SASI Creative Director Advocates for Female Empowerment in Interior Design

Funmi Ogundare

Mrs. Tosin Oladipo, the Creative Director for SASI, a furniture and interior decor company, has called for the training of females in interior design to give them the needed exposure to stand on their own.

Oladipo, who said this recently at her organisation’s 12th-anniversary celebration in Lagos, expressed delight about how far SASI had come, saying that the right education will dictate what the world will present to one.

Speaking with journalists, the botany graduate from the University of Lagos recalled how her project supervisor, Prof. James Olowokudejo, made her study more on the economic importance of wood in West Africa, which exposed her to its usefulness and how undermined and overexposed it can also be.

“My project supervisor made me understand that with good craftsmanship, Nigeria will be able to deliver at least 80 or 90 per cent of furniture that are being imported into the country,” Oladipo said.

Asked how she feels in a male-dominated field, she stated, “It is the hardest part because my male counterpart believes that once you are a woman, you should be able to get the job. Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to gather a community of women in this field of interior design, but the men get the job more in the ratio 70:30 because most times, they think that women don’t have the capability and strength and that women are mere sweet talkers who will end up talking their way through the process and will still give the job to a man to do.”

The creative director described her craft’s acceptance as gaining momentum compared with before when people imported almost all their furniture. 

“Presently people are more open to their cabinetry being done in Nigeria. We also have the challenge of underpayment because people don’t want to pay for creatives, but they will only appreciate you if they are able to get the value of what you have done,” she noted.

Oladipo added, “Sincerely, Nigerians are beginning to welcome the idea that such is done in Nigeria and they want more of it. So we now see establishment and corporate bodies making their own furniture rather than importing it.”

Oladipo stated that those who had been patronising her over the years, have gotten quality for their money and her parents now accept her field.

“My parents didn’t accept the idea of me going into the field of interior design initially because they were hoping that I will move gradually into the white collar job, especially coming from a lineage of carpenters. Their thoughts was that the boys in the family can do it, while the girls can venture into other things. But God has been faithful,” she said.

When asked how she came up with the name SASI, she said, “You need to accessorise your furniture design. The space will never be welcoming if it doesn’t smell nice. I started my core with bedrooms. I wanted it to be the core of the home, and I started with bedsheets. So these were embedded in the name SASI, an acronym for Sheets Accessory Scents and Interiors.”

She expressed hope that her organisation would have custom-made furniture, saying that since houses are built differently in Nigeria, every space has a specific need or want. 

“My hope is to have a framework that will enable for shorter time for customers to get their products delivered. One thing that is also affecting the business in Nigeria is trust,” Oladipo stressed. “When I give you my money, how am I sure that you will deliver the quality? We also intend to have a hub where other people can sublet under us and people can get their products within a shorter time.”

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