Sisi Eko Floor Lamp
This design file is a work in progress. We welcome contributions, corrections, and updates. Read Collecting Design (Digitally) at M21D to learn more about our approach to collecting design.
Creators: Lani Adeoye, Studio Lani
Materials: ongoing research
Carbon footprint: ongoing research
Energy: ongoing research
Life-cycle assessment: ongoing research
Production labor: ongoing research
Equality in use and production: ongoing research
Lani Adeoye and Studio Lani
Adeoye’s work as a furniture designer and design consultant merges design and craft, heritage and contemporary contexts. Her curiosity about cultural expressions and the twenty-first century shape her creative production. In Culture Before and After Design, she writes, “I believe the objects we surround ourselves with embody intangible values that reflect what we believe and what we appreciate at that specific time. Having lived in four major cities, Lagos, Montreal, Toronto and New York, I’ve witnessed how the DNA of a community molds its design culture and subsequently its output.”
She’s also motivated by her belief in design as a tool to “solve problems, empower communities, and positively impact our livelihood.” In Design Foundation, she says, “Design as a term in Africa should just be a placeholder. I don’t think it speaks to the totality of our intentions here. Design to me has always seemed very linear ever since I moved back to Nigeria. Here, there is always a sense of renewing, repurposing, reinvention — something interconnected within our consciousness, which feels pre-design. A fullness in our ability to hold so many layers of truths both spiritually and rationally.” Elizabeth Fazzare for Cultured reports her saying, “When designing here one has to be quite adaptive and be willing to explore multiple solutions; it’s a very iterative and immersive process.” As a design consultant, Adeoye has helped conceptualize digital products and user experiences for American tech giants; as a furniture designer, she creates tables, chairs, and light fixtures that mix traditional and new materials to activate reinterpretations of shapes familiar to her heritage.
Adeoye draws on her Yoruba roots, a people group based in what is currently called Nigeria, and varied experiences gained while living across two contents for her eclectic designs. She developed her design practice at Parsons: The New School after a career in IT consulting and a bachelor’s degree in commerce at McGill University. She’s since received awards such as one of Elle Décor’s “75 Global Female Designers Worth Celebrating,” Dwell Magazine’s “Young Guns: New Designers Making Waves," and Wanted Design’s "LaunchPad Furniture Competition" in New York City.
The Sisi Eko Floor Lamp
The Sisi Eko lamp draws on Adeoye’s Yoruba culture, particularly the shape and materials of the West African talking drum, a double-headed, hourglass-shaped drum whose pitch can mimic the tone of human speech, which gives the drum shape its name. It’s a prominent component of celebrations and spiritual events dating back hundreds of years. She tells Alexandra Caufin, “I started to deconstruct the drum. The rope became metal and that metal began to trace the inner hourglass component, taking on the drum’s hidden shape.” Caufin describes the lamp: “It has the visual lightness of a rattan basket and the energetic curves of vines: organic shapes evoking rhythm.”
On the website of Studio Lani, Adeoye’s design and making firm, Lani says that the lamp can also be interpreted as “Lagos Lady,” explaining, “The Sisi Eko lighting fixture celebrates that wondrous contradiction of strength and gentleness. It’s alluring form and double light, creates its unique identity. Exuding timeless elegance and beauty, Sisi Eko adds an intriguing dimension to every environment it graces.”
This and most pieces are manufactured by artisans in her hometown of Lagos, which supports the region’s fabrication traditions and the growing design scene. This manner of design and making “reinforces that design is a tool that adds value, preserves heritage and can be used to positively engage with communities that are maybe on the fringes,” explains Adeoye, who is interested in finding symbiosis between things seemingly disparate, as reported in Cultured.
Adeoye has a series of lamps that play on the shape of the Sisi Eko lamp. She says in Design Lines, “I believe if you have a concept you feel connected to, that concept can work on various scales and in various forms.” You can see the series on Adeoye’s active Instagram.
The Sisi Eko Floor Lamp + M21D
M21D eagerly follows the social life of the Sisi Eko floor lamp, as a manifestation of a specific African heritage, which continues to be overlooked by markets, buyers, and tastemakers in North America and Europe. Adeoye writes that “Studio-Lani is on a journey to redefine heritage whilst creating pieces today for your tomorrow. We hope to support her work by celebrating its community focus and potential accessibility."