It is often said that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Designer Yinka Ilori, 29, has taken that to heart with the launch of his thriving self-named business dedicated to refurbishing and styling discarded furniture, known as upcycling.
London-born Yinka specialises in chairs but takes inspiration for the Nigerian roots he gets from his parents.
He was inspired to launch a business after seeing so much waste in London and when visiting West Africa.
Yinka says: “I source from anywhere. I could be on a bus and just see something interesting.
At first I was scrounging round London for bits of furniture. People throw so much away. I see so many chairs around London that I just collect. Often I see a chair and already have a story in mind.
I look in charity shops, eBay and many of my friends will pick up a chair if they see an interesting one.”
This has helped him get the nickname of the chair guy.
He either makes his own designs based on Nigerian parables or provides a made-to-order service, adding: “Every chair tells a story and it is interesting coming up with a narrative.”
His work touches on themes as various as hope, sexuality and social class.
He says: “Furniture travels like people. It tells a story. There is an ongoing narrative behind the chairs."
“It is nice to work with these objects and unravel their narratives while putting my own heritage on it.”
For someone who makes chairs, he has barely sat down since completing his Furniture and Product Design degree at London Metropolitan University in 2009.
A project to design two battered armchairs inspired him to build a business and now he visits trade shows around the world, has his own East London studio and his pieces are available for purchase at The Shop At Bluebird, London and Temple Muse, Nigeria.
Yinka has already built up a following on Instagram and uses word of mouth to spread the word, helping him get featured in major magazines and websites such as the MailOnline.
He says the biggest challenges are finding the same chair if a client sees an old project and wants something similar, but he can’t imagine himself doing anything else.
He adds: “There is a Nigerian parable that says you shouldn’t throw stones as a bird may fly away. If someone has a passion then let them do it. Let people be what they want to be
“It is good to have people you trust around you and people who believe in you.”
It doesn’t sound like Yinka has plans to sit down for a rest any time soon.