EmekaTalks

The World. Life. Be Inspired

Meet Kachi Irondi: An exceptional Nigerian ceramics designer pushing the boundaries of innovation

SONY DSC

Kachi

Design is all around us, in our homes, in buildings, architecture, movies, products, television, and much more. The world could not function without designers and artists. Think about it; but for designers everything would probably be plain boring, without imagination or inspiration. In this part of the world you don’t come across full time ceramics designers very often, and when you eventually do, your curiosity span shoots up, as you are unsettled until you appreciate their work and gain as much insights about how they make it happen. I got a chance to interview Kachi; a remarkable young lady whose expression through art is thoroughly adorable and inspiring.

Kachi’s signature design, Sekho is named after an inspirational motif meaning spider web, an aesthetic of carved repetitive patterns and perforated interlocking bricks for walls, interior elements and external spaces, generated using a rich mix of ceramic traditions, historic methods of hand making bricks and traditional functional details. She is soft spoken, articulate and her obsession for ceramics design doesn’t go unnoticed. She’s keen on opening up Africa to the world through design and also preserving our fading African cultures and traditions.

Sit. Relax… And enjoy our warm conversation with Kachi.

Who is Kachi and what does she do?

My name is Kachi Irondi, and I am a Nigerian ceramics designer. I got into ceramics design in the 2nd year of my BA at the University of Worcester where I studied arts and design – but I have always been into arts since I can remember. I actually started off making clay pots out of coil and also experimented a bit with other things but then I just felt I needed something more to challenge me, so during research I came across carvings and ceramics which was when I decided to go down that route. This is because I’ve always been interested in African patterns and the different ways it could be applied in different contexts, and that was how I started carving African patterns into ceramic forms. I enjoyed making my initial few pieces but I wanted to focus a lot more on ceramic designs which was why I chose to do my Masters in Ceramics Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. I wanted that transition from being just a designer to becoming a ceramics designer and actually make a living off ceramic design.

5.5

Where and where were you born?

I was born in Lagos Nigeria, in 1992.

What inspires and motivates you?

Growing up in Lagos, I was naturally surrounded by African patterns, culture and traditions so it was almost automatic that I began using those cultures when I got into school because I was curious to see other ways cultures and traditions can be applied to design using African cultures and patterns. I did not want to see our culture die down and I wanted to see how those cherished cultures and traditions could be applied to design. The ceramics industry in Nigeria is dying (In fact it’s in a horrible state )…but I’m hopeful that would change in the next few years I am looking to help contribute to its revival through my work.

What is there to gain by making ceramics?

One of the economic gains is the fact that we have abundance of raw material here in Nigeria, yet we still have huge importation – just like in other sectors like agriculture. It’s really sad because here we have people with the skills, the education and the motivation. If we can reduce importation, then a lot can be done and contributed by indigenous designers.

Why are you so passionate about Ceramics design?

Ceramics is just it for me – there’s a lot of innovation that can come out of it. I have tried a lot of other different things like photography but i have come to find self-expression through ceramic design. I have continuously researched ceramics here in Nigeria and other countries as well and I was amazed to find how much further these other countries have gone in ceramics design. They use clay in making bricks that embellish various architectural structures in their countries, but that isn’t so here. In Nigeria we use cement a lot but I think a lot can be done using bricks. When people think about clay here they think old school, they think about the village or some experimental exercise. People need to let their minds drift and think deeply about different ways bricks can be used here in Nigeria and that is exactly what I’m here to push.

SONY DSC

Kachi at work

Are there other members of your family who are also artists?

Yes, one of my brothers design as well – but I am the only one practicing in the family.

What obstacles do you face in making and exhibiting your work?

For me, the plan is to eventually open a brick factory in Nigeria that would create different architectural features and elements using diverse materials. So a major obstacle is raising funds to set this up. In terms of galleries and making one off pieces, the culture here isn’t so contemporary. For example, some of the people who purchase these designs just look at the size and put a price to it, completely playing down on the amount of work, time and creativity put into making that piece. That is another obstacle for me, so I think we need to become more contemporary and begin to appreciate art more. I’m happy to see that changing now and I’m hopeful the story will be different in the next couple of years.

 When you are not making ceramic designs, what other things do you do?

Asides from making designs, I’m also into food. And I’m looking at investing in that sometime in the future. But for now, I’m focusing on my work.

Tell us about your breathtaking signature piece, Sekho?

I was inspired by African patterns from different parts of Africa, elements that make architecture special, clay and what I would get by combining all three. It’s a motif that means spider web and an aesthetic of carved patterns and perforated interlocking bricks for walls, interior elements and external spaces; generated using a rich mix of ceramic traditions, historic methods of hand making bricks, different styles of architecture and traditional functional details.

