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Design Week Lagos, IFI partner on policy education for Africa interior designers, architecture

Design Week Lagos (DWL) and the International Federation of Interior Architects/ Designers (IFI) have partnered to host the African Regional Roundtable on policy education in a bid to achieve standardisation in the industry.

The round table recently held at the Wheatbaker Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos was an interactive hybrid (virtual and physical) event which allowed diverse design community in Africa to discuss the IFI education policy.

The roundtable brought together over 5,000 African designers, including practitioners, academic institutions, educators, professional associations, policy makers, governments and students.

Speaking at the event, Jacqueline Aki, managing partner and CEO of James Cubitt Interiors and an executive on DWL said the platform was birthed to give people the opportunity to showcase what they are able to do and in so doing, to empower them and give them the support that they need to position them on global platforms.

Aki said the African Regional Roundtable section of the event is a partnership between DWL and IFI, adding that Titi Ogufere, who is also the convener and founder of DWL as well as the first black president on IFI through this event is trying to bring Africa to the fore because in the past, Africa had not really participated in the IFI events, decisions or policies.

“As the first black president, Titi Ogufere has been able to pull together all the designers in our industry and put them in the fore to also make decisions in IFI. IFI is like the UN for interior designers. The partnership for today is about policy making.

“We are trying to focus on interior design and interior architecture education. The main focus is on building policies. When there is policy, there is standardisation, there is a framework and that’s what we are trying to bring. Right now in Africa, we cannot say there is a policy that covers us as interior designers. There are no accrediting bodies in Africa, so we are trying to align with what IFI is trying to create in terms of policies to see how we can position ourselves and do better in our industry,” she explained.

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She said Nigeria has the largest number of creatives with diverse creative skill but there is no way to push them out and there is no support for showcasing what their capabilities are.

She also mentioned that there is no standard way of doing things in the industry.

“One of the things I have had to do is to educate my clients on the difference between an interior decorator for example and an interior architect or designer and a vendor. What you have in the industry for example are people who maybe sell paints and they call themselves interior designers. The person’s core strength could just be in selling paints but they dabble into these things without fully understanding it. It then gives a bad name to the interior decorator or interior architect.

“Interior decorator on the other side tells you the colour of the paint or fabric to use but they are not interior designers or architect. Because what interior designers or architects do is that they go into all the technicalities. They understand structures, they understand what health and safety is in design, they understand what the psychology of design is,” Aki explained.

She noted that there are different cadres and people have their different strengths, adding that through the event, they are trying to help people understand those cadres and where their strength is so people can work better together.

As part of the African Regional Roundtable, the Interior Design Professional Guide for Africa and the Middle East was launched.

The book, authored by an interior design expert, Titi Ogufere, is an essential resource and guide to managing and sourcing for interiors projects in the region, with practical guidance, a directory of vendors, and advice from 25 leading interior designers in Africa and the Middle East on how to run an interior project successfully and profitably from start to finish.

Belverence Tameu, a cameroonian architect and product designer based in Italy who participated at the event said the event is very important because it represents African designers.

Tameu said even though she lives in Europe she is totally an African and is participating in the exposition and showcasing one of her furniture which depicts a dual reality between her European growing and her African discovery.

“I was in contact with Titi, the organiser. I totally align with this event and Titi gave me the opportunity to participate. This event aligns with my vision for architectural development. I grew up and studied in Italy but I am open to the fact that the future of architectural design will be here in Africa and I want to be part of it and that’s why I am here,” she said.

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