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Member Tejumola Butler Adenuga on bringing his ancestral tribe’s heritage to life with sculptural lamps

The artist and Shoreditch House member shares the inspiration behind his foray into furniture design, from connecting with his Nigerian roots to creating a legacy

By Megan Murray

Artist Tejumola Butler Adenuga is among the first to be part of Soho.Home.Studio's Member Market, which showcases the work of established and up-and-coming creatives, and Soho House members.

Adenuga's lamp atelier sits in the venue's entrance space and offers visitors an insight into the process behind his pieces. 'I wanted my lamps to have an organic feel. Their sculptural aesthetic is inspired by places such as Jos Plateau in Nigeria where I grew up, which has huge rock formations,' he describes. 'I think humans have always admired the beauty of nature and mimicked it in the things we build. This is my interpretation.'

His ability to look at life through an artist's lens has also allowed Adenuga to transform the space with a clear vision in mind. 'When I saw the building that Soho.Home.Studio has opened in, I felt a connection to its history as a church,' he explains.

'There is an interesting relationship between religious centres and artists. I like that churches are home to both celestial bodies and craftsmen, whose work has been used to uplift stories for hundreds of years. That's how artists made their living - either producing pieces for religious institutions or the government. I'm celebrating that connection and bringing part of that story back to life.'

Positioned in front of an arched window, the lamp atelier optimises natural light with white interiors, chosen to emphasise the holiness of the building. Adenuga also thought about how the space would look at night, illuminating the display so that it glows.

Adenuga's talent for bringing a concept to life was fine-tuned when, while studying graphic design at university, musician Tinie Tempah head-hunted him as his art director, working across stage design, merchandise, and album cover artwork. Since then, Adenuga's career has spanned fine-art commissions and exhibitions, developing into designing and crafting furniture.

'I'm from the Yoruba tribe, which is traditionally known for its craftsmen and women. I grew up in a small town on a street where everyone is an artisan. Everything we had was handmade by someone we knew, bespoke for us - from the shoes I wore to school to the sofa in our living room, nothing was bought from a store,' he recalls.

Throughout lockdown, Adenuga says he revisited this way of life, contemplating how modern furniture is often replaced every few years instead of being built to last, and the affect this consumerist attitude has on our society.

'In my opinion, advancements in technology and materials mean that today's furniture is flimsier. I'm trying to offer an alternative to that,' he says. 'I want it to feel indestructible - something that you will have forever. I'm inspired by the Bauhaus movement and how pieces made in the 1960s and 1970s are still treasured today.'

'As a creative person, I think it's my responsibility to leave the world a more beautiful place. I see my furniture as a channel of self-expression, like I'm replicating myself in different forms for when I'm gone.'

Find Adenuga live in Soho.Home.Studio from 2pm to 5pm every weekend until the end of October. He'll be creating and selling his Jesmonite Arch Lamps for £350, and taking pre-orders for homeware, including dining chairs and rugs.

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