CONNECTION WITH… Lucy Agwunobi, co-founder of Arredo by TRT

We take a look at the African continent from Connections by Finsa. Specifically, to Nigeria, by Lucy Agwunobi, architect and co-founder of one of the most important studios in the country: Arredo by TRT, created in 2010.

How would you describe the state of art in Nigeria regarding interior design and architecture?

Nigeria has a culturally diverse people and culture and this is celebrated in the design community. In both small and big cities people express their way of life through design. From eccentric forms and colours to clean modern shapes, designers draw inspiration from all over the world.


What are the most sought-after trends in Africa?

There is definitely a trend of modern contemporary design that is influenced by international styles.


What are your preferred materials and what is the market demand?

In the construction sector, concrete blocks and steel or iron bars predominate. In the joinery sector, MFC/MDF boards are widely used and in high demand.

Are there differences in design between Africa and Europe, or do you think that today we could talk about more global trends?

There is not much difference between African and European design, contrary to media images. African design is not limited to Ankara prints, wood carvings and bright colors. Design is created for utility, self-expression and aesthetics, and that can mean different things to different people, regardless of their background.


What are the core values of TRT Arredo?

Our core values at TRT Arredo are excellence, innovation and respect for our culture, our craft and our clients.


What is the best project you have developed at TRT Arredo?

One of my favorite projects was our first participation in the Made by design exhibition. The team came together in a very short time and put together a display that represented who we are as a brand. The use of materials, the flexibility in design and the versatility of all the elements of the layout were really excellent.


How do you find inspiration?

We draw inspiration from travel, photography, art, and most importantly new ideas that are often the result of our desire to solve real problems for our clients. Our goal is to create timeless work that motivates a world of possibilities.

Can you tell us who are your favorite interior designers or architectural firms in Africa?

I love the work of Arc Jumoke Adenowo, Francis Kere, Studio Lani and Studio Emodi.


What are the main challenges to consider in Africa in terms of interior design and architecture?

One of our major problems lies in our high importation of goods and the breakdown of the manufacturing sector. Nigeria exports raw materials and imports finished goods. We are not short of natural resources and skills; a lot of work needs to be done to revive industries. We would then have the capacity to influence design from an imaginative and original point of view.


How is sustainability being addressed in Africa?

Africa has not made significant progress in achieving sustainable goals in energy, water, sanitation and agriculture development. African governments would need to prioritize the development of industry and manufacturing to see measurable progress in their economic and sustainability goals in the near future.