Monday 9 July 2012

Old challenge in new skin

Organised by Interior Designers Association of Nigeria (IDAN), a recent show at Omenka Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos, to mark World Interiors Day, art, craft and other areas of visual arts categorised as accessories in design exposed the economic paradox of Nigeria, where majority live in extreme poverty amidst vast riches of the country.

From paintings, miniature figural and abstract table pieces to ceramics and other works that either serve both decorative and functional purposes such as window blinds and mirrors, the show depict that even in the period of distress, luxury could be an elixir.

The show also offered an opportunity to appreciate the contribution of interior designers to the creative industry, especially in the areas of crafts and arts.
One of the works from IDAN
What exactly is World Interiors Day all about? As IDAN president, Anslem Tabansi explained, it’s a yearly global event initiated by the International Federation of Interior Architecture/Designers (IFI) to bring to the public the roles of practitioners in improving the environment.

Stressing the importance of artistic, clean and luxurious environment, courtesy of IDAN is not new. In 2008, when the group made its first public appearance, with a show tagged Focus On Interior Design at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, the aim was to bring practitioners together and regulate the practice of profession in the country. At that event, IDAN also showed that it was already recognised at the global level as the president of IFI, Mr. Shrikant Nivasarkar was present.
FOUR years after, IDAN, having consolidated on that feat, chose Finding The New In The Old as theme for its 2012 show.
Tabansi states, “the theme challenges practitioners to look at our past as we prepare for the future.”

Indeed, the theme is more relevant in Nigeria, particularly in the corporate sector and highbrow private residence, which have zero local or native content in the designs of office and residential interiors as well as tour destinations such as hotels.
SOME countries have certain aspects of their cultural heritage built into their interior designs. Is this not an indictment on IDAN members, most of whom have the chunk of their clients in the upper class and the corporate sector? Tabansi says, “designers would hardly force any style on anyone, as styles depend on one’s taste.” He explains, “we have people that prefer contemporary and those who go for neo-contemporary styles; it’s about one’s choice.” 

He also notes that one of the challenges designers face is that most of the materials used in the country are imported. This, he says, hinders putting concept of cultural value into their designs.
As professionalising designing through public enlightenment remains a challenge, the secretary general of IDAN, Titi Ogunfere, believes that with seminars and relevant forums, such as Industry Night, which IDAN looks forward to organising regularly, the public will get to appreciate the importance of a descent environment. She argues that interior design is not just everybody’s business, adding that no tertiary institution in Nigeria offers it as a course. 
Secretary-General of IDAN, Titi Ogunfere
 SOME of the objectives if IDAN mentioned in the group’s priority list include maintaining the highest professional and ethical standards of the profession through the education and training of practitioners; establish a training institute to deliver high-value business tools and address issues that affect practitioners; promote excellence in interior design through continuing professional development of practitioners; increase public awareness and promote the relevance of professionals in building the economic and cultural wealth of the Nigerian society.

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