London – Yinka Ilori references a beloved childhood memory in a playful installation for the CitizenM Hotel in Shoreditch. Part of London Design Festival 2017, Estate Playground draws upon Ilori’s memories of the public playground from his youth, which the local kids adored despite its shabbiness. He says, ‘I held my playground so high in my heart, you would think all the objects were made out of gold’.
The neighbourhood gathering space of his youth bestowed a sense of belonging on those who frequented it, providing an oasis among the brutalist architecture. It was the setting for more than just games; it was where people would discuss issues, share problems, and connect with each other. Ilori invokes these memories in his colourful installation which contrasts with the public street and the dark façade of the CitizenM Hotel. The vivid playground catches the attention of passersby and LDF visitors, encouraging people to linger, share ideas, and interact indiscriminately as kids do on a playground.
‘Playing together in a public space with people that you don’t even know is magical,’ he says. By placing Estate Playground in a visual space intended for adults, he recreates a piece of childhood for visitors to enjoy the same happiness and inclusive sense of welcome that he enjoyed in the playground of his youth.
CitizenM and Ilori hope the installation will prompt dialogue and be appreciated for its practical, aesthetic, and symbolic qualities. The installation may be an artistic expression imbued with personal and social symbolism, but it can still be used by children under five years of age.
The sentimental concept provides an insight into Ilori, his past, and his belief in the power of inclusivity to spark profound and simple joy. Since studying furniture and product design at London Metropolitan University, he has become known for work which draws on the bright hues and cultural cues of his Nigerian heritage. Each piece carries with it a story, a message he wants to share. The CitizenM installation is exemplary of this abstract form of storytelling, which employs personal experience and spatial language to convey a message of equality and joy.