By Hannah Martin
It all started with a table leg. “I was sanding the form, preparing to cast it in aluminum, and felt totally connected with my creative side,” recalls Ini Archibong of his eureka moment as a student at Pasadena’s ArtCenter College of Design. “I was outside the computer, shaping something myself.”
Now based in Switzerland, the Nigerian-American designer continues to apply his hand to sculptural creations, among them a stirrup-shaped watch for Hermès and assorted furniture collections. Three years ago, his work caught the eye of Pavlo Schtakleff, cofounder of the furniture company Sé, then on the hunt for fresh talent. “We sent him a brief, and what he sent back was exactly right,” says Schtakleff, who has been collaborating with Archibong ever since.
Their latest pieces—curvy, unconventional designs that feel both luxurious and livable—debuted during Milan’s Salone del Mobile. Blown-glass globes form striking chandeliers and floor lamps; jewel-hued velvets sheathe rotund sofas; and hewn wood appears as pebble-shaped tables and high-back seats. Says Archibong, “Everything feels more grounded, more lasting, less likely to float away.”
Unsurprisingly, he has gained plenty of admirers, like Marc Benda, who has commissioned pieces for both his gallery, Friedman Benda, and home. “I want him to go outside his comfort zone,” the dealer reflects. Archibong is game: “I’m trying not to make everything so pretty.”