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In Casa: Meet Paboy Bojang

There’s no denying the joy that Paboy Bojang’s delightfully bold cushions bring to the world; to celebrate their release at The Conran Shop, including a special exclusive, we get to know the designer, learn about how he finds colour inspiration in daily life and receive a dose of his infectious optimism. 

1. Welcome to The Conran Shop, Paboy! Please tell us all about you and In Casa. 

Hello wonderful Conran Shop team. This is a dream come true for me and I am so excited to be stocked in such a prestigious place that is home to such amazingly talented designers.  

My brand is a miracle business that began in the first lockdown. I am from The Gambia and I came to Europe in 2015 to seek asylum after a horrible two-year journey across the desert and the sea. I was escaping a 22-year dictatorship. I was working in a prestigious ceramics factory called Stingo when the documents I needed to work there were too slow to be renewed and I lost my job. This was just before the pandemic hit and my friend offered me her place to stay while she was away.  It was here that I found the sewing machine that saved my life under her bed. I made cushions, posted them on Instagram and from nowhere, In Casa was born. I still find it unbelievable that my designs have been appreciated so much. I still pinch myself every day.  

2. There are some bold colours to be found in the offering; how do you curate your colour scheme? 

Colours are everything to me. I love to incorporate memories of my childhood and the places I have visited and lived in from Africa, Libya and Italy - it all feeds in. I am also big on texture. The fabric can be a nice colour but it has to match the texture for it to really work well. I choose my colours, then the plain cotton and then I take them to a place just outside Naples to dye them specifically for my designs. Each colour I have selected myself. It’s a really exciting part of the process.  

3. Which cushion cover is your favourite?  

I think my favourite is the exclusive Ruffle Check Cushion Cover. I love the soft pairing of those gentle spring colours and the artisanal skill to make this cushion is something I am really proud of. I hope this cushion will bring some life and sophistication to a living room or even a conservatory with lots of windows.  

4. You honed your craft working at your uncle's tailoring shop; do you still employ the same techniques at In Casa? 

I was thirteen when I started working at my uncle's tailor shop. It was up to me to bring the money home to support my family but I really fell in love with it and I was so unaware of how it would go on to serve me when I needed it the most in adult life. I think I came to know about textures, the quality of fabric and how colours go together.  

5. What influence does your neighbourhood of Naples have on your designs? 

I am obsessed with my environment. I am always looking for colour combinations in art and architecture. I am so lucky to live in Naples where I can draw from the frescoes at Pompeii or Herculaneum and the red and yellow walls of the 18th-century buildings in the historic centre. I walk around with a camera snapping up all the beauty and then I go back to the studio and think about how I can use these colours to make my cushions and give people a reason to bring colour to their houses. I want to bring joy.  

6. What was it like establishing a business during the pandemic? 

I think if it wasn't for the pandemic, I wouldn't have started my business, so in some way around I am one of the very very lucky cases. Everyone wanted things for their home and I happened to come with my designs at the right time, as they were thinking of making their homes as good as they could be whilst spending so much time in them.

The worst thing for me was not the pandemic, but riding out Brexit, because once my UK customers would buy many cushions but then suddenly they could only buy one cushion because of the customs taxes. I am so grateful to The Conran Shop for bringing my designs to the UK - now they can buy lots at a time! Thank you Conran Shop!  

7. You have been lauded by the likes of Vogue and the Financial Times; what does this recognition mean to you? 

I am incredibly honoured. I sometimes cannot believe that my designs are appreciated as they are. It is beyond my wildest dreams.   

8. As a torchbearer for fellow migrants, how important is it for you to continue this support as your business expands? 

I feel so so grateful for everything that has happened to me. Each article, each collaboration and each new customer takes me one step closer me fulfilling my dream of being able to live a secure life here in Europe, build a business that can keep employing my fellow refugees and one day create employment back in The Gambia so no one has to take the journey I did to get here.  The thing is, running a business is very tricky and you cannot just rely on your creativity to carry you through, but I hope one day to be an example to everyone that me and my fellow migrants can bring a lot of joy and innovation to Europe. I hope that I have bought a little bit of joy anyway!  

9. Finally, what's next for you and In Casa? 

I am asking myself this question every day. My dream is to make In Casa a social enterprise and to keep filling peoples homes with colourful and beautifully made objects. I have a couple of new products up my sleeve which I cannot wait to get out to the world. Watch this space! Thank you so so much The Conran Shop! This opportunity means the world to me.  

Discover our In Casa by Paboy collection to bring a piece of joy into your everyday life, plus, be sure to follow Paboy on Instagram.