The Newly Reopened Africa Centre Celebrates the Continent’s Culture (and Seriously Chic Room Dividers)

The bar on the main level of the Africa Centre in London’s Southwark neighborhood sums up Tola Ojuolape’s vision for the space: tactility. The structure is topped with copper, the base wrapped in terracotta relief tiles. “This idea of creating things directly with your hands through metalwork or beading or woven materials unifies what I’ve seen across the continent,” says the interior designer, who collaborated with architecture firm Freehaus, structural engineers Price & Myers, art curator Alexia Walker, and consulting agency Mam’gobozi Design Factory to bring the newly reopened space to life.

The reimagining of the once dilapidated 1960s building took 16 months and encompassed a restaurant and café, an exhibition space, and a business center—places to serve the charity’s mission to create and promote authentic African cultural experiences. Ojuolape leaned on her travels to Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Morocco, and more to infuse the space with an essence of the continent, rather than leaning into a specific place. “It was important for me to be able to create moments that people would physically touch and could almost travel in an instant,” she says. “If I had done the back bar wall in tile instead, it would look beautiful, but you would never fully be able to experience it.” Ahead, Ojuolape reveals four other ways she swathed the space in texture.


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