Yinka Ilori, the designer who brings joy to his projects

The floor is a large pink slab planted with a forest of colorful poles ending in green, yellow and red plastic discs that give them the appearance of large multi-colored lollipops. We are in Berlin, in a sunny park in the Neukölln district. On what was once the parking lot of an industrial zone, a construction that is far too colorful for this part of the city has stood since 2022: a pavilion with free access and as if mounted on stilts, in the middle of which sits a ping-pong table. blue and orange pong, right next to the Estrel hotel.

Maxime Streletzki, owner of the hotel (the largest in Germany), discovered Yinka Ilori’s work on Instagram, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. He made contact with the British artist, and this is how the pavilion was born Filtered Rays. The objective was to create a place filled with optimism and encouraging encounters, an oasis of positivity in the middle of the public space.

Joy seen from the sky

What does a city inhabited by joy look like? This is the question that Yinka Ilori asks. In 2021, he was on the list of New York Times of the “twelve creators who are revolutionizing design”. In the city, his work leaves a trail of multicolored footprints. Literally: on Google Maps, zooming into the right place reveals them as the cameras and satellites recorded them.

Seen from the sky, the red pavilion of Neukölln Park is easy to spot. Just like the geometric patterned bands that make Tottenham Court Road, London, vibrate every 100 meters. Yinka Ilori painted them for the 2021 London Design Festival, a year after being named Best Emerging Artist.

In fact, they have long since been erased by the soles of pedestrians and the wheels of cars, but they still exist on Google Maps – until the next map update. Still in London, a glance at Parsloes Park reveals a sort of colorful mosaic between the lawns. This is where the artist created a playground in 2022.

Ilori himself does not consider his works as playgrounds but rather as sculptures or installations open to the public. All of them invite you to interact with them: you can cross them, sit on them, climb them or play sports on them.

Another universe

The first time Ilori received an order for a real playground was in 2019, in Cannes, and it was a pop-up place for adults. After that, all he was asked for was playgrounds, he recalls. It is for this work that he was decorated with the Order of the British Empire, by the Queen, in 2021.

Ilori lives in the Acton area of ​​west London. This is where his studio is located, surrounded by huge gray walls with dilapidated balconies and glass facades. The people who live in Acton are those who cannot afford to live in the city centre. As is often the case in this type of neighborhood, there is room for creators who set up shop in the middle of filthy garages.

But the grayness evaporates in front of the entrance to Ilori’s studio. On the asphalt, the parking spaces are marked by ovals of all colors, and the building with its white walls stands out among the gray stone buildings. At the entrance, a green sign announces the place we are in front of, and invites us into another universe.

“Color can save us”

Inside, we find Yinka Ilori, 37, sitting on a pink-lacquered wooden chair that is objectively much too small for his six-foot-three frame. Pink is her favorite color. Outside everything is gray, but when he enters his studio, he feels good, explains

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