Yinka Shonibare and India Mahdavi bring "a warm feel of Africa" to London restaurant Sketch
British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare and architect India Mahdavi have redesigned the Gallery dining room at London venue Sketch, adding site-specific artworks, warm golden colours and textured materials to its interior.
The project, which is the latest in a string of artist collaborations from Sketch, features a series of 15 artworks by Shonibare dubbed Modern Magic. These were designed specifically for the space.
Mahdavi incorporated sunshine-yellow and golden colours to the interior alongside textured materials informed by Shonibare's installation, including a copper skin on one of the walls.
"Yinka's artwork was a real inspiration and enticed me to work differently," Mahdavi told Dezeen. "Textures have transcended colours by using a strong palette of materials."
"I used elements that have allowed me to extend Yinka's artistic exploration of culture and identity, and bring a warm feel of Africa to the space and furnishings."
Mahdavi was also responsible for choosing the colour that previously dominated the interior of Sketch's Gallery – a pale pink hue that became an Instagram favourite and remained in the room for eight years.
"The Gallery at Sketch has been linked to the colour pink for such a long time that it was very challenging for me to overcome this success," she said.
This time, Mahdavi aimed to change the focus away from just the colour.
"I didn't want everybody to ask me what the new colour at the gallery is and therefore, I really worked on textures and materials that are evocative of the richness of Africa," she explained. "Warmth is the new colour at Sketch."
Shonibare's Modern Magic installation includes five hand-carved wooden masks as well as 10 framed quilts, which replicate African masks collected by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso.
"Picasso was interested in appropriating from another culture and I also appropriate from European ethnic art," Shonibare explained.
"Cultural appropriation can be a two-way street," he added. "This collaboration with Sketch has given me an opportunity to expand my creative process – creating a different environment to encounter and experience my art in a fun and relaxing setting."
The artworks are complemented by tactile furniture pieces and accessories designed for the Gallery.
"I chose yellow fabrics and leather to cover the banquettes," Mahdavi said. "It is the colour of sun and happiness."
"The subtle shades of yellow vary from one piece to another carrying different patterns of weaved raffia, which were chosen within Aissa Dione's collection of fabrics and specially woven for the project in Senegal."
"The walls are covered in metallic copper paper by De Gournay to radiate the room and the wall lights are made in Ghanaian wicker by artist Inès Bressand," she continued.
"It was my way of helping Yinka take over the room without interfering with his work."
Mahdavi believes the new Sketch interior is more suitable for a post-Covid world.
"The pink Gallery at Sketch lasted eight years instead of the two years initially planned," she said.
"I really believe that the pink room belonged to the pre-Covid era," Mahdavi added. "It was fun, feminine and there was a certain lightness to it. The new Gallery at Sketch has more depth, the textures imply the feeling of togetherness."
Sketch's most recent artist collaboration was with UK artist David Shrigley, whose black-and-white drawings stood out against the pale pink colour of the Gallery and were also emblazoned on a collection of ceramics.
Mahdavi, who is one of this year's Dezeen Awards judges and will sit on the interiors design jury, was recently among a group of designers who reinterpreted Dior's Medallion Chair at Salone del Mobile.
Among Shonibare's recent work is a set of bespoke stamps designed for the Royal Academy's 250th anniversary.
The photography is by Edmund Dabney.