S3 Ep 3 Showcasing Creative Heritage Through a Contemporary Lens with Lani Adeoye

In this episode, I chat with award-winning sculptural lighting and product designer and design strategist. Lani is the founder of Studio Lani. For Lani coming to design was a very organic process one which saw her leaving behind a career as a management consultant. At the time she was living and working in Canada, and a redesign of the offices where she was working opened her up to the possibilities of design to transform the way we interact with spaces. She started attending local design shows to learn more about the industry and soon left Canada for the US to study interior architecture.

It was during her course that Lani began to explore furniture design with the encouragement of her tutors, began to develop her ideas eventually showcasing a product at International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York. Positive feedback led her to take product design seriously and resulting in the launch of her business Studio Lani. During the early days, she was juggling a full-time job and a business and admits it was tough having to find the time to do everything. Added to this was the fact that Lani went straight in at the deep-end using tradeshows to build awareness and her confidence.

Design has become a way for Lani to connect her culture, and to explore her heritage through a contemporary lens. Design has helped her to challenge the perceptions of African design, to show another side, and to show that African design is diverse. Lani works with different artisans, different communities, and uses metal, wood, and woven materials to produce her collections. Her designs involve working with artisans in Nigeria, her country of heritage, and where she had spent some of her childhood. So to develop her designs further she made the decision to move and base her studio there. Lani talks of the challenges of producing in Nigeria, but also the possibilities and the need to be able to adapt to get things done.

I look at design in some ways as being a mediator between heritage and tradition and our contemporary world – Lani Adeoye, Studio Lani

Before she became a designer Lani speaks of how she did not know that this was a thing someone could do as a career. It was never something she was made aware of when growing up, and she highlights the importance of nurturing creativity in children. Getting them to cultivate a design-thinking mindset to make things better in finding solutions for the problems they encounter when interacting and using products and spaces.

I had all these sketches and stuff… but I was not taking it seriously. I didn’t grow up with this mentality of I want to be a furniture designer. I did not know it was a thing. I didn’t even know it existed. – Lani Adeoye

A career in design has enabled Lani to share her culture and heritage with the world and to contribute to Nigeria’s dynamic design scene. And her advice for would-be designers is to stay true to what you believe, but be open to evolve.

We talk about:
  • How her interest in design developed organically and going from a corporate non-creative role to studying design and founding her business
  • Visiting design shows before she started to see what was out there and learn about design
  • Having the confidence to put yourself out there
  • Transitioning from working a full-time day job to freelancing to running her business full-time
  • Moving to Nigeria to bring her closer to the artisans she works with
  • Juggling the different roles that come with owning your own business
  • How long it takes to bring a collection from concept to finished design
  • Harnessing creative thinking to overcome challenges and find solutions that can bring her designs to life
  • Showcasing heritage through contemporary lenses
  • Staying true to what you believe, but being open to evolve
  • Nurturing creativity in young children
Links and resources mentioned in this episode

Interior Design Show Toronto

International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF)



Wanted Design

Architectural Digest

Elle Decor International Women of Design

Simon Sinek book Start With Why

Where you can go to find out more about Studio Lani:



You can listen to the podcast on iTunes (iOS) and Stitcher (Android)

And before you go I have a favour to ask, if you could take a few minutes to do the three R’s that is: rate it, review it, and recommend it to anyone you feel would benefit. It will really make a difference and I would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks again.


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