Architect and Designer Spotlight: David Adjaye
David Adjaye is one of the most fascinating and accomplished architects in recent memory. Born in Tanzania in 1966 to a Ghanaian diplomat, Adjaye was destined for design. The travel demands of his father’s occupation allowed Adjaye to observe cultures and influences from numerous countries throughout Africa and the Middle East. His family eventually settled in London, England where Adjaye attended college. His tenure as a student ended with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in architecture by 1993. As a professor, Adjaye has taught at prestigious universities around the globe, such as London’s Royal College of Art and both Princeton and Harvard in the United States.
In 1994, just one year after graduating from university, Adjaye partnered with William Russell to form the architecture and design firm Adjaye and Russell. The duo’s firm lasted until 2000, when Adjaye left and started Adjaye Associates. Shortly after conception of the new firm, Adjaye Associates won several prestigious commissions including the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway.
To share in his fascination with modern art, David Adjaye is well-known for collaborating with popular contemporary artists. According to Knoll, one of his most popular collaborations was with the renowned Chris Ofili, who created paintings for three separate Adjaye projects in the early to mid 2000’s.
Along with his aptitude for design, Adjaye has a passion for travel and an eye for photography. Over the course of a decade, Adjaye traveled to the capitals of every country on the African continent. While at each location, he photographed each city’s iconic architecture and compiled a seven-volume series of images, which he released to high acclaim in 2011.
Naturally, Adjaye’s extensive travels have had a profound impact on his design. From private and commercial buildings to furniture and textile works, popular art and African flair appear in nearly every aspect of his creations. In partnership with Knoll, Adjaye’s free-flowing desks, as well as his geometric chairs and end tables, have become his signature designs.
Adjaye’s signature style has not only won him various commissions, but numerous awards over the course of his remarkable career. He has been recognized with nominations for knighthood and was appointed to be the Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to architecture. In the United States, Adjaye has won prestigious awards such as Design Miami’s 2011 Designer of the Year.