Boss Of The Week

Titi Ogufere: Celebrating a High Flying Interior Designer

By Eric Elezuo

“As long as I can remember I have had a passion and drive for art and design. From my early days at school, followed on as I graduated and insisted that I wanted to work in a furniture manufacturing company. I believe I was created to be an Interior Designer. Design is in my DNA. I find myself in my element whenever I engage in anything that has to do with design.”

She is committed, hard working, determined and focused. Her life is a mirror of self evaluation, learning and encouragement. She is Titi Ogufere, world renowned interior decorator albeit designer, who has transcended the length and breath of entrepreneurship and is standing tall.

A proud holder of a B.Sc in Mathematics and Library Science from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Titi Ogufere was born and raised in Nigeria, where she had almost all her education. She was already rolling in entrepreneurial stardom when the desire to step up her game prompted her to go ahead and obtain a degree in Interior Design from Dublin, Ireland and thereafter she obtained a Diploma in Events Management and PR from Dublin Business School. She went further to obtain a certificate in Editorial design from London College of Arts.

Totally equipped for the task ahead, Ogufere kicked off her career in 2000 at Design Options Ltd where she had a two years stint before establishing Essential Interiors, a furniture manufacturing and interdisciplinary practice with operations in Lagos, in 2002. Still hungry to break new grounds, she traveled to Dublin to broaden her education, while she kept her company running in Nigeria. She served as an Ex-Officio Executive Committee member of the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers (IFI), a position she held for 5 years before landing the top job; a reward for steadfastness.

In 2007, Ogufere founded Essential Media Group (EMG); a full-service media company that is into Publishing, Events and Digital Media. EMG publishes two magazines, organizes a design festival, two highly specialized exhibitions, conferences, an awards program and has published over 25 books including This is Africa: Traditional Design, Modern and Contemporary (2017), In Conversation with Demas Nwoko  (2019) and Vernacular Design: Redefining the Narrative (2019).

In 2017, Ogufere launched the African Culture and Design Festival, an exhibition geared towards showcasing traditional, modern, and contemporary African Art and Design. The event was organized by the Interior Design Association of Nigeria in partnership IFI, with the theme; This is Africa.

In the same year in Dubai, Ogufere stood in front of an audience of renowned international designers and architects, the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers (IFI) when she was inaugurated as the CEO of Essential Interiors Consultancy and Publisher Essential Media Group as President. She went ahead to make a landmark achievement as the first President of African descent with the unanimous support and vote extended by the IFI members during the General Assembly.

With much crafted desire for the good of the industry, Ogufere, in 2019, launched Design Week Lagos (DWL), an annual event with the aim of bringing together a community of local and international designers, architects, and the creative industries with a vision to celebrate and promote Lagos as a leading global design capital. 

The project has played host to a number events across the city of Lagos, including; Design Kulture Exhibition, MADE by Design Show, Tourism Investors Forum, Sound for Design, Reflection for Happy Spaces, and Vocational Training Week.

The woman of substance brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the organisations under her large umbrella as the CEO and Creative Director, which includes Essential Interiors Consultancy, publisher of Essential Interiors Media, founder of the Interior Designers Association of Nigeria (IDAN) and Design Week Lagos (DWL), West Africa’s first global design fair.

As the 21st president of the federation, Ogufere is helping in no small measure its continuous expansion internationally and across all levels of society, furthering the contribution of the Interior Architecture/Design profession through the exchange, development of knowledge, experience in education, research and practice, through fellowship and community.

Bringing her expertise and experience to bear, she is focusing on shifting the narrative of African design by creating stronger links leading to collaborations between the continent and the rest of the globe with IFI resources. This is as she strongly believes that design should be inclusive and as the global voice and authority for professional Interior Architects/Designers, IFI must prioritize this as its central agenda.

To this end, she enthused: “If a design doesn’t solve a problem and isn’t of use to a broad group – not just in the developing nations, but globally – then I’d say it’s not a very successful design.”

Ever since her election to the grand office, encomiums have been pouring in from equally seasoned professionals among whom is the IFI President (2017-2020), Steven Leung, who said

“I formally congratulate Nigeria, Africa and the Interior Designers Association of Nigeria (IDAN) on the appointment of Ms. Titi Ogufere as the incoming President of the International Federation of Interior Architects/ Designers.

We are pleased to have Ms. Ogufere as the first President of African descent with the unanimous support and vote extended by the IFI members during the General Assembly in 2017. We see this opportunity for IFI, to help to expand and uplift literacy, awareness, fellowship and cooperation – not just within the discipline of Interior Architecture/Design but also at a societal and cultural level.”

Ogufere’s IFI is the global voice and authority for professional Interior Architects / Designers. It is the singular international federating body for Interior Architecture / Design organizations, which acts as a global forum for the exchange and development of knowledge and experience in worldwide education, research and practice. IFI connects the international community to further the impact, influence and application of the design of interiors, promote global social responsibility and raise the status of the profession worldwide. The IFI, strategically located close to the UN in New York City, represents and reaches out to some 110 nations. In other words, Ogufere’s dexterity is harnessed to cater and run the affairs of a large scale of members from 110 nations.

As as a pioneering designer, design advocate, critical thinker and visionary, she believes that the potential for design to change society and bring economic development in the developing countries is underrated. Consequently, she champions the cause with a relentless drive in breaking boundaries, pushing the agenda of advocacy, sustainability, collaboration, growth, identity discovery, problem-solving and education. She has received acclaim for her design approach and is at the forefront of the industry in Africa.

Among her many mind blowing achievements, Ogufere has designed high-end residential, commercial, and hospitality projects for an exclusive list of highly select clients across the globe.  She is also CEO of Essential Media Group (EMG), a full-service media company spread across the platforms of Publishing, Events and Digital Media. EMG publishes 2 leading magazines, organizes a design festival, two highly specialized exhibitions, conferences, an awards programme and has published over 25 books including This is Africa: Traditional Design, Modern and Contemporary (2017), In Conversation with Demas Nwoko (2019) and Vernacular Design: Redefining the Narrative (2019).

Ma, for your exceptional creative genius with an interior design career spanning close to two decades and being among the top 10 leaders of the design world in Africa, in addition to becoming the elected president of IFI out of sheer hard work, we honour you with our Boss of the Week award. congratulations ma!

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