Southern Nigeria). The shelf’s design nods to Nineteenth-century Igbo wood sculptures

(Picture credit score: Courtesy Nifrmi Marcus-Bello)

After college, Marcus-Bello labored at varied corporations, designing medical gadgets and furnishings. He was eager to arrange a spot he might assume and create the longer term, and NMbello Studio got here to be in 2017. ‘I began the studio to feed the curiosity I had mainly of making objects and merchandise that I consider might feed from manufacturing and manufacturing that was accessible throughout the continent,’ he says. ‘I additionally wished to determine what it meant to design in Africa in a recent approach.’

He has since develop into identified for gritty, sculptural furnishings. Certainly one of his most spectacular items is the ‘LM’ stool – a vibrant, geometric design that seems easy but has a fancy sensibility, and is multifunctional.

Bamboo kiosk installed by Waf skating brand and NMBello studio

Nmbello Studio’s bamboo kiosk for Nigerian skate model Waf

(Picture credit score: press)

Telling the story of the stool’s creation, Marcus-Bello remembers, ‘The beginning of this stool was mainly me knocking on manufacturing unit doorways, and seeing if anyone was keen to collaborate with a designer. I used to be capable of finding a generator case producer who agreed I might design round their manufacturing and assembling line, on the identical time creating these objects and types,’ he says, describing his want to push the boundaries of design whereas working throughout the prospects of current native manufacturing. ‘[The stool is] expensive to my coronary heart as a result of it’s one of many early success tales to come back out of the studio. Presently, we independently produce and distribute.’

Nifemi Marcus-Bello portable handwashing station

‘For the group by the group’ transportable hand washing station

(Picture credit score: Dennis Osadebe)

Like most designers of his calibre, he’s an adept lover of collaboration. The ‘LM’ stool solely counts as one, others embody the Waf kiosk (a bamboo construction for the Nigerian skateboard model) and ‘For the group by the group’ transportable hand washing station, which received a Wallpaper* Design Award as Life-Enhancer of the 12 months in 2021.

Presently, Marcus-Bellow is collaborating with a photographer for a work-in-progress analysis undertaking known as Brand, which revolves round archiving and documenting a number of portraits of design merchandise from a photojournalistic standpoint. ‘Lots of people have been speaking about design and distribution not current in modern Africa after which I realised there have been a variety of nameless works throughout main cities in Africa. I assumed it was essential to doc these merchandise as a result of these are contextually vital,’ he says.

Nifemi Marcus Bello lamp and shelf

‘Selah’ lamp and ‘L2’ Shelf

(Picture credit score: Courtesy Nifemi Marcus-Bello)

Being a designer in arguably the largest artwork and cultural metropolis within the continent is exhausting for Marcus-Bello. However he’s learnt to hunt solace in his studio, which has develop into his greatest escape from the bustle of Lagos. Nonetheless, he’s used to the chaos on this a part of the world and he’s most particularly not letting the quite a few challenges he faces outline his work.

Supply: Wallpaper

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