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Kunle Martins

Published on 08 Oct 2021

A true New York artist who seeks inspiration from the people he meets.

Orior

Name, Occupation & Abode?

Kunle Martins

I'm Kunle Martins, I'm an artist and I live alone in my New York City apartment.

Orior

What city or cities has influenced and/or inspired you the most? What specifically is it about these cities that so influences or inspires you?

Kunle

I would say every city that I have ever been to inspires me. It is mostly the people and the history. The people that are there now, friends, and people that I meet, new people. People that I've known from New York that I see in a different city always inspires me. Gets me giddy. What they're up to. Who they introduce me to. What restaurants they want me to go to. What art they want me to see. Museums. Art shows. All that stuff gets me going.

A history of a city, also. I like hanging out with older people who know stories of days past. Things that you won't automatically know just by walking down a place. Buildings that aren't there anymore, people who aren't alive anymore. Events that took place a long time ago that led to or somehow are connected to the events that are happening today. Those things are awesome and inspire me.

But that happens literally in every city I go to all across the world. I haven't been to every city. I feel it would be rude to specify three cities, or two cities, right? That happens everywhere I go. So, “every city that I have been to” is the answer.

Orior

What architects, interior or product designers do you admire?

Kunle

I wouldn't say there's any one particular person that I admire. There are things that inspire me that I like and I may not look into who made them or why. I may just have a moment with a building in a particular time and place and steal that moment even though there are other things going on, and enjoy it for what it is in the moment and then move on.

There's a horrible construction thing going on right outside my studio that is driving me insane and making it hard for me to concentrate and I will use that excuse to not name any architects or interior or product designers specifically.

"I enjoy messing with things, making mistakes, being able to start over and build something better out of a mistake. All these things that come with making things by hand."

Kunle Martins

Orior

What is the importance of making things by hand?

Kunle

It is very important. The fact that I can make things by hand, that I can put things together and make something from, let's say garbage. Or to build something. I made a coffee table with a friend of mine and it's one of the most favorite things in my apartment, my studio. We made an Yves Klein coffee table, and it's amazing. We just fabricated it ourselves.

It is good to be able to do that sort of thing, to be able to make things for yourself. It builds confidence. The possibilities are endless. It's one of those things that gets me riled up and giddy. I don't take it for granted. I realize that a lot of people are not able to take that on, take that task on, or have the confidence to do that.

Kind of makes me feel special also. I enjoy messing with things, making mistakes, being able to start over and build something better out of a mistake. All these things that come with making things by hand. It's very creative. I feel it is very necessary for my life to make things that are in my head fabricate in reality.

Orior

Do you make anything by hand?

Kunle

Yes, I cook all the time. I really like cooking, mainly because I like eating and I like the ways food tastes and smells. I'm lucky that I grew up cooking, had brothers and sisters that I would cook for. In turn, I enjoy washing dishes.. Sometimes I don't want to cook because it seems like a time invested into eating that I don't have. And sometimes I don't want to wash dishes. But generally I like the cooking, I like the preparing part before eating, and then I like the time alone washing dishes just cleaning up the mess I have made.

I learned how to like that when I was a teenager, because there was time I could spend alone by myself without anybody talking to me, or my family yelling at me. I knew the dishes would be done right. I couldn't trust my brother to do them, he was just pretty bad at it so I enjoyed doing that myself.

Orior

“Good things take time, like _______”

Kunle

Good things take time, like....like anything. Like learning a new skill, right? Or getting good at something. I often like taking on a new task like learning how to play an instrument again or learning how to play a new sport. Being new at something, being bad at something and having the patience to learn how to get good at it, it sort of just breaks up the monotony of my day to day life. Because if everything I'm doing is something I've been doing for a long time and I am already good at all these things, it gets really boring. And being a novice at something breaks up the ego, and slows things down, and then builds up the ego again and builds up the self-confidence.

Orior

Give us three reasons you chose the Canyon sofa? What about it appealed?

Kunle

Well, I needed a couch and I wasn't going to go out and just buy a couch. I've been around the block a long enough to know that right now where I'm at in my life I didn't just want a couch. Or a sofa. I wanted something that I was going to enjoy living with. There are certain things about a couch or a sofa that I needed: it needed to be something that I can crawl up onto, I'm a large fellow. I need it to be something that I can have other people sit on as well - it can't be this tiny loveseat thing. Also I wanted it to look good. I've been living in this place for 9 - 12 months without a couch and I decided that this was going to work out and it's worked out very nice.

Orior

Was there a runner-up?

Kunle

There was the Lia Chair with its mustard-colored high back that was really nice, and the Livia ottoman that was really interesting that looked kind of like a sculpture, that I wouldn't have minded looking at. But I NEEDED a couch. Or a sofa. So the decision made itself.

Orior

How do you use it?

Kunle

I use it to relax, to take phone calls, to eat on, to watch media -- there's a television opposite the couch. It's basically a living room bed so I take naps on it pretty often. Naps are very important. I wake up quite early some days, so a nap in the middle of the day is something that is needed and the couch provides wonderful occasion for that.

Orior

How would you describe your Canyon sofa’s “attitude and personality?”

Kunle

Personality is pretty dominant, it takes over. It is very aware of its ability to make me feel comfortable and fall asleep. It knows that I need it so it is kind of like a housekeeper that runs the show -- there's the mom and the dad but the housekeeper basically does everything and knows everybody's business and nobody can get anything done without the housekeeper. That's how this couch is. It is like, "you need me, you need to nap on me, there's nothing else like me in the entire apartment, not even the bed." It is pretty secure in its position in my life. So it has that attitude where it looks at its fingernails and is kind of like, you know, glosses them off on his chest like "yeah, I got this." And I like that, I like that it knows what's up.

Orior

All Orior pieces have names, but if you could rename the Canyon, what would you name it and why?

Kunle

I have been calling it a Living Room Bed because it is very large, I can lay on it from head to toe without my head or toes laying on the armrests. Which is a very unique feeling to have in the living room. Usually I am curled up on something. Or using an ottoman to stretch out. And this is something I can stretch out on lengthwise and feel completely relaxed. Generally that is not a feeling that I get outside of the bed, anywhere. I usually have to curl up my knees or ball up in the fetal position and here I get to stretch out, and what generally happens at that point is that I fall asleep.

Orior

If you were to be reincarnated as a piece of furniture or home décor item, what would it be, and why?

Kunle

Huh. Interesting. I would like to think it would be something that [people] use daily and can sleep on, but has a confidence and knows that it's needed and provides something that no other piece of furniture can give. I think maybe that could also be the super power of the Canyon sofa, it reflects my own kind of personality or something that I want to be. In furniture. I think I would be the Canyon Sofa, which is weird, because I didn't think I would say that.

Text by Rima Suqi
Photography by Jonathan Hokklo