Yinka Ilori gives the streets of London a Technicolor makeover

Yinka Ilori gives the streets of London a Technicolor makeover

Written by Leah Dolan, CNNLondon

Yinka Ilori, a British Nigerian designer known for her effervescent technicolor murals, has transformed 11 pedestrian crossings in central London as part of a new public art project hoping to boost domestic tourism in the UK.

Beginning near Camden’s Percy Street, the crossings stretch through Tottenham Court Road – a historic shopping destination with shops dating back to the early 19th century. Neon green, fuschia and electric blue road markings stretch across the asphalt in an interwoven geometric pattern representing the city’s municipal spirit, Ilori said.

“It was a work inspired by lockdown,” he told CNN. “I thought the lockdown was tough, but I also found it quite festive. In an unusual way, I found love for the people in my community. These linear lines show the connection between people and how we got together.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and the artist Yinka Ilori go over the new piece of art. Credit: Stephen Chung / PinPep

The new street scene design on Tottenham Court Road, which will be in place for a year, is part of the mayor of London’s Let’s Do London campaign to boost the city’s tourism industry. Ilori is poised to debut six more crossovers across London; and from 20 September during the London Design Festival, the public is invited to help carry out a similar project on the area’s Queen Street pedestrian street.

Ilori’s maximalist re-imaginings of everyday space have made him a remarkable force in London’s design scene. This summer, the architect took over the farm in Somerset House to build a mini-fair with musical bumper cars. In 2019, he installed “Playland,” a color-blocking playground for adults at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
Ilori's interwoven designs denote the community he discovered in lockdown.

Ilori’s interwoven designs denote the community he discovered in lockdown. Credit: Stephen Chung / PinPep

Unveiling a new public art installation is no easy feat, especially when the piece happens to be in the middle of a busy London road. But Ilori insists on the importance of a pedestrian crossing: “You pass people, you share that experience together. You can blindfold someone or smile, or maybe brush your shoulders.”

The designer hopes these dazzling traffic markers will encourage city residents to explore areas they may have previously overlooked. “There are always points in London where people meet,” Ilori said. “I think this can be a point for people. Hopefully (the artwork) will become a destination.”

Top image: A cyclist runs over Yinka Ilori’s installation on Tottenham Court Road.

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