Interview : 1
Grant Gibson [GG]: How has the pandemic effected your practice?
Ini Archibong [IA]: Things have obviously slowed down a bit in terms of production – factories have been closed. From my side, since I work with a lot of craftsmen, my biggest concern is that they’re able to ride it out and get back to work so they can sustain themselves. As a designer we’re a little bit insulated from that sort of thing because we have the ability to work with multiple clients. I think it’s important to remember the people who rely on being in a factory are effected a lot more than I was in my daily life. Other than that I’m a solitary worker. I don’t have a big studio. I work here at home. So it hasn’t really interfered with my process. I guess the biggest difference is that I don’t have to get on a plane as much. So I’ve actually got more work done that I normally would.
GG: What initially piqued your interest in Connected?
IA: I love wood as a material. I guess when I started designing and making with my hands wood was the first material that I worked with – you know taking shop class in school. It has always been a special material to me. Also the fact that so much of how we use wood contributes to sustainability and the health of the planet. So the opportunity to work with the material and find ways to be conscious and aware of the effect that our use of wood is going to have on the planet in 2020 means it’s an important project for me to be part of.
GG: What can we expect from you?
IA: If all goes well, you can expect to see a piece of furniture that somehow has the capacity to transport you to another place – I hope it will take you on a journey spiritually. The goal is to create an opportunity for that to happen.
"how we use wood contributes to sustainability and the health of the planet."
GG: Where are you at with the design currently?
IA: It’s sort of finished. But it’s never finished until it’s finished right? I have the initial part of the design done – the concept and the first 3D model and I’m due to discuss that with the Benchmark team.
GG: What is the concept?
IA: There are many layers. There’s an idea of being connected to the earth, the earth being connected to the stars, and the notion of microcosm and macrocosm. That led me to being inspired by The Giant’s Causeway and its columns of basalt hexagons. The concept is to create a form of language for the base reaching up from the ground to hold the tabletop, which represents the sky. The process has used algorithms to generate natural shapes. I wanted it to look organic and non-repeating.
GG: Can I ask you about your process? Do you draw, for instance?
IA: No I do most of it in my head. Once I have a brief or a concept beginning to form I just consume a lot of stuff related to it – whether it’s books or music or stuff that I notice walking around – until I have a bank of inspiration and all the ideas are floating in the same soup. Then eventually it crystallises into a form or some kind of object in my head. Subsequently I turn it around and look at it from all angles until I understand it. Once that happens I’m usually ready to get on the computer and make the model.
GG: Music is important to you and your process isn’t it? What were you listening to when you were coming up with the idea for this project?
IA: There was a lot of weird stuff. It doesn’t all necessarily relate to each other either. I was listening to things like Quintessence, a mind flurry of sound orgasms from Piano Overlord and the Weather Report. I listen to something from Weather Report in nearly every project I make. Usually there’s a song that’s attached to my concept. I sampled a few of those records and made some stuff while I was having those ideas. It is all a bit intangible. I mix all this stuff up altogether and then I see what comes out.
"Usually there’s a song that’s attached to my concept."
GG: Did the three timbers – the red oak, maple and cherry – effect your design decisions?
IA: Yes and no. At this early stage of the project, the actual decision of which species to use is less important, because the idea is to make the table an assemblage of off cut material because of the modular nature of the concept. It will be a beautiful top, held up by a montage of small sections sourced from offcuts; these otherwise unused pieces are coming together and staying connected in order to be strong enough to hold up the table top. The idea is that they come from different species – it’s a statement about globalisation, humanity and life in the twenty first century.
GG: How would you judge success in a project like this?
IA: I feel successful once it’s finished! Every piece that I make is just potential energy. Cooped up inside every piece is the possibility or opportunity for somebody to become energised in a new way.