Luxury fashion brand MCM and British-Nigerian artist Yinka Ilori collaborated in an exciting partnership celebrating culture, craft, and creativity. The collaboration debuted at the MCM HAUS flagship store in Seoul, in an exhibition displaying chairs to tell a narrative of “EMPATHY & COEXISTENCE.”
Ilori is known for his colorful, bold, playful designs that transform functional furniture into sacred pieces of art. His designs are able to speak to his cultural heritage as well as connect people across time, with chairs representing both the past and a vision of the future.
The collaboration with MCM used recycled chairs, in a 10-piece assortment, which are a part of MCM’s ‘Upcycling Project.’ The brand’s commitment to eco-conscious creativity is shown by repurposing the chairs with surplus MCM fabric, to reduce waste. The fabrics are fun, with vivid and eccentric color palettes, and distinct, silhouettes, presenting how everyday objects can be transformed into beautiful works of art.
Sabine Brunner, President of MCM AG, comments, “Our collaboration with Yinka Ilori is more than an art exhibit; it’s a narrative of shared stories, values, and the transformative power of perspective.”
The second part of the exhibition is a 10-piece collection of chairs, titled “Looking At Me” which reflects different stages of Yinka Ilori’s life. The first six chairs embody memories of growing up in London as a British Nigerian and exploring his heritage, culture, and family identity, whilst his four new chairs are from a new collection titled ‘All of Us.’ The new chairs are more expressive, and echo Ilori’s coming of age as an artist and finding himself as a designer.
Ilori states, “Complementing each artwork is a kaleidoscope, enticing visitors into a dance of colors and patterns. It’s an invitation to delve deeper, to discover the beauty beneath the overt, signifying an unending cycle of growth, balance, and rejuvenation.”
GLITCH TOP 5 From: ‘There is Good in All of Us’:
CHAIR 1: Transparency / ’Akoyawo’
This chair references Ilori’s mother – upholstered in MCM textiles in pink and grey, it symbolizes the experiences of migration faced by his parents. The chair features a central cut which exposes the rough timber from within the chair overlaid with resin. It invites viewers to see not only the chair’s beauty but also the hidden pain within, echoing the struggles of his parents when they first came to London, confronting racism and adversity.
CHAIR 2: Paint Me A Picture / ‘Ya Mi Awonan Kan’
Yinka Ilori’s London upbringing was deeply influenced by his parents’ narratives of their Nigerian home. Over the years, he brought these stories together to recreate a visual representation of his ancestral home. This chair, featuring vibrant frames at its base, pays tribute to Ilori’s childhood memories and the process of reconstructing a visual image of Nigeria from these tales.
CHAIR 3: Big Shoes To Fill / ‘Bata Nla Lati Kun’
Draped in cognac MCM fabric, this chair explores the profound weight of ancestral expectations, particularly those thrust on males within a family. It
serves as a powerful symbol of the artist’s enduring journey to carry forward the family name, with each leg of the chair representing the roles of grandparents, siblings, and cousins in this enduring legacy.
CHAIR 4: Pint of Reflection / ‘Ojjami Ti Itana’
This chair explores Ilori’s parent’s journey and subsequently his own journey and symbolises his self-discovery, reflection, and pride in his cultural heritage and as a black British man. It incorporates a metaphorical mirror and well as has a unique form whereby the chair mirrors itself, inviting viewers to reflect on their own stories.
CHAIR 5: My Son Doesn’t Belong Here / ’Omo Mi Ko Wa Nibi’
The backrest of this chair is deliberately displaced to the front of the seat, echoing a moment in the artist’s childhood when his father fiercely advocated for his potential. It’s a poignant reminder of the parental love and confidence that can shape a child’s future.
Written by Amber Weir from GLITCH Magazine