Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Pokit: Smart Pants

Above: Bayode Oduwole
Photo credits: Ade Omoloja
Stumped mannequins suspended from the ceiling on strings, clean minimalist interiors, traditional craftsmanship baptized in a blend of science and modern British design. It is called Pokit, pronounced poket or “apo, we started out making bags,” says founder Bayode Oduwole of the line which he co owns with his wife Claire Oduwole. Bayode started out as a pharmaceutical chemist but had his own ideas of good design. Frustrated with hollow fashion trends, he decided to put his time where his heart was and began making big pockets for the small but knowing clientele. Wallpaper featured Pokit in their June 2008 edition titled The Secret Elite and Mrs. Oduwole agrees that their clients often like Pokit to be “their little secret.” But Bayode has a contrary opinion, “if there is a word I could delete from the English dictionary it’s the word exclusive” he says with finality. As with Pokit’s patrons, the line has since expanded to men and women’s casual and formal wear with a specialty in suits. The label has a wide range of customers from “the 50-year-old Cambridge professor to the 16-year-old fashion kid” says Bayode. The average Pokit suit costs £700 (N161, 000) and takes two weeks to make against the average Savile row suit, which costs £3,000 (N690, 000.00) and takes four months to make. What sets Pokit apart from the pack is “modesty and honesty and this is coherent through our design and the lay out of our store. We make sure that the best quality goes into material, craftsmanship and service. With our suits, we work with silhouettes 50% of the time and the other 50% of the time we focus on how it wears. We have a modern take on making our suits. So it doesn’t matter that a person spends a week hemming a jacket because a machine can do that far quicker today and far better than it could two hundred years ago when the sewing machine was first made.”

Above: Claire and Bayode Oduwole
Photo credits: Ade Omoloja
Running features in Pokit’s designs are domes, round edges, earth, and hexagons inspired by Richard Buckminster Fuller- an American architect who was famous in the 1950s up until his death for his geodesic domes. Pulling inspiration from America, England and Japan, Oduwole maintains that he is a Nigerian citizen of the world and the Pokit brand is a global brand. His clients are also global which is why he vehemently denounces the ethnic tag. In a passionate crescendo he argues “A designer is a designer, if he is good he is good. Too often I get people coming to me saying they got a scam fax from someone in Nigeria, and what I ask is, did you send the money? The one who sends the fax and the one who sends the money are both complicit in the scam. The only thing is the white man is thinking ‘those spear slinging Africans can’t possibly be clever enough to swindle me’. For too long the West has used the Nigerian tag negatively and I refuse to be the ethnic on the block.” When asked if there are Nigerian influences in his designs he says in Yoruba“When I am creating, I think to myself, I don’t want to get verbal abuse in Yoruba because it stings so I know I better do this right”. Needless to say Pokit’s women’s summer collection featured a row of tweed skirts broken with damask bands. “If you look at it and you recognize damask as Nigerian then fine, but otherwise, just enjoy it as a good design.”

Pokit is located on 53 Lamb Conduit Street, London UK
This 2020visionng article is powered by Interswitch.

Friday, 19 September 2008

East or West, Which is Best?

Ken Livingstone is no longer Mayor of London but he remains keen on design. This is why when the Financial Times sponsored a London Design Festival talk on creative cities, Old Ken as he is fondly called, was one of the three panelists summoned to the table. The other panelists were China expert Philip Dodd and the master of successful design cities- Tyler Brule- Founder of Wallpaper and Monocle magazines.

Since the oppressive success of the Beijing Olympics and the declaration by the World Tourism Organisation that China will be the biggest tourist destination by the year 2020, China has been on the lips of designers and politicians around the world. It is no wonder that the focus on successful state capitals at this debate was Beijing, China.

The Bird's Nest: China's National Stadium.
Photo credits: EO

China’s image enjoyed a long overdue varnish through the eyes of the limited numbers who attended the Beijing games. The Bird’s Nest has become the nation’s iconic symbol and their national design campaign from the grand opening ceremony to the day-to-day sights and sounds and the droves of voulounteers helped to create an effective modern spin on traditional Chinese culture.

This brand success is no accident. Preparations for the Olympics cost a modest estimate of 40million US Dollars. These funds were channeled into training volounteers, English lessons for the scores of taxi drivers who drove visitors around Beijing, the new subway lines, the new airport terminal (largest in the world), connecting Beijing to Tianjin with the fastest train in the world (two hours away by road reduces to 23minutes at 350km/hr) The list is endless.

Tyler Brule- Founder Wallpaper and Monocle, Philip Dodd- China Expert and Former Mayor of London- Ken Livingstone.
Photo: Ade Omoloja

The debate leap frogged the established success of Beijing as a successfully designed city to the question of how England is to learn from China considering China’s seeming complexities, the language barriers and the 2012 London Olympics.

Philip Dodd offered the answer brilliantly: “Five million Chinese are learning English and 500 English people are learning Chinese, it is clear, they will understand us far sooner than we understand them”

Although Chinese numbers may be tough to beat, Ken Livingstone concurred with Philip by recommending that Chinese is taught in primary schools across England.

40, 000 Chinese nationals live in Lagos and enjoy their own newspaper in Chinese script as the number of Chinese investments grows by the day. Yet the crucial question for us is, how many Nigerians are learning Chinese? How is Nigeria managing its relationship with China? What can Nigeria learn from China as a successful tourist destination and a growing success as a brand?
What is the design master plan for Nigeria by the year 2020?

The annual tradition: A photo with Ken Livingstone
Photo credits: Ade Omoloja
This 2020visionng article is powered by Interswitch.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Design by Definition.

Above- Ade Omoloja: Design Photographer for 2020visionng
Photo EO.

It's the sixth edition of the London Design Festival and this will be our third year of attending the event.
This year, our trip is powered by Interswitch, the Nigerian company that has redesigned our transaction lifestyle in Nigeria.

Like the 2020team, Interswitch has designed goals towards our nation's vision of the year 2020 and they are deliberately taking steps towards achieving those goals. See Interswitch website for more details see: http://www.interswitchng.com/you/index.aspx

This is the theory of design: to achieve a desired end by deliberate planning and action.
Dictionary.com describes design as: adaptation of means to a preconceived end; to assign in thought or intention; purpose; to form or conceive in the mind; contrive, plan; to intend for a definite purpose.

As the nation makes it's plans for the year 2020, Interswitch in collaboration with the 2020visionng team are making deliberate efforts to design a plan for human capital development in Nigeria.The London Design Festival is a magnet for the best of creative genius from around the world. 2020visionng will spotlight the Nigerian and some African designers who are key players on the global platform.

Stay tuned for more interviews and profiles of Nigerian designers in graphics, picture making, fashion and architecture from the London Design Festival on 2020visionng.