A special place

A special place


Interior design is booming in Africa right now, and some of the hottest designs in the world are being birthed straight out of the Cradle of Life. Luke Thomas talks to Lynne Blumberg about knowing what a client wants

Which projects do you find most inspirational?

I think it would be those where, we, as designers are allowed to design around the client. We provide bespoke furniture design and rarely buy in, so being able to design a project down to the dining room chairs is important to us. Clients want something unique, whether it’s a restaurant, hotel, office or home, so we take their brief and get creative. I take pride in knowing what a client wants before they do.

Have client expectations of an interior design service changed over recent years?

Yes – definitely. People are far more educated in interior design. Innovations such as Pinterest and the sheer volume of high-street interior design shops mean that people are more aware of styles and trends than ever before. Everyone is an amateur designer. This means that clients now have far higher expectations. It makes work more challenging but more rewarding, as they want perfection every time – something we always provide. They want to feel special.

What are the biggest challenges you face when taking on a residential design commission?

One of the biggest challenges