Nigerian creative Slawn brings his signature playful style to the design of the 2023 Brit Awards
Inspired by his upbringing and a sense of community in the creative industry, Slawn designs a slick and playful award honouring artists around the world.
- Roz Jones
- 25 November 2022
London-based designer Olaolu Slawn has become the latest artist to create his own interpretation of the the Brit Awards trophy. Announced on Thursday, the Nigerian trailblazer joins the ranks of familiar names such as Dame Vivienne Westwood, Tracey Emin and Anish Kapoor. Slawn, as he’s known, has enjoyed a meteoric rise to cult-fame since leaving university in 2019 – the year that architect Sir David Adjaye designed the iconic hourglass trophy. Damian Christian, Chair of the 2023 Brit Awards, says in a statement that “Slawn’s work is incredible and powerful, and we’ve been blown away by what he has created.” The trophies are set to be presented on 11 February 2023 at the O2 Arena in London.
In his short creative career, the 22-year-old has worked with the likes of Virgil Abloh on Lagos-based skate collective 9EN and Mercury Prize-winning musician Skepta, as well as recently exhibiting his own show titled On A Darker Note. Commenting on the announcement, Slawn says: “I’m overjoyed and honoured to have been chosen. It is an incredible privilege to have the opportunity to take part in this celebration of fellow creatives.” The annual celebration of British culture, which has been running since 1997, is famed for its unexpected collaborations and off-the-wall production. It is undoubtedly one of the biggest nights in the music calendar.
This year’s award design sees the traditional helmet removed in favour of showcasing three different facial expressions which Slawn says is his way of “thanking The Brits for providing me with this opportunity”. Conceptually, the design embodies the “hats off to you” spirit that Slawn feels towards the Brits for their contribution to British creativity. The celebration is, in his words, a “genuine testament to the richness of talent-making and producing music both in this nation and throughout the world.” And of the decision to have three heads, Slawn notes that it “meant that I could create an award that shows a different perspective at every angle”.
The slim bronze figures are crowned with cartoonish heads showing off the signature cheeky style that earned him recognition from designer Samuel Ross, Frank Ocean and the late Virgil Abloh. This mixture of playfulness and refinement illustrates how conscious the designer is of “the narrow line I tread between conventional art and the entertainment industry,” he says. The bronze detail is a reference to the bronze sculptures that Slawn grew up surrounded by in Lagos. “I also wanted to commemorate and incorporate my roots into the design,” he says.
With Slawn’s unique design and the new schedule, this year’s celebration is already set to be a night of firsts. And for the designer, it just goes to show what is possible when creative communities come together. “I hope,” he adds, “that in creating this award this is just the start of my journey in providing more opportunity for young people to realise that these achievements are possible with the right support.”
GallerySlawn: Brit Awards trophy (Copyright © Brits, 2022)
Slawn: Brit Awards trophy (Copyright © Brits, 2022)
About the Author
Roz (he/him) joined It’s Nice That for three months as an editorial assistant in October 2022 after graduating from Magazine Journalism and Publishing at London College of Communication. He’s particularly interested in publications, archives and multi-media design.