Save to List: Carina Kanbi's West African Wave, part 2
A world’s worth of recommended spots from our global community
words – carina tenewaa kanbi
location – lagos, nigeria
At boom saloon, we’re incredibly privileged to collaborate with a community of hundreds of talented creatives all around the world, stretching from Ecuador to Egypt, China to Canada, Austria to Angola. Our strong relations have afforded us a wealth of insider insights into the best places to visit, eat and stay, all around the world. Now, we want to share this information with you as we work with our community to map the world and share their best recommendations of how to enjoy destinations both near and far. Our version of a city guide, delivered interactively and in real time – curated for all to enjoy and presented as a savable Google Map for our members to save and bookmark a wealth of future adventures.
For as long as I can remember, Lagos has been a city that captivated me. It is like nowhere else in the world – and I would argue it is the most dynamic and inspiring city on the West African coast.
Home to some of the most brilliant minds, it has a growing population of an estimated 16,536,000 in the Lagos metropolitan area. To truly see Lagos, one must explore all of its islands: merely visiting Victoria Island or Ikoyi does not provide a comprehensive understanding of the city’s offerings. Although it is impossible to sum up the enormous city in a few sentences, I hope this selection gives you a glimpse into Lagos and inspires you to explore further.
The reuse and reinvention of existing spaces is an essential aspect of sustainable city building in Lagos and Accra. 16by16, started by Tushar Hathiramani and his family, is a design-focused boutique hotel, incubator and private gathering space hidden in a multi-story apartment block. Arrive from the outside; you might think you are lost, but persevere. Embedded across the different floors are various hotel rooms and a co-working and connecting space. 16by16 is committed to building inclusive creative urbanism and hospitality within Lagos, designed to emulate a model of the city’s future – exploring how the spaces can intersect and enable creative freedom and innovation. Oh, and male sure to check out Thai Thai restaurant while you are there, for flavours and vibes.
Ajasa Street on Lagos Island, the city’s central business district, is unassuming – a mixture of 1980’s and 1990’s apartment blocks and smaller two-story buildings lined on either side with cars and the odd tree. But rest assured: it is home to some of Lagos’s most innovative creators, and well worth a wander.
03_This Is Us
Building connections between Kano, Lagos and the world, This Is Us – a Nigerian atelier founded by Oroma Cookey-Gam and Osione Itegboje – uses Nigerian natural cotton and indigo dyes to create unique collections. Committed to supporting spatial development through design, they host pop-ups worldwide but can always be found at their showrooms and atelier on 30 Ajasa Street. They have just recently released a pop-up with Imasigo and Dye Lab, two other socially committed Nigerian brands; go check them out online or by passing through the showroom.
Lagos Urban Development Initiative, founded by Olamide Udoma-Ejorh, is an organisation with the ambition to create a more livable and socially inclusive space for Lagos citizens. Heading initiatives around gender-inclusive design and building a car free walkable environment, they are proactively changing the landscape of the city. Follow them on Instagram to watch their journey and access their resources, which have uses well beyond the borders of Lagos.
05_ÌTÀN(e-tohn) Test kitchen
Situated in the central area of Ikoyi, discreetly nestled within a residential apartment complex, lies one of the most innovative dining establishments in the city. Chef Micheal Elégbèdé and his team utilise Nigerian ingredients to craft immersive, engaging and exquisite eating encounters. By making a reservation, you will not only enjoy the team’s amazing food but also learn about Nigerian cuisine and discover various techniques for utilising Nigerian produce.
For wearable, conscious art head to Iamisigo, tucked away unassumingly on Lagos Island [in Lagos, I really feel like the best bits are hidden]; make sure to give them a call beforehand. The lovechild of Bubu Ogisi, one of Nigeria’s finest designers, Iamisigo’s artistic practice involves recreating overlooked historical narratives, transforming them into garments and fibres that function as a silent protest against post-colonialism. This is expressed through textile art, space installations, visuals and film. Each room transports you into a different world. Their focus lies in thorough decolonization of the mind, as they question and engage with a diverse range of socio-political issues, including religion, gender, traditions, symbols, magic, scripts, tribes and the ecological future. It’s a place to stop and ponder, not only on the beautiful pieces but on the various forces at work within the city, and how they shape futures.
Although entering 1004 requires an invitation from a resident, I felt it was necessary to include it on the list because it represents a different aspect of Lagos. Built in 1979 as a lavish home for House of Representatives members and their families, 1004 is situated on the edge of Victoria Island. Supposedly the biggest single high-rise estate in Sub-Saharan Africa, it now boasts more than 1004 dwellings. Nowadays, people of different ages and backgrounds live there in relative peace. Although the pool and ‘luxury’ labels have largely been abandoned, they remain a fascinating emblem of Lagos’s urban evolution. The vibrant apartment buildings, reminiscent of 1970’s London, are a striking contrast to the diverse architectural style of the city. And while they are a visual statement in and of themselves, they also raise questions about the future of sustainable living in densely populated cities across Africa and, by extension, the globe.
08_African Artist Foundation
Dedicated to celebrating contemporary art across the continent, there is always an artist in residence or an exciting exhibition by Nigerian or African artists to be found here. Their garden area is nice for relaxing in after checking out the latest show.
Nigerian literature and music have educated the world about Lagos and Nigeria. And so, it’s only fitting you take a quick trip to the Jazzhole on the infamous Awolowo Road, a busy commercial road in Ikoyi, one of the city’s plusher neighbourhoods. Be prepared to spend hours here getting lost in their literary archives and don’t forget to ask for recommendations on Nigerian authors and music. You won’t be disappointed.
A stone’s throw from Jazzhole, you’ll find Rap Cafe, with an extensive Nigerian and hip-hop library and listening lounge, in a quieter corner of Lagos, giving a space for reflection while grabbing some food.
An all-time favourite and Lagos treasure, in the same neighbourhood as Rap Joint and Jazzhole, Thursday nights at Bogobiri are unmatched. The buildings and sculptures that welcome you are enough to demand a visit to the space, but the live open mic, the wealth of talent and the Palm wine will make every part of what may have been a very hectic day in Lagos a bit easier.
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