Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Design Jockey Session

Lanre Lawal won the inaugural edition of the International Young Design Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2005. His intriguing collection of graphic, web and multimedia designs over a period of five years swayed the judges in his favour. Lanre is the CEO and Creative Director at The Design Jockey Sessions. He studied Mathematics (Science) at Lagos State University and the mélange of his academic foundation in logic and his intimacy with Lagos’ dynamism reflects strongly in his designs. He speaks to 2020visionng about his products and the future of design in Nigeria.

Did you think you would win the IYDEY award in 2005?

I was optimistic about the Nigerian award. After making it past 140 Nigerian finalists, at home here, I had to be even more optimistic about winning in England. I got 7,500pounds to spend on a project.

What did you spend the money on?

I had a lot of sketches of products and I spent the money making those products such as the Armistice chair, The Longitude Wall Shelf, a CD rack, the Lawyer’s Gambit Bar stool and various other products. A number of these products were unfortunately damaged by DHL whilst in transit to London last year for the 100% expo at Earls Court. The few that made it were exhibited and have been on various design websites around the world.

How has your background in Mathematics aided your design skills?

First, the central skill to my design career is three dimensional animation. Within 3D, there are the Cartesian xyz axis nodes that enable peeking 360 at the object or mesh being modeled. Another personal reflection is that imagination precedes logic. Logic, another word for Math, seems a subset of imagination…like a state capital, while imagination is the Planet. I find the word 'imagination' to be an accurate description of my work. First I feel, then imagine, and then practice. The practicing process is assisted by logic. So the laws of perspective (sans McLuhan's ideas) for hand-drawing, applying Design Software and Math are logic-based assistants. You may need to apply logic to make imagination coherent.

What do you find most fascinating about Lagos?

The kinetic diversity, instant familiarity, colors in the sky, the native language, all the buses Warhol in front of you and Technicolor is a sunset away. A sense of freedom you can't rationalize when things could actually be dangerous and laden with uncertainty. Happiness is more intense here. It makes a knife out of your alertness. Authenticity is paradoxically cheap and folks are ready to put passion in anything; no matter how trivial. I am very in touch with Lagos and Lagos is very central to my work.

Is design profitable?

On the personal level; design is my calling, I have spent eight years in the field, and the answer is yes, design is very profitable. It was toil for a while, and gradually one got more clients who trusted my creativity with their brands. On the national level, we’ve not even begun to articulate what design represents in the Nigerian canon. All endeavors in Nigerian design while having existed have not been categorized or documented for commercial value. There is design within in the arts context and there is design in the industrial context. I am interested in design in the industrial context which is actually far more profitable. This is where you design a car, a shirt, a pair of shoes, a chair and make 400 or 4000 pieces of it exactly the same. I think there needs to be a system that encourages the awareness of design (whether in the traditional media, formal education or blogs like these), and how revenue can be derived from design even at a small scale industry level. Things like that put into motion and looking at the UK who derive 25% of their GDP through the creative industries and looking at London that is being celebrated as the design capital of the world. We can take a studied cue from the UK's creative industries and apply our own indigenous culture to industrial design.
All images, products and designs in this post by Lanre Lawal.

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