Its functionalities is that of past buildings, architecture of the past, simplified and con-temporized. In terms of functionality, I perforated the bricks for natural ventilation. The reason for this is that I was thinking of hot countries like Nigeria that do not have constant electricity, so it’s really good for us to have natural ventilation in buildings. It can be used in homes, hotels, restaurants etc. Different personal experiences inspired me to look into these different functionalities like natural ventilation. In the Aesthetics, I looked into patterns beyond just Nigeria but other parts of Africa like South Africa and Morocco. This particular design was inspired by a hand painted design I found on a building in Lesotho in Southern Africa and I felt there was a lot more I could do with that. And I also liked the contrasting colours on the buildings and that inspired the colours that i have on the bricks. So you’d see a lot of yellow, blue and other contrasting colours. I named it Sekho to invite the world to experience different African cultures especially to dispel clichés and various misconceptions people have of Africa about Africa. People in other parts of the world think of  Africa as a country and not a continent, some of them don’t even know of countries like Lesotho…So when people see these designs they will ask questions, when they ask questions, names of countries/places come in, then meaning comes in and then these same people would want to push further and learn more about these African countries.

What are you working on now and what are your plans for the future?

I’m working to raise funds to set up the ceramics factory I talked about earlier. I am also designing as well, and I am keen on Improving my designs to see if other elements can come into Sekho and also pushing my work as much as I can to establish myself fully as a ceramics designer.

What advice do you have for upcoming designers and designers looking to establish themselves?

They shouldn’t be afraid of how far their work can go and they shouldn’t listen to people who would constantly tell them it will never work in Nigeria. I got a lot of that myself, I even met a British man who works in a Nigerian telecoms firm who said to me that the ideas are great but would not work in Nigeria. I said to him that that is the kind of mentality that will stop Nigeria from developing. You can’t keep on saying to people that it would never work, they have to keep pushing until it comes true. My advice is; even if your ideas are insane, keep pushing because you can never tell how far your ideas can go.

 What is your favourite colour?
{Laughs} I don’t really have a favourite colour. I like contrasting and playing with colours; but well for this year it’s blue. I have been very much into blue, but that can change at any time.

What’s an interesting fact about you?

{Laughs}That’s a lot of question. Ermm I actually loove cooking. So if I wasn’t into art, i will definitely be into  something that has to do with FOOD. {Smiles}

Final words…?

For artist coming up, they should fight to follow their passion if they’re interested in arts & design and not always go down the traditional route of so-called  ‘professional courses’. Don’t be afraid to do what you want to do. And again as a country, we are doing great in terms of embracing art but I think we can always do more to become more contemporary. The truth remains that design is an integral part of living.

 How can you be reached online?

My work can always be viewed at any time on my website or my Instagram page.

 Thank you for your time Kachi

Thank you so much for having me!

 

 

 

What do you think about art and design? Share your thoughts!

Tags:

POST A COMMENT


10 Responses

  1. ceramic design says

    Register your Company here – http://www.ceramicdirectory.com

  2. Monale A (The Versatile Nigerian) says

    Wow! Those designs are really beautiful! Great interview and very inspiring story.

  3. precious kc George says

    oh mine. Emeka that was a wonderful interview. she sure is a go-getter who seizes opportunities as they come. love the zeal. thanks for sharing this with us.
    much love, George.

  4. Rachel says

    Hey Emeka,

    What a great interview with Kachi. She sounds very inspiring. And I love that go getter attitude, that won’t give up in the face of adversity. Artists really have to believe in their work and never give up, not matter what. What happens is Kachi gets the opportunity to get her factory. Gee I hope she does.

    Her thoughts on design are well above my head. But reading what she had to say bought her knowledge and passion forward. Really enjoyed the interview.

    Rachel.

  5. Erika Mohssen-Beyk says

    Hi Emeka ,
    I saw your comment on Sonal Talwars blog
    and I was curious about the Ceramics.
    I see Kachi is doing wonderful designs
    and I love her attitude, she is on the
    right path. Do not let anybody talk you
    out of your dream, Kachi :)
    I like that you want to keep the
    beautiful knowledge about traditional
    work and craft. This is in danger not only
    in your county, good to help keeping it alive.
    I wish you all the best,keep doing your
    beautiful work.
    Erika

  6. Ikechi says

    Hi Emeka

    It is awesome to know Kachi and her awesome work.

    Thanks for sharing. Take Care

  7. Chika says

    Nice one Emeka! I just love seeing fellow creative minds…

    Well done Kachi! Keep up the good work.

  8. Airry says

    Hello Emeka,

    This is beautiful! Thumbs up Kachi.
    I think one of the limitations to this industry is that it is quite pricey.

    Asides that, ceramics have a way of giving a classy touch to your interiors.

    Nice one Kachi and Emeka…

  9. Obinna says

    Nice one, she is doing it in a very unique way. Can’t imagine a cool home with out art works! Keep it up!

  10. Ruth says

    Hello Emeka,
    This is awesome. I love people with creative minds especially, if they are women. No biases, 😀😀😀
    Her work is truly brilliant and big thanks to you for showing it to us.
    Loved the introduction of the interview. #learning
    Cheers.
    Ruth

%d bloggers like this: