Ajao founded PIY in 2012. Before that, he is a veteran in the advertising industry. He worked as creative director for more than 20 years in the advertising giants Ogilvy and Publicis Groupe.
Ajao was energetic, dynamic, and extremely hard working. He loved to rearrange his living and working environments regularly. Homeware design was his savor. However, he was tired of finding tiny nails, bolts and nuts, and exhausted hammering and screwing. Disappointed, he decided to design and craft his ideal flat-packed furniture himself. Serious at work but fun for life, Ajao believed that the furniture's assembly process must be smooth and pleasant. With his then ten-year-old daughter, Ajao established the philosophy of "FUNiture" or "TOYniture" for his furniture designs. He named his new company PIY for "Play It Yourself".
It took Ajao five persistent efforts to kick off his first product to the market, two years for designing, and another three years to fine-tune the manufacturing process. Finally, his commitment paid off. His first furniture product, NUDE, is an elegant coat rack with only six sticks. It won best of the best prize awarded by the Germany Red Dot Design in 2014. Nude was also invited to the 20th Anniversary of Milan Satellite Exhibition and the International Design Biennale in Florence in 2019. The Nude is one of the most popular products by PIY and is constantly improved over time. Currently, Nude is now going to the fifth generation. After a successful product after another, Ajao finally established himself in the furniture industry. Eventually, Ajao received 11 Red Dot Designs in 5 years.
Ajao cared about providing sustainable and innovative design to the market and having the younger generation involved. So he set the goal for PIY to encourage everyone to create their own piece and explore their homing time throughout PIY products.
Sorrowfully our dearest Ajao had left us at midnight in November 2019. He will be forever missed and never forgotten.
“PLAY is not only our brand philosophy but what we believe in.”
Ajao Shen 1973-2019
Founder of PIY