Born at SaloneSatellite
17 June 2019
Ini Achibong (1983) is the son of Nigerian immigrants to the United States, he was born and raised in Pasadena, California. He currently lives and works in Neuchatel, Switzerland. His work is characterised by a deep interest in master-craftsmanship and its intrinsic relationship to technology – both modern and ancient.
Your design reveals you as both an artist and a designer. Do you agree this description?
Everything I do comes from a place of creative expression. I try not to put a table on what I do, because what I do changes everyday. The one thing that is common is the act of creative expression. I tend to think of myself as a creator. What I create depends on what I wish to express.
You affirm: “My work respects and acknowledges the rich cultural traditions from which I come and have esperienced”. You living between the US, Singapore and Switzerland, in which manner you combine these different contexts in your design?
When done well, I believe that whatever we design or create is a glimpse into our current perspective. This perspective is made up of the collection of experiences we have had up to that moment. In this sense, I carry with me all the cultures, climates, and experiences from these various contexts. I think this somehow allows me to more clearly express ideas in a way that is informed by my time spent learning how to navigate different cultural contexts.
You are also freelancing for La Montre Hermès. What is your approach to the watch’s design?
I approach all design in the same way. I try to find the core connection between myself and who/what i am designing for. When designing for Hermès, I feel a strong connection to the ethos of quality, craft, exceptionality, and playfulness that runs through the luxury house’s DNA. Taking on a watch design in this scenario meant thinking about all of those things and how they apply to the creation of a mechanical piece of jewelry which one wears close to the body for long periods of time. Then there is also the intangible….
How you would describe the luxury market? What stimulation does it offer you?
One of the things that intrigued me about working in the luxury market is the fact that it is one of the few remaining industries where the perceived “inefficiency” of making objects by hand is not seen as a deterrent but rather as an opportunity to create the special things which some might find impractical. Within luxury, the way that an object makes you feel is as much an indicator of value as its functional capabilities. This stimulates me because it generally means that the people who interact with my creations have already opened themselves up to an opportunity for discovery. There are few other realms open to an industrial designer where this will be the case. Often the objects which we design are viewed purely through functional and commercial lenses. For me, designing for the luxury market allows for me to have a more nuanced conversation with the consumer.
Can you talk about your platforms to help young designers establish themselves in the industry?
This is still in the works.
Why you have chosen the SaloneSatellite for your international debut?
SaloneSatellite is known to be the launching grounds for the careers of those who want to be known on the international design stage. I first learned about it through my furniture teacher Cory Grosser, who is a SaloneSatellite Alum. He stressed how important it was to be able to present works to a wide international audience which also includes the top brands from around the world. After meeting Marva Griffin in NYC, and receiving further encouragement from her over the years, I knew that when the time came for me to begin my career, that I needed it to begin with SaloneSatellite. I am proud that I was able to make my international debut in 2016 at SaloneSatellite, and I am forever grateful that I was able to make it happen through the support of my friend, Terry Crews.
Your dream to one day become an international designer come true. Now what is your next dream?
To design a temple.
Opening. In apertura: Photo by Eeva Sultari