Brooklyn artist creates vintage furniture from African textiles

Brooklyn-based furniture designer Benga Akinnagbe sits on his “Nothing Compares To You” - inspired settee at the DSGN IS BKLYN exposition at Designs Center in Greenpoint.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

Benga Akinnagbe is an American-born artist of Nigerian lineage, so it is not surprising that he sources some of the most beautiful prints from the continent of his ancestors, to fashion his Enitan Vintage furniture collection.

The talented, very light-hearted creator said he liked the energy and quality of things built before his time. Adding that the pieces carry a sense of warmth and personality that seem to transcend space and time such as the late great performer, songwriter, Prince, whose song “Nothing Compares To You,” after which he named his settee. Sexy M.F. 92 is another of Prince’s track that inspired his furniture.

Each Enitan Vintage piece on display at last weekend’s DSGN IS BKLYN exposition in Green Point’s Designs Center, was selected for its quality and potential to be lovingly reimagined with cultural creativity, said the designer.

Akinnagbe, who moved from Washington DC, where he was born, to Bedford Stuyvesant, told Caribbean Life he sources fabric from his travels around the world, bringing the cloth to Brooklyn, to create a unique genre of furniture.

The colorful textiles are also, Vlisco Wax Hollandais, a special product that uses a variety of styles with a range of mixed colors, known as Holland Wax, shipped from Holland.

Enitan means “person of story” in Yoruba.

“The idea of our furniture, our spaces, and our lives being steeped in stories, is the foundation of Enitan Vintage,” he said

Akinnagbe described himself as an actor, activist, and humanitarian, and said he re-envisions fine vintage furniture into ethically elegant new pieces, selected for its quality and potential to be lovingly reimagined with cultural creativity.

“I have fun creating the pieces,” he said, showcasing three selections, varied in price. Visit www.enitanvintage.com for more information.

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