“I currently live in Amsterdam, but I used to live in London for 15 years. My mother is English, from near Manchester and my father is Nigerian. Unfortunately I haven’t been to Lagos yet but I would really love to as I have a lot of family there. I’ve only met my grandmother who lived in Nigeria when I was five or six, so I must admit, I’m very curious about Lagos. I hope I can go there in the very near future.

In terms of my career, it all started at the University of Westminster and from there, I carried on to do an MA at The Royal College of Art in Direction Illustration.

Love affair
A while after I finalised my studies, my girlfriend (now my wife) started to work at a textile studio. As she knew illustration was my passion, she suggested that I might enjoy designing textiles too. And would you believe it, I got a job at the same studio! That was the beginning of my love affair with textiles. I was creating designs for different fashion brands, and although I enjoyed it, the results were never very special due to how the textiles were eventually printed. Vlisco however, uses wax to make the drawing on the fabric and colour blocking to add colour– an incredible process of 23 steps. I’m still in awe of the craftsmanship.

So when I moved with to Amsterdam with my wife a few years ago, I was really pleased to start working for Vlisco. Actually, I couldn’t have been happier! My imagination was running wild with the design possibilities. I love how the brand is able to combine outspokenness and subtilty all at once, and that’s very unique in the textile world where most brands tend to play it safe. As you can imagine, I felt a great sense of liberty when I arrived, as I was given the space to develop a wide variety of designs from geometric to florals and objects, and I was even able to include elements of humour – all the things I love.

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I’m really passionate about creating links with Vlisco’s rich heritage as you’ll see from my design for the collection Hommage a l’Art (left). For this piece I took the icons out of their original context and gave them a fresh alternative, paying respectful homage by giving the precious icons the pedestal I felt they deserved.”

Tomi draws his inspiration from so many Vlisco fabrics. Would you like to purchase one of his designs? Click on one of the fabrics below or here to see more of his creations!

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‘Those with a keen eye will have noticed that a key aspect of my work is the small elements I use to fill an object or background. Something I did for my designs for this season too – I’m so proud of the final artwork.’

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