Bukola Bimbo-Obafunwa is an Up-cycled Furniture Designer. She runs Vo3 Designs, a company that helps clients furnish their indoor and outdoor spaces with Eco-friendly, unique, durable and affordable furniture and accessories, made out of up-cycled materials.
The journey started when they needed to furnish an outdoor space in her husband’s office. “As an architect, I am particular about carefully combining durability and aesthetics, but this time on a budget. It was particularly important for the furniture to be able to withstand weather elements.”
“We came up with the idea of up-cycling timber pallets in creating a wide variety of furniture pieces and accessories, such as planters, trellises pergolas etc. We did some research on timber pallets and found that they go through rigorous wood treatment process, which makes them suitable for use outdoors with the right coating.”
“The outdoor project turned out beautifully, each item with a characteristic rustic look, lovely wood grains, and “nail-scars” characteristic of up-cycled wood product. Friends and family gave compliments, and even requested some items, so we decided to photograph them, and commercialize production. We employed some carpenters, bought a couple of tools/machines, and started the journey of producing some of our existing pieces, and other bespoke items, as requested by clients. Being an architect made designing the pieces easier and also helped to ensure our products were unique.”
For Bukola, the challenges she faced seem to be proportional to the growth of the business but she takes them in stride because she believes they give her a new perspective.
“One of the main challenges we face is in the area of quality assurance, due to the semi-skilled/unskilled labour available in the market, we end up having to micro-manage workers/artisans to ensure all products are accurately crafted. This can be a challenge when you have to meet strict deadlines; it also results in wastage in some instances, where some items have to be made over and over till it is perfect.”
“We however continuously tackle this issue through technology, by using machines where possible to eliminate human errors, and also by training our artisans, plus learning new ways of achieving our goals.”
She draws inspiration from various sources, people, internet, nature etc, but most importantly she draws from the ultimate source; God. Also, “as a business person, I listen and respond to the needs of people around me, anticipate products they need and provide solutions to existing problems or solve them in a new and improved way. Finally, I love wood grains, so the rustic, up-cycled look of the different pieces, inspire me to want to do more.”
When asked for the project(s) that made her believe in herself, she has this to say, “I think believing in yourself and your craft is a journey, and for me different projects, activities, occurrences, reviews have reinforced this for me at different times and stages. I’d mention some of them;
Being an exhibitor at the Simply Nigeran Fair in our first year helped a great deal, we got great reviews, contact information of prospective clients, and were also able to speak about our ideas to a large number of people.
Getting a single deal/contract that generated revenue in 6-digits in our first year also boosted our confidence.
Moving from our “home-workshop” to opening our office/workshop, plus purchasing more machines and employing more hands also encouraged us on this journey.
And most importantly, every single client that has trusted us to furnish their space, build them an outdoor bar, fit out their store or just make them a furniture item, have all encouraged us, and help reinforce that we are doing something right.”
Now, they are looking to “more mechanization of our production processes, as well as exploring “flat-packing” of our pieces, making them easy to ship to various parts of Nigeria and Africa, similar to the IKEA brand. This is to help cater to the needs of as many people as possible by producing in large, standardized quantities.”
“Tastes and preferences of individuals vary widely, and we look to taking advantage of this by offering products in various colours, stains, graffiti, with an opportunity for end-users to DIY. We provide a blank canvas and tools, and our clients make art out of the pieces. An example is our crate furniture, where clients get to buy crates, and turn them into desired furniture pieces, ranging from shoe racks, to shelves, storage boxes, tables, consoles etc.”
“Finally, we look to reviving the use of outdoor spaces within Lagos and beyond (Private, public parks, and commercial buildings) by creating the most beautiful and serene outdoor set-up, where clients can enjoy nature, and get rejuvenated, irrespective of the size of the space. Interacting with nature is therapeutic.”
She believes the importance of youth empowerment cannot be over-emphasized. “It is one of the ways to put an end to social vices such as insurgency, kidnapping etc. It is important that young people are encouraged to take charge of their lives and depend less on a failing system, or older generation. Empowering youths is a way to liberate them into being the best versions of themselves.”
“Empowerment, I believe starts with helping youths understand who they are, help them desire more out of life and make them understand that they are capable of being anything they choose to be in life. NO limits. What follows after is identifying each person’s unique strengths and abilities, refine/hone those abilities/skills. Then teach them how to make a difference in their world with these skills, while making a living.”
“It all boils down to finding your purpose in life, when you walk in your purpose, and meet the needs of people around you, monetary gains automatically follow.”
Connect with them via
Facebook: Vo3 designs
Phone number: 08034652105
And offline at Agungi Lekki, and Eric Moore Road, Surulere