Yinka Ilori has transformed a London park into a colourful public basketball court. Combining the signature patterns and bold palettes of the British-Nigerian artist and designer, the 3x3 basketball court is a new public pop-up space and will remain installed in Canary Wharf until October 2021.

The project’s motto, ‘be the best you can be’, aims to inspire visitors by instilling a sense of optimism and hope, like much of Ilori’s work that has popped up across the city following the pandemic in 2020. 

Yinka Ilori holding a colourful basketball at the basketball court he designed for London’s Canary Wharf Estate, May 2021

‘I have loved this project because this is my first ever basketball court,’ says Ilori. ‘I wanted to give people a space they can come and just enjoy being outdoors and being together again. I love that it’s free to use, creating a feeling of inclusivity and giving somewhere for communities to get together.’

The court design is specifically aimed at the 3x3 style of play, where three players on each side compete using a single basketball hoop. The design features Ilori’s motifs on the floor and surrounding walls, as well as the hoop. ‘Be the best you can be’, is emblazoned on one side of the court. As part of the project, Ilori has also applied his unique style to a basketball, available in a limited edition of 100 to celebrate the project. Ilori is no stranger to large-scale installations and sport venues, having designed a skatepark in Lille in 2020 with a follow-up project in Savannah. Applying his colourful signature style to many scales, he recently launched his debut brand, including homeware, textile and accessories. 

The basketball court designed by Yinka Ilori for the Canary Wharf Estate. For the project, Ilori also designed a limited-edition ball
The basketball court designed by Yinka Ilori for the Canary Wharf Estate. Ilori also designed a limited-edition ball featuring the colourful motifs from the project

The basketball court is part of a larger public art programme led by the Canary Wharf Estate, featuring over 75 permanent works by 50 world-renowned artists and craftspeople, and will host a series of tournaments, classes, and events throughout the summer.

‘I feel like my project is part of the new Canary Wharf, challenging any perceptions of what people might have once had of the area,’ adds Ilori. ‘It is a place that people can live, work, and enjoy whilst experiencing a great fusion of different cultures. I can’t wait to see people using and enjoying the court!’ §


Colourful basket ball by Yinka Ilori
Yinka Ilori playing basket in his colourful court in Canary wharf, London