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When Ini Archibong appeared on the cover of our Fall 2019 issue, writer Jorge S. Arango noted that the Switzerland-based designer was bringing beauty back into the design lexicon. If his first-ever solo exhibition is any indication, he’s delivering on that promise. Archibong views his practice as an outlet to reflect on his own experiences, combining lifelong interests in culture, mathematics, philosophy, mythology, and religion, particularly his Nigerian ancestry. They often manifest in dualities—past and future, personal and collective, opacity and transparency, intangible and physical—that Archibong describes as “hierophanous.”
Each object is charged with spirituality, energy, and unseen forces. The Shade Table marks a foray into obsidian—a material believed to absorb negative energy. The steel-and-glass Dark Vernus (2021) chandelier, meanwhile, is a moodier iteration of a lustrous piece recently acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a forthcoming Afrofuturist period room. “I’m pleasantly surprised when I see a new material or a material used in a new way that makes me feel something I’ve been trying to capture,” he says. “The stories are already latent in the back of my mind, but then there are the poignant moments of those stories that I’m on the lookout to illustrate. A new material means being able to tell a story I haven’t told before.”
Manna Chandelier (2021) and Shade Table (2019) by Ini Archibong. Photography by Andreas Zimmermann.