Hi, How Can We Help You?
  • Address: Veternik, 10000 Prishtinë
  • Email Address: office@tecol.eu


March 31, 2024

Hope Allison-Oguru: Telling Creative Stories Through Interior Architecture

From her childhood dreams to entrepreneurial triumphs, Hope Allison-Oguru’s exploits in the world of architecture capture the power of dreams. Despite setbacks, she stayed true to her passion, creating spaces where artistry meets functionality, and dreams become reality, writes Vanessa Obioha

On a recent Tuesday morning, Hope Allison-Oguru, clad in a long striped blazer and jeans, entered a landmark hotel in Lagos State’s Maryland area. The venue held a special memory for her, not only due to it being a project of a colleague but also because it was here, at the hotel’s restaurant, that a senior colleague posed a thought-provoking question: “How many cakes can you bake to make One Billion Naira?”

She vividly recalled the scene. “It was right here,” she said, gesturing to a corner of the restaurant.

That question reignited her lifelong dream, one she had set aside when life threw her some lemons.

Allison-Oguru’s journey to entrepreneurship is marked by instructive experiences. Her creative inclinations surfaced early on, as she indulged in drawing, painting, and infusing living spaces with her unique touch. It was no surprise when she eventually found herself gravitating towards the art field. A visit to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, during her secondary school days further solidified her passion for the field. Upon her return, she excitedly informed her father of her intention to study Fine and Applied Arts. Wise counsel led her to choose a path that would marry her passion with financial stability.

“He advised that I go under an umbrella that encompasses all of my creative flair and suggested architecture. I remember we had a neighbour who was studying architecture at the university and I just thought about it. I didn’t mind studying architecture because I saw him always working on his board. I really believed I could be an architect and that was it.”

Allison-Oguru dismissed the notion that engineering and related subjects are exclusively for males, rather she stressed the importance of pursuing genuine passions, regardless of societal stereotypes.

“Back in university, there were 50 boys and only six girls in our class. But I realised that most of the ladies I graduated with were very good. So I found that when women find themselves in places where society dictates to them that they are not supposed to be or that they are doing a man’s job, they are triggered to just excel and be exceptional. In fact, the best graduating student was a girl.”

Today, Allison-Oguru is the brain behind Maison Consulting Interiors, an architectural company that specialises in interior design. Armed with two degrees in architecture and a master’s in environmental design, she is a certified architect.

Before setting up shop, Allison-Oguru completed her NYSC internship with the Lagos State Government. Subsequently, she worked on several family projects before securing employment with a Chinese construction company, where she led the interior design department. Despite her competence, she was unexpectedly laid off.

“The layoff was a shock to me. The first thought was survival.”

Rather than succumbing to despair, Allison-Oguru tapped into her childhood passion for baking pastries. With the support of friends and sisters, she sold her creations, albeit temporarily setting aside her dream of owning an interior design company. It took a special conversation with a friend to reignite her aspirations.

“That somewhat became a wake-up call. I’m very thankful that I had that conversation.”

With renewed determination, Allison-Oguru diligently saved funds and procured the necessary materials to establish her interior design company. Initially, she focused on selling luxury ornaments and wallpapers online.

“I had a goal. I wanted to create a name that reckons with a luxury brand. A brand that is going to deliver premium services, nothing mediocre.”

To bolster her business acumen, she enrolled in an enterprise management course at the Enterprise Development Centre, Lagos Business School. The course proved to be transformative as it helped her to strategise and rebrand her business, conscious of the role a business presentation plays in driving referrals and sales.

Reflecting on her layoff, the interior architect underscored the importance of gaining industry experience before venturing into entrepreneurship.

“The idea of working in the first place was to understand and gain the right knowledge on how to work in an established structure. People easily assume that when one sets up a business, they do so out of passion, but passion is different from setting up a business. You need to understand how to build a structure and know the right kind of people to hire. My plan was never to work there for a long time,” she explained.

As a registered architect, Allison-Oguru explained the multifaceted nature of architecture which goes beyond mere building structures.

“Architecture is beyond the building envelope. It’s also how the layouts within the building work and how spaces lead to other spaces, and that’s where interior architecture comes in. A lot of times people will ask if I’m an interior decorator but I’m not, I’m an interior architect and designer.

“The misconceptions would be that when people immediately assume that as an architect, you are only concerned with building but there are architects who specialise in landscapes, and some in interiors like myself, and there are also architects who deal with facades in buildings. All they do is facade, evoking different emotions through their building designs.”

Elaborating on the differences between interior design and interior decoration, Allison-Oguru said “An interior designer designs, builds, fixes and decorates spaces. But interior decoration is mostly concerned with the adornment of spaces, not functionality. So you find that interior designers offer full services which is what we do in Maison Consulting Interiors. We do renovations and remodelling. We do new buildings too.”

However, she added that an architect is best suited for interior designing. Providing more insights about her work, she explained how she handles spaces.

“When you step into a space, you want to think about how your design will enhance the lifestyle of the person experiencing the space. You also have to think about the circulation of that space; and how people are going to move around. I take in details of the client such as how they live, their day-to-day activities, if they are older or younger and perhaps have children, as well as how they want to feel when they come home. All these are taken into consideration to effectively design a space that suits their lifestyles.”

She further emphasised the emotional aspect of space design, recounting a client who, despite initial frustration over project delays, was captivated by the final design.

“But immediately he came into the space, all of the anger melted. That was the best feeling for me as an interior architect,” she said.

“I’m very particular about how people experience my spaces and I’m delighted to put my touch on it. They’ve come to me because they want my touch but they don’t understand how their briefs influenced my design. Their briefs help me to explore parts of my creativity that I didn’t realise were even present.”

While Allison-Oguru caters to residential, commercial, and hospitality clients, she prides herself on creating timeless designs that transcend trends.

“I don’t like to box myself into the idea of keeping up with trends. I fix myself on delivering the brief of the client.”

Later this year, Allison-Oguru will celebrate the sixth anniversary of her business. For her, it is a testament to her unwavering belief in her dreams and the countless stories yet to unfold.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This field is required.

You may use these <abbr title="HyperText Markup Language">html</abbr> tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*This field is required.