Broken or discarded seating furniture forms the basis of designer Yinka Ilori’s current product line, It Started With A Parable. Ilori disassembles objects, processing and restructuring them to form new pieces.
A passionate upcycler ardently opposing the wastefulness in western consumer society, he defends the idea of sustainable design. In his workshops, the designer sometimes shows how a formerly much-loved – in Ilori’s words, “pre-loved” – piece of furniture, now worn or broken, can be repaired and beautified with the simplest of means. Inspired by traditional parables, with which he grew up as the son of a Nigerian immigrant in London, Ilori encourages participants to allow their personal history or fairy tale to flow into the object. Thus he creates powerful pieces, such as the Let There Be Light chair. In an embodiment of the Nigerian parable “Atupa ki niyi loosan” (“A lamp is not valued in the afternoons. There’s always a right time”), wooden bars of different length form the back of the chair, representing hard-working individuals whose time has not yet come. A candle symbolizes an individual who has already gained appreciation for their achievements. According to Ilori, the beauty of upcycling lies in the intellectual challenge of the objet trouvé and in the new ideas that can be generated from it.