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Ini Archibong has unveiled his sail-like pavilion at London’s Design Biennale

Architect Ini Archibong’s Pavilion of the African Diaspora is on display at Somerset House in London this month and it’s made from 25-feet of sailcloth.

The temporary structure, which is reminiscent of a huge arching shell, will form the backdrop to talks and performances for the London Design Biennale and is conceived as a place for people from the African diaspora to gather and share stories. Archibong was raised by Nigerian parents in the USA and told the WSJ the piece is inspired by the transatlantic slave route. While the sail is a reminder of this painful one-way journey, it also acting as a visual cue ‘to become a thing that propels us forward,’ says Archibong.

Two huge concrete bases anchor the pavilion, named The Sail, which is illuminated in an ethereal glow at night. It’s on display until 27 June but is part of a trio of works with The Wave and The Shell to follow in New York and Art Basel respectively.

Across the city in Kensington Gardens, the annual Serpentine Pavilion also opens this Friday, designed by Johannesburg-based practice Counterspace. Read more on its triumphant diasporic design.

The Shell will feature at Art Basel in Miami in December 2021. Via DesignbyIchi
The Shell will feature at Art Basel in Miami in December 2021. Render courtesy Design by Ini
The Wave will feature in New York in autumn 2021.
The Wave will feature in New York in autumn 2021. Render courtesy Design by Ini

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