The final lap of Design Week Lagos (DWL) which was held all week long at Livespot Entertainment Centre, Lekki, Lagos was a book launch by design legend, Demas Nwoko, Africa’s pre-eminent “artist-architect.” He occupies a unique position in African art, design and architecture. At once an artist, protean designer, architect and master builder, Demas Nwoko has striven, in his practice, to incorporate modern techniques in architecture and stage design to highlight and propagate his traditional African ethos. He has consistently refused to limit himself to any singular format.
While best known for his Dominican church architecture, Demas Nwoko has also crafted sculptures, ceramics, drawings, graphic works, metal works, tapestries, interior design, product designs, and stage sets – the list is endless. He is known to use technology to enable his creation of spaces suited for the modern age.
In the book titled ‘Concrete Thinking’ which is his latest literary offering, the author writes with measured language that is at once accessible and clear in intent. This clarity serves his purpose of universal understanding in pursuit of the wide adoption of his ideas and recommendations. Concrete Thinking is unapologetically didactic. Demas Nwoko is a teacher and social reformer and nowhere is this manifested as forcefully as in this book that encapsulates the cogent lines of thought validated and refined over decades. Concrete Thinking is also unapologetically repetitive. With twenty essays aggregated over seven decades advocating on essentially the same subject, this repetition is as inevitable as it is intentional, repetition, after all, is one of the key aids to learning. The repetition however lies in the central thesis that underpins the entire book, which each essay buttresses from different perspectives. Concrete Thinking, therefore, remains nonetheless effervescent with the author’s ability as a natural storyteller, to marshall his thoughts in compelling ways.
Demas advocates in his Book: “We should carry away with us, a New Culture slogan which says: ‘For our survival, create something today, anything’! If your inventions look like the product of an eccentric dream today, take heart, for it might turn out to be the lifeline of tomorrow.” And he is not done yet, Concrete Thinking is only the first of a new set of horses to bolt out of his stables to be closely followed by his autobiography, his book of design parameters for the field of architecture and building construction and his book on African theatre production. The phenomenon called Demas Nwoko is indeed a gift that keeps on giving.
The book launch ceremony saw the presence of the likes of Fadesewa of Simawa (Long Term Associate and Collaborator of Demas Nwoko), His Royal Highness, Oba Gbenga Sonuga (Former Director of Lagos State Council for Art and Culture), Kavita Chellaram (Art Collector, Founder of KO Art Gallery), Nike Okundaye (Founder of Nike Art Gallery) and many other distinguished guests.
The evening was brought to an end with guests also purchasing their copies of the exceptional book in anticipation of strengthening their minds from the knowledge and experience of the veteran Design legend, Demas Nwoko.