Ade A. Olufeko

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Ade Olufeko
Olufeko in Hollis Queens Studio 2008.jpg
Olufeko in Queens, 2008
Born1980 (1980)
Other namesAdéolu
  • Technologist
  • entrepreneur
  • author
Known forHumanities and innovation, Founding of Visual Collaborative
Notable work
North Star (2019)
Remember To Rise (2018)
Philosophers Legacy (2017)
Awards2003 IBM Gerstner Award

Ade Abayomi Olufeko[a] (born 1980), is an American-born designer, technologist, author and entrepreneur primarily active in West Africa.[1]

His international work in humanities has been leveraged by Consortiums, NGOs, and noteworthy personalities. He is the founder of Visual Collaborative, an American festival, and publishing platform that partners with artists, scientists, lawyers and innovators on socio-economics.[2] In 2003, he became a recipient of the IBM Gerstner Award for exceptional service during a malware epidemic.[b]

Olufeko's long-standing involvement in technology, exhibitions, keynotes and lectures at institutions such as the University Of Oxford, Yale University and Harvard Business School, has been covered by various media, such as Leadership news and Voice of America.[3][4] In 2017, his research in design and culture, led to a journey inside Sungbo's Eredo, bringing its story back into social dialogue.[5][6]

Early life and education[edit]

Ade Abayomi Olufeko, born in Minneapolis, is of Ijebu descent.[2][7] His father, Abayomi Sr. was an accountant, His mother, Olubola, a businesswoman and educator in fashion and textiles.[8][9]  He returned to Lagos with his parents in childhood, growing up in the mainland city of Surulere, during Nigeria's Second Republic receiving his primary education at Unilag staff school and later St. Gregory's College in Obalende for his secondary education.[10][11] In the mid-1990s, he returned to Minneapolis for further studies at Henry High, and for a period was a resident of the historic Stevens Square.[2][12] He is an alumnus of Metropolitan State University, where he studied computer science and multimedia.[13][14] He was named Ifihàn ìrawọ in Yoruba by his father, which translates to Epiphany.[15]


Work as technologist, IBM and Visual Collaborative[edit]

Olufeko began his technology career in youth during the dot-com era, working in motion graphics, internet infrastructure and hardware for companies such as Ameritech and 3M's Imation.[c] His focus developed into digital strategy, information architecture and software support, consulting for companies in the mass communications, music, health and finance industries such as Atlantic Records, PayPal, Adobe Systems, Bank of America, Shavlik Technologies and Target; to American celebrities such as Amel Larrieux, Ladybug Mecca and other high-profile personalities.[d] [2] During the convergence of his work, whilst developing professional connections on the east coast, he relocated to New York City, working for media conglomerate Warner Music Group.[4] In 2007, Olufeko founded Visual Collaborative, a seasonal traveling exhibition.[2][9] The U.S initiated platform draws on the tenets of socioeconomics and intersects Olufeko's vocational interests in diverse media, creativity and technology.[2] Since the launch of the platform, he has collaborated in 20 cities with over 150 artists.[4] In 2015, he returned to serve as the curator of the platform, further showcasing the work of diverse artists and multidisciplinary creatives.[13][16] Following a hiatus from the corporate environment, in 2016 he returned for a few years suspending activities with Visual Collaborative, to work as a management consultant for IBM's Interactive Experience service line.[17]

In the British spring season of 2018, London Business School held its annual business summit, centered around scaling enterprises on the African continent, the institution collaborated with Olufeko, taking place at the Landmark he moderated the socio-cultural panel, It featured renowned fashion designer Ozwald Boateng OBE, media personality Banky W., the manager of the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti; Rikki Stein, also joined by an executive of Sony Music West Africa, Michael Ugwu.[18][19][20][21][22]

Interdisciplinary impact, Keynote lectures and panels[edit]

Olufeko imparting to scientists on Visual design at American Chemical Society in DC. c.2015

Olufeko's lectures engage technology with contemporary issues such as governance, ethics, innovation and culture.[16] In 2019, Olufeko delivered the opening keynote at the Africana conference for African Peace and Development at Yale University, where he also served as a panelist imparting on topics of Innovation and Development in Africa.[23][24] In April of the same year, he moderated a panel at Columbia University on the business of art and literature.[25] In 2018, he accepted an invitation from Georgetown University and gave a series of talks and a fireside chat on the relationship of the African value chain and cognitive design.[26]

From 2011–2017, Olufeko gave lectures speaking at; Oxford University, Harvard Business School, Carnegie Mellon and Lagos Business School.[17][27][28][29] In 2017, Olufeko spoke at TEDxIkeja on Visual Metaphors and its collaborations.[30][31] He has also appeared on TVC news and Voice Of America, the latter described Olufeko as an expert who advances the cause of humanities in the creative economy.[32][33] According to Business Day, his presentations have been on innovation, multidisciplinary design and collaborations.[9] In 2016, he was invited to join other thought leaders at Covenant University discussing technology and governance in Nigeria.[34]

In 2011, Olufeko spoke in Harlem, New York on a panel about the cultural exchange between the United States and the African continent, a forum put together by the New York African Chorus Ensemble and the Harlem Arts Alliance.[35] His body of interactive work on websites — during the dot-com, incorporated ambient and African music loops, drawing thousands of Nigerian students from college dormitories globally.[36]

Culture shock and advisory work in Nigeria[edit]

Olufeko hosted as a keynote by World Economic Forum Global Shapers at the Civic Innovation Lab in Abuja, 2017

In 2008 on the cusp of the Great Recession, Olufeko started on many visits to and around Nigeria reacquainting with the region. Embracing economics of the sub-Sahara's emerging market, he engaged as an independent consultant advising with the branding effort of various indigenous businesses, getting them on the World Wide Web.[37][2] In November 2018, Olufeko was invited by a Senior Special Assistant of the Nigerian President to speak at the Nigerian Diaspora Investment Summit.[38][39]

" his expertise in technology engages with Africa and the world. Furthermore, he is the quintessential son of the soil who, even after spending a good part of his life abroad, keeps on finding ways to share his knowledge in Nigeria and with the West African region for its own benefit."

— Soni Irabor production team, speaking about Olufeko, on LTV television interview. The Punch[40]  

In 2017, his observations of the Nigerian technology ecosystem were described by Incubate Africa as an "eye-opener".[41] The same year, Olufeko's interview on prominent Victoria Island radio station Smooth 98.1 FM, "demystified unaddressed African complexes in social interactions".[42] For his fieldwork and as founder of Visual Collaborative, he was invited as a keynote to speak at World Economic Forum initiative; Global Shapers, discussing disruptive Innovation.[43]

Olufeko's public appearances on societal topics like innovation or culture has occasionally been classified with a Zen-like approach.[4][44] In the same year, Vanguard News highlighted Olufeko's business advisory activities in the creative ecosystem, citing his advocacy of African women entrepreneurs, in connection with IWD.[1] His keynote lecture at the March 2018 WordPress conference in Lagos, covered digital cohesion, societal value of interoperable systems and Big data in West Africa.[9][44][45] On August 18, 2018, Olufeko delivered a talk on Design thinking and the intersection of art and design, to a sold-out audience during a TEDxLagos event at the Muson Centre.[46][47][48]


Cognitive style[edit]

Self-taught as a digital painter, Olufeko's creative process as an avocation evolved over a decade. Inspired by the convergence of design and technology, 3D geometry, fractals and econometrics are consistent elements in his exhibited work. It explores Afrofuturism, experimental Chaos theory and Counterculture.[11] He is a member of the Society for Neuroscience.[49][6]

Philosophers Legacy heirloom juxtaposed, deep inside Sungbo's Eredo c.2017
A digital painting by Olufeko exhibited on Austin Street in Queens, New York 2011 [50]

In 2012, Olufeko teaming up with anti-oppression activist artist Ben Jones, collaborated with first amendment lawyer Marvin Ammori, classic pianist Berenika, Internet freedom activist Sascha Meinrath and D.C poet Jonathan B. Tucker, in a popup exhibition showcasing new art work and music in Washington D.C.[51]

Influences and public resonance[edit]

In various interviews Olufeko credited the social cohesion of Surulere, and places like the National Arts Theatre as leaving lasting impressions during his childhood. According to The Punch his influences have ranged diversely from Luis Barragan for architecture, Hillman Curtis for new media design and Yugo Nakamura for pioneering interactive and motion graphic work.[52]

Olufeko credits his mother an educator and illustrator in fashion and textiles, for her collaborative and business influence, she ran a fashion institute in Surulere during the 1980s and 1990s.[1] Feminine or yin related subjects have appeared in his abstract art pieces, aligning to his advocacy of women and his respect to many matriarchy figures.[53] This subsequently led to several internationally recognized NGOs on Female genital mutilation (FGM) and human trafficking to leverage his artwork.[52]

Selected exhibitions[edit]

Literary works[edit]

Olufeko served as the guest editor-in-chief for the Polaris open-access e-journal. In 2019, he designed the publication's style guide to conduct over 100 interviews. The catalog explores creative disciplines, social perspectives, and intrinsic value of the featured practitioners and how they interact with society.  This collective is said to have been designed to iterate over time as a value-add service model for content providers, academic institutions, and incubators.[57][58] In the latter part of the collective, Olufeko released interview content with the 29th Supreme Court Chief Justice of North Carolina, Cheri Beasley,[59] American author of The Laws of Human Nature, Robert Greene, and Japanese music composer Rika Muranaka.[60][61]

  • Polaris (Collective's first issue, April 2019) [62]
  • Voyager, Volume 2 (June 2019) [63]
  • Vivencias, Volume 3 (September 2019) [64]
  • Supernova, Volume 4 (December 2019) [65]
  • TwentyEightyFour, Volume 5 (May 2020) [66]
  • Grand Masters, Volume 7 (August 2020)[61]
  • Eta Carinae, Volume 10 (December 2020)

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • In 2003, Olufeko received the IBM Gerstner award in Global Business Services.[1][9]
  • NABF (Nigerian American Business Forum) Young entrepreneur achievement Award 2018.[26]
  • In 2019, Olufeko received an award of special recognition serving a judge for the Prof. Ayodele Awojobi design and engineering competition.[6]


  1. ^ Simply known as Adé, Pronounced /ɑːˈd/; ah-DAY Yoruba: Adé Olúfẹ́kọ́ pronounced [Adé Olúfẹ́kọ́].
  2. ^ For customer excellence and countermeasure teamwork during the Blaster Worm epidemic.
  3. ^ In the early aughts, his interactive design work was showcased by adjuncts in selected courses by British training organization Learndirect.[13]
  4. ^ Following the Bravebird album and its subsequent release Morning, Olufeko contributed digital design and advisory work to Larrieux's record label.
  5. ^ On January 17, 2013, several digital paintings by Olufeko were showcased and leveraged at a fundraiser which Somaly Mam was guest of honor, this took place at the Hudson Terrace in New York City. The evening brought together influencers and celebrities featuring composers such as Chloe Flower supporting the Somaly Mam Foundation.[56]


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