Yinka Shonibare and India Mahdavi bring “warm feel of Africa” to Sketch


British Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare and architect India Mahdavi have redesigned the London venue, Sketch Gallery Dining Room, with site-specific artwork, warm golden colors and textured materials. Added to the interior.

The latest in a series of artist collaborations with sketches, this project features a series of 15 artworks by Shonibare called Modern Magic. These are specially designed for space.

The gallery of sketches is now covered in warm yellow shades

Mahadavi has incorporated sunshine yellow and gold colors into the interior, along with textured materials informed by Shonibare’s installation, including copper skins on one of the walls.

“Yinka’s artwork was a real inspiration and invited me to work another way,” Mahdavi told Dezeen. “Textures transcend color by using a palette of powerful materials.”

“I used elements that extended the artistic quest for Inca culture and identity and made it possible to bring a warm African atmosphere to space and furniture.”

Shonibare artwork details on the wall
Yinka Shonibare’s work decorates the wall

Mahdavi was also responsible for the color selection that previously dominated the interior of Sketch’s Gallery. This is a pale pink shade that has become Instagram’s favorite and has remained in the room for eight years.

“Gallery at Sketch has long been linked to pink, so it was very difficult for me to overcome this success,” she said.

This time, Mahdavi aimed to change the focus from color alone.

“I didn’t want everyone to ask me what the new colors of the gallery were, so I really worked on the textures and materials that made me feel the richness of Africa,” she explained. “Warmth is a new color for Sketch.”

Sketch wall artwork
Designer India Mahdavi used different textures for the interior

Shonibare’s modern magic installation includes five hand-carved wooden masks and ten framed quilts, replicas of African masks collected by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso.

“Picasso was interested in diversion from other cultures, and I was also interested in diversion from European folk art,” Shonibare explained.

“Cultural appropriation can be a two-way path,” he added. “This collaboration with Sketch gave me the opportunity to expand my creative process. It created a different environment for me to meet and experience my art in a fun and relaxing environment.”

Tactile material for galleries and sketches
The work was designed specifically for space

The artwork is complemented by tactile furniture and accessories designed for the gallery.

“I chose yellow cloth and leather to cover the chaise lounge,” Mahdavi said. “It’s the color of the sun and happiness.”

“The subtle shades of yellow vary from piece to piece with different patterns of woven raffia, selected from the collection of Aissa Dione fabrics and specially woven for the project in Senegal.”

“The walls are covered with metal copper paper by De Gournay to radiate the room, and the lighting on the walls is made of Ghanaian wicker by artist Inès Bressand,” she continued.

“It was my way to help the Incas take over the room without interfering with his work.”

Sketch, copper wall in London
Copper wall reflects light

Mahdavi believes that the new Sketch interior is better suited to the post-covid world.

“The pink gallery of sketches lasted eight years instead of the originally planned two years,” she said.

“I really believe that the pink room was from a pre-Covid era,” Mahadabi added. “It was fun, feminine, and had some brightness. Sketch’s new gallery is deeper and the textures imply a sense of unity.”

Sketch gallery room overview
“Textures transcend color,” Mahdavi said of the design.

Sketch’s latest artist collaboration was with British artist David Shrigley. His black-and-white drawings stand out against the pale pink color of the gallery and were also adorned in the ceramic collection.

Mahdavi, one of the judges for this year’s Dezeen Awards and interior design judge, was one of a group of designers who recently reinterpreted Dior’s medallion chair from Salone del Mobile.

Among Shonibare’s recent works is a set of bespoke stamps designed to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy.

The photo is by Edmund Dobney.


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