Meet Oluwatobi Oreoluwa a trained Architect turned Furniture Designer & the Founder of Alaga Collections

By Kemi Mobuse - Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Oluwatobi Oreoluwa’s career can simply be described as an adventure in wood. The desire to make a difference, his fascination with interior designing and the willingness to provide affordable furniture which has a story attached to it was the inspiration behind his brand. He studied architecture in University and when he made up his mind to start out, Design and craftsmanship came naturally to him. 

Oluwatobi Oreoluwa is second to none. ...he produces furniture which is classic and modern at the same time - and represents workmanship at its very best. 

KMB is massively inspired by not only his finished pieces, but also his background as an architect and the way in which he approaches the design process. Made in Nigeria furniture has never looked this unique and beautiful until now. This led us to have a chit chat with him about his passion….Read excerpts from the interview here below….
KMB: Can we know more about the man behind Alaga Collections?

Alaga Collections: My name is Oluwatobi Oreoluwa, I’m the founder &
Creative director of Alága Collections, a trained Architect from the Federal University of Technology, Akure & a storyteller.

KMB: Furniture design and woodworking is not something that most people get in to, what’s your background and how did it become your passion?

Alaga Collections: I’m an architect by training, so I have a great grasp of design & woodwork but it wasn’t just my training that made me get into the furniture path, rather it was borne out of the desire to do something different. I worked as an intern architect in a construction firm back in 2012; the firm often imported furniture from IKEA at cheap rates and made it into a big deal when it got to us here in Nigeria. It didn’t go down well with me. At that time, my solution to this problem was to send mails to IKEA to see if they can open a franchise here that will be run by Nigerians, but I didn’t get a reply so I sat down & wrote down my ideas. In 2016 I went back to these ideas & added storytelling which I’m passionate about, that’s how Alága came into being.

KMB: Why did you choose to create furniture instead of focusing on another type of design? 

Alaga Collections: I think it’s because I’m fascinated with interior design, furniture brings interior spaces alive & it is a subset of shelter which everyone needs to have. My choice is influenced by a mix of the artistic & business prospects of furniture.

KMB: How would you describe the style of your creations?

Alaga Collections: Alága’s style is Contemporary & Afrocentric.

KMB: What goes through your mind when selecting wood to use for your furniture? Do you look for anything specific?

Alaga Collections: We usually start with identifying a need or a story we need to tell, design to this need/story & identify all we need to achieve our design.

KMB: What inspires your work?

Alaga Collections: Haha! Well, culture inspires our work at Alága. Permit me to say ‘we do it for the culture’!

KMB: What has been the most interesting piece of furniture you’ve made?

Alaga Collections: (laughs)… Every piece of furniture we’ve made have their interesting stories, but the Danfo is my favorite so far.

KMB: Why did you want to produce a collection of limited-edition works rather than a produced range?

Alaga Collections: We like to believe our collections are art! We have something in the works for larger production soon; keep your fingers crossed with us.

KMB: What designers have influenced you over the years? Is there a particular era you draw from?

Alaga Collections: Haa! Well, in recent times, it’s been Bruce Mau, A Canadian designer, his design thinking crusade got my heart on lock down. I pick inspiration from different eras & from different environments also.

KMB: I like the fact that you don’t hold back when you build a piece of furniture, there’s quality running all the way through. No expense spared. Do you like this feeling of being able to make whatever you want, under your own terms?

Alaga Collections: Well, it’s never under my terms; it is usually listening to what my customers need & working to please their needs. If I work under my terms, I might as well put all the furniture in my room. Lol!

KMB: No doubt you’ve learnt some lessons over the years, what advice do you have for other individuals that want to get into this field?

Alaga Collections: Whatever you look to become is on the other side of your fear, so beat your fear.

KMB: How will you like to be contacted?

Alaga Collections:-
Instagram: @alagacollections
Twitter: @alaga_ng

KMB: Thank You for your time.

Alaga Collections: Thank you too.

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