CK Interview – Funfere Koroye

I recently came across Funfere Koroye via his Instagram account (FusionKelvar) and was instantly blown away by his style, designs and hand made shoes. After some emails, and skype conversations we managed to create a quick interview detailing his footwear design & product engineering journey to this point. Check out the interview after the jump to hear what he has to say about how he got into design, what he feels the current state of design is like in Africa, why he decided to move to Italy to learn how to make shoes, and much more.

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[highlight] CK – Hi Funfere, can you introduce yourself to us? [/highlight]


FK – Well, my name is Funfere Koroye, born and raised in Nigeria. Educated worldwide since 17. I am a product engineer and industrial designer. I got my bachelors degree at the savannah college of art and design then went on to get my masters at the domus academy in Italy. Curently in florence as a shoe making apprentince, not to be mistaken with intern. I have an avid love for engineering products, innovating through design and the process of creating objects with a function. I have been featured on several websites and numerous magazines. I am also the founder of Fusion Kevlar which involves primarily focusing on editorials, product design, product photography, branding and lifestyle
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[highlight] CK – How did you get into design (specifically shoe design)? [/highlight]

FK – I don’t like the word design, its too broad and unruly. i would rather use the word inventor innovator. for as back as i remember engineering and hand crafting has been in my system, i started taking apart toys and drawing the parts since i was 9 yrs old, which pushed me to chase industrial design after high school. Shoe design came to me late in my studies. Originally I planned to get into transportation design, I mean I still do but for now it’s in the incubation process due to manufacturing standards in west Africa. I have always loved footwear and when I came to Italy, I fell in love with the Italian craftsmen who designed and hand made their own shoes. Also I think as a avid soccer player and all round sport lover, footwear has always been in my diet. To be honest my biggest push came from a friend who has made waves after winning a shoe design competition for power force sports apparel.

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[highlight] CK – Why did you decided to take it a step further in your shoe education and move to Italy to learn how to make shoes? [/highlight]

FK – Italy was just supposed to be a one year masters in product design but when after immersing my self in the beauty of Tuscany, I realized this pathways for me. I have always made things with my hand but didn’t have a focus I excelled at perfectly. So I spoke to a few professionals and they directed me to Florence. Now I am a student and apprentice for Roberto Ugolini. It is hard explaining how hand making shoes has expanded my knowledge. The process is very much archaic but extremely complex.

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[highlight] CK – How is the current state of footwear design in Nigeria? How can we make it better? [/highlight]

FK – Footwear design doesn’t exist in Africa as a whole, neither does product design or proper manufacturing of soft goods. There are craftsmen and artisans of sorts but none with a proper vision of branding and innovation. For one money is important, secondly the youth must push the envelope on creativity. Most people my age are bankers, lawyers and doctors, it seems no one understands design Superseeds just fashion. Nigerians and Africans must dive into the many facets of industrial and product design for things to change. Finally the government must also invest in the “made in Africa” initiative so job provision can be a reality. Talented Africans are left with no options but to relocate out of the continent to make a career.

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[highlight] CK – What are your plans for the near future? [/highlight]

FK – As of this moment I am working on my brand of athletic footwear, work wear and dress shoes but its a slow process because I am hand making only samples in my apprenticeship. So I have decided in the last couple months to chase a job in Asia, so I can learn how the mass manufacturing business really works. Nothing is set in stone yet, but I have talks with a footwear brand with small roots in New York and Japan. This experience will kick start the future of my ideas for the African continent in engineering footwear.
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[highlight] CK – Where do you see yourself in 10 years? [/highlight]

FK – Ten years from now I want to be my own boss, while also doing product collaborations on a global scale. I don’t like name dropping but I would like to be a mix of Steve jobs and Tinker Hatfield, then sprinkle on some Dangote to seal the recipe. Footwear isn’t the final frontier, I will be involved in bigger products on larger scales. In summary I want to be an industrialist, overseeing manufacturing and innovation consultancy in west Africa.
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[highlight] CK – Do you have any advice for young designers coming out of Africa? [/highlight]

FK – No disrespect to anyone’s field but African designers must stay away from the hyped up scene of fashion, specifically bespoke clothing. There is no manufacturing to support the brands the exist. If they want to be serious then create the next Gucci or the next Zara within the continent. It’s stores that move merchandise and create multinationals. Start diving into more difficult parts of design, it’s about innovation not popularity. In fact all Africans should pick a copy of objectified and read the rules of good design by dieter rams (the guy you should thank for the apple aesthetic) design isn’t easy and shouldn’t be compared to splattering paint of paper. Product designers work full-time to give you chairs, houses and phones so we should taken seriously. African designers need to educated themselves, educate others through their work and create useful goods. Emphasis on create, not just sketch and hand over to a tailor looking for a quick buck. Lets empower each other, diversify our expertise and build a network to reach the masses.
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