Meet the Woman Helping to Put African Product and Interior Design on the World Map

With the NU MI Design Luxury Exhibition, Tanwa Newbold is putting the spotlight on the vanguard of contemporary African designers, starting with Nigeria.


A quick online search online for African product or interior design brings up slim pickings. That is an obfuscation of the rich history and talent the continent has contributed over time, and interior designer Tanwa Newbold is looking to change that.

Through the NU MI Design Exhibition she launched last year, she curates the work of some of the leading product and interior designers in the country. The event was so successful that their partners insisted they came back for a second time, with their backing to ensure it became an annual event.

NU MI Design Exhibition 2019 Lagos hosted at the LASWA Jetty

“It’s important to present our unique point of view, and engage in the dialogue happening in the global design community. I have always been passionate about using the skills of our home grown artisans to create objects and spaces that inspire and speak to the best of us. Our first exhibition showcased the range of interesting pieces my design firm was creating locally. After the initial validation, I really wanted to put the spotlight on the vanguard of contemporary African designers right now, starting with Nigeria. We have so much to say, so much to share!

Tanwa Newbold, NU MI Design House

This year work from Lani Adeoye, Tosin Oshinowo, Funfere Koroye, Ugoma Adegoke, Kelechi Odu, Tunde Owolabi and a special collaboration between Polly Alakija and Newbold’s brand NU MI were on display. Kelechi Odu ‘s fashioning spoils from found objects into new desirable pieces, like fusing coniferous wood used in shipping and marble offcuts in his Spolia Collection is truly fascinating and speaks to African design’s sustainability ethos.

NU MI Design House and Polly Alakija Furniture

Parson’s Alum Lani Adeoye of Studio-Lani needs no introduction. Her work has been featured in Architectural Digest, Vogue and at Design Indaba, winning in the Furniture Category for Wanted Design’s Launch Pad in NYC, receiving the Silver Award at the European Product Design Awards and showing in the Rising Talents Salone Satellite during Milan Design Week.

(L-R) Tanwa Newbold with Lani Adeoye of Studio Lani at the Nu Mi Design Exhibition 2019

Her showcase in Lagos was the first of its kind and a true homecoming. She also collaborates with Tunde Owolabi’s Ethnik By T.O. to source handwoven aso oke. His pieces on display using leather, aso oke, wood and upcycled mopeds are not only striking, they are eco friendly and speak to the rich tradition of limiting waste in the design process.

Ethnik by Tunde Owolabi
Aso Oke Moped by Tunde Owolabi

Feted architect Tosin Oshinowo also celebrates the aso oke fabric that is unique to western Nigeria in her glorious line of Ile-Ila chairs where cultural identity is paramount.

This year’s exhibition also emphasised the complete home, incorporating soft furnishings, as well as art from Lemi Ghariokwu, John Madu, Olumide Onapide and galleries Nike Art and Bloom Art.

NU MI Design House Cupboard against Lemi Ghariokwu
NU MI Design House Dining Set against Lemi Ghariokwu
Ugoma Adegoke Bloom ArtCross section at Nu Mi Design Exhibition 2019

“The opportunity to do this today, to tell our own stories using our own pieces is exciting. We are thrilled that it has become the product and design exhibition of note, and we can’t wait to expand our focus to the rest of West Africa next year”.

Tanwa Newbold, NU MI Design House

About NU MI Design House

NU MI is an integrated interior design, furniture manufacturer and homeware product designer founded by Tanwa Newbold. The company provides a range of corporate and individual clients with project based interior design services, supplemented by the ability to produce or procure unique furniture and homeware to suit the individual tastes of our clientele. For more information visit .

About Tanwa Newbold

With a Master’s Degree in Investment Banking and short stints in the financial services industries in Memphis, London and Lagos, Tanwa Newbold set out to pursue a career in design over a decade ago. With a contemporary Africa aesthetic, and passion for celebrating local craftsmen and exciting new design voices at home and in diaspora, she continues to grow her design businesses that now span consulting, production, procurement and the annual NU MI Design Luxury Exhibition

About NU MI Design Luxury Exhibition

Starting as a showcase of NU MI Design House’s locally produced furniture and crockery lines in 2018, the exhibition has grown to cover cutting edge creators and artists. In 2019, the event was held on the 21st and 22nd of October at the newly opened LASWA Yard in Lagos, Nigeria with support from the Bank of Industry, Plascon Paints and La Connaisseur. It features work from product designers Studio Lani, Ile Aga, Alaga Collections, Funfere Koroye, Kelechi Odu, Ethnik by Tunde Awolabi, Ugomma Adegoke alongside renowned artists Polly Alakija, Ghariokwu Lemi, Olumide Onadipe and a curated selection from Bloom Art and Nike Art Gallery .

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