When Professionals gathered for environment, design, art and culture

Lagos was the cynosure of the world a few weeks ago, as architects, professional interior designers, artists and culture enthusiasts converged on Eko Hotel and Suites and Federal Palace Hotel for the 28th International Federation of Interior Architects/Designer Congress and General Assembly.

Held in partnership with Lagos State Government, the Interior Designers Association of Nigeria (IDAN) and African Culture and Design Festival (ACDF), the biennial congress, which held for the first time in Africa since the association was formed in 1963, had experts from different parts of the globe to explore the balance between design, art and culture.

It was divided into two, with International Federation of Interior Architects/Designer Congress and General Assembly and Interior Designers Association of Nigeria (IDAN) at Eko Hotel and Suites, while the African Culture and Design Festival (ACDF) showcased works at Federal Palace Hotel.

IFI president, Sebastiano Raneri, stated that the congress was grounded in the most potent issues affecting the built environment at the regional and global levels and noted that from climate change to mass displacement, population growth and urbanisation, the international community faces a complex set of problems that require professionals to look beyond traditional approaches and perspectives to solve.

According to him, IFI, as a creative entity dedicated to professionalism and international cooperation, offers a strategic approach to problem-solving that closely integrates design and the built environment to preserve global social responsibility. He averred that members of the 54-year old, not-for-profit organisation would, through discussion, generate ideas and opportunities that would inspire participants to develop their work as a tool for economic reasons and have social impact.

To intellectually engage guests, five speakers – Sir David Adjaye, Alfredo Brillembourg, Dr. Lou Yongqi, Dr. Carol Becker and Kunle Adeyemi – presented papers on the sub-themes of the congress. Each speaker brought a distinct set of knowledge and perspectives across the field of architecture, art, design and interior design to shed light on the main theme, ‘World Class Design in Regional Markets: Interior Architecture/Design into the Future.’

While speaking on ‘Defining Design Excellence for Identity Distinction,’ Adjaye chronicled Nigeria’s pre- and post-colonial architectural phases to date. He also had his take on over 50 African countries, where he had toured and offered services, urging them to showcase their landscapes and architecture and as well their creativity to the world.

According to him, “It’s always tough at the beginning of any craft for the people to make headway, but with determination and forward planning, things will work out for good.”He advised interior architect/design professionals to liken their take-off stage to a boat launching from the shore, enjoining them to always focus their craft in the right direction and stay true to the right direction because how one starts off would determine one’s end point.

While welcoming guests to the forum, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, noted that he was leading the vanguard of creating a paradigm shift, noting that his government was redesigning, remodeling and regenerating Lagos City and nothing has the power and the capacity to regenerate the city as much as art.

“Lagos State has a programme called project T.H.E.S.E, which represents Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment and Sports for Excellence, which government is using to drive the economy, create employment and regenerate the environment. By infusing art and design into government strategy, we are gradually building a new city, one in which its open spaces are becoming artistic spaces with both aesthetic and practical value.”

THE second event was the African Culture and Design Festival (ACDF). The four-day event, which ran parallel with the IFI Congress and General Assembly, had ‘This Is Africa’ as theme. Organisers used the platform to celebrate 100 years of African art, design and film.

And to really stay on the African narrative, the section, partitioned into four pavilions – Traditional African Arts, Modern and Contemporary Art, African Design and Video Installation – had different distinct works of African art and creativity displayed, with professionals in the art curating.

Earlier on while opening the forum, Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, had stressed the need for continued efforts to give Nigerian art and design befitting places in the global scene. He commended Interior Designers Association of Nigeria (IDAN) for creating rich, cultural arts that would not only showcase the country’s creativity as a nation to the world, but could also boost employment and earn the country some foreign exchange. He commended the organiser for putting Nigeria in the global spotlight and providing a platform for foreign professionals to mingle with their Nigerian counterparts.

While the President/Founder of IDAN, Titi Ogufere, was curator for the African Design, Bisi Silva handled the Modern and Contemporary Art, Ronke Ashaye curated the Traditional African Art and Azu Nwagbogu took charge of Video Installation. The Traditional African Art pavilion showcased bronze works, headdress, beaded bags, sculpture, masks and doors sourced from the National Museum and the Femi Akinsanya collections. The modern and contemporary Art brought together paintings, photographs, video art, installations and sculptures from some of Africa’s leading artists.

The design pavilion had original pieces of furniture, installations, design object, lighting and textile by upcoming and contemporary designers, while the Video Installation pavilion had vivid video content that showcased Nigeria’s progress in celebrating arts and culture 40 years after the celebration of the Second World Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC ‘77).

While addressing guests, Ogufere stated, “Africa was thrilled with the history-making opportunity to partner IFI in fulfilling its core values, which culminate in ideals such as leading the interior design discipline into the future, furthering public awareness of the influence and impact of interior design, connecting the global interior architecture/design profession and community to identify and provide design solutions to global problems. It aids in establishing and implementing world standards and guidelines for the profession, education and research by establishing and adopting best practices and educating the professionals through actionable programmes, events and publications.”

She observed that IFI has expressed great insight and discernment in recognising how pivotal Africa’s role is with regards to the scheme of things to come design-wise, adding it was why no stone was left unturned towards hosting the 28th IFI Congress/ General Assembly.

According to her, “The big picture, as far as design is concerned, does not just draw from ideas that are traditional, but also shows influences that depict an intercultural undertone. While design is meant to maintain its authentic aesthetics, it is never meant to stand in isolation.“In view of the actualisation of this astonishing picture, which both unifies and flaunts design, art and culture, various people have tirelessly made their input, piece by piece, towards the emergence of one big picture, a very beautiful one,” she said.

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