The architect and engineer Ifeanyi Oganwu shows me how the sections of birch ply slot together to form a table, then a compact sculpture that we’ll soon be sitting on.
He is responsible for the forty stools and accompanying tables in the 1:54 VIP Art Fair Lounge on which visitors and guests, tired from walking around the various wings of Somerset House, will sit down and look at the view which stretches over the Thames one way and over Zak Ové’s resin and jesmonite sculptured soldiers in the courtyard.
Oganwu was originally approached by the fabric company Toghal to build a structure that would display their fabrics, designed especially for the occasion by artist Phoebe Boswell. He decided on a double-arch structure that would cup two cylindrical cushions:
‘Arches are ubiquitous – you have arches in abandoned urban spaces, repurposed urban spaces. They’re all over our city and they’ve always been there. No-one pays attention to them. They’re ever present but at the same time they’re invisible – no one pays attention to them. It’s a new way of seating.’
The Nigerian-born architect and engineer, who trained at John Ronan Architects in Chicago and Zaha Hadid Architects in London, set up his own studio Expand Design almost a decade ago. One of his pieces has been selected for the Making Africa – A Continent of Contemporary Design blockbuster show at the Vitra Design Museum which also travelled to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. He’ll soon be exhibiting in Zurich and is also working on a jewellery range.