Interview by Visual Collaborative
May 2019 5 min read
Funfere Koroye is an Industrial designer and Product Developer Based in Lagos. In this Voyager interview feature, Koroye talks about the challenges of an industry and his forthcoming work.
(VC) You had an early start in deconstructing things toys and appliances in childhood. how has this natural curiosity helped you in the rapidly developing tech industry?
(Funfere) I think the act of taking something apart to see how it worked unravelled my mind beyond what i was being taught in school. The Nigerian education system is a bit lackluster so i went out of my way to discover my passion while other children had their professions forced on them. honestly curiosity is a liberating force for me and it’s the fuel that fires up innovation in technology anywhere in our world. without people wanting to push limits globally; we would not be where we are today.
(VC) Your multiple disciples in industrial design and product development makes you an outlier of some sort. Do you agree and relish in this fact? What kind of advantage has it been for you given the saturation in the technology field?
(Funfere) It’s not hard for me to admit that some of my success has come from the fact that I am literally one in a million hardware designers on the continent – definitely an advantage in a google or linkedin search. however hard work and consistency has brought me to this point. Technology is primarily saturated in the software industry so this has given me leverage to be the voice of my discipline and help inspire those who might need a push to follow my path of great resistance.
(VC) You spent time at the savannah college of art and design, what where your most memorable moments there and if you could do it all over again what would you do?
(Funfere) Going to SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) was a mind altering experience – I had no idea so much went into the design and tech field. I interacted with filmmakers, animators, sound designers and architects. But the best part of school was we had the opportunity to take classes in other majors to get a taste of their world. this made me realize that I could just be one type of designer – it pushed me to think in 3 dimensions of creativity. I would definitely do it again in their hong kong campus (This is how my relationship with China started).
I would like to work with a large enterprise like Dangote or Mobil to show that design thinking can take African companies from brands to innovative experiences.
(VC) At this stage of your career considering your present commitments, If you could work alongside any personality or enterprise. Who would it be and why?
(Funfere) At this stage in my career my next step is growth and mentorship – I would like to work with a large enterprise like Dangote or Mobil to show that design thinking can take African companies from brands to innovative experiences. I would also like to collaborate with people i look up to in my field of creativity like Tosin Oshinowo and David Adjaye.
(VC) You have a considerably privileged background and then your professional experiences, what can you candidly tell aspiring young people or entrepreneurs about success and risk in business?
(Funfere) Success is not determined by the school you went to or the degree you studied – It is a mix of passion and who you surround yourself with in the lowest moments of your pursuit. fundraising is a massive issues Nigeria and so is bringing new ideas so be ready to be frustrated but use that as a motivator! people crazy enough to think they can effect change in the world usually do.
Photo courtesy of Funfere
(VC) Observing the rising despondency of political movements in parts of the Nigeria and some places of the south east, as a professional who leverages design and technology are you more critical about your own career or more optimistic given the trajectory of the present times?
(Funfere) I will have to say I am more critical about career because political unrest is never a good thing for technology – some of the greats have had to relocate to places that incubated their innovations better. There is a hope but it sadly can’t pay the bills; so i am currently weighing all options while keeping my eye on the prize. my goal is to use hardware to bring change to 3rd world nations in Africa and beyond.
(VC) Some mention the Renaissance as an art period they admire. If you can time-warp back to any era, what time would it be and why?
(Funfere) My favorite era would have to Prohibition – I think the reason is because everyone wore a suit – even bank robbers. But i am mostly attracted to how the Industrial Age leap frogged; for example car development and manufacturing started to get more innovative. Industrial design took roots at this time, but it didn’t even have a name but millions of patents were filed from the minds of innovative Americans.
(VC) What kind of design or commercial work if any can the world expect from Funfere within the next 5 years?
(Funfere) Within the next five years I want to be involved in a billion dollar hardware product – Its been done by foreign conglomerates based on the continent but never from an indigenous owned company. I would like to be part of a team that solves a problem with a commercial device and turns into a lucrative venture that also provides jobs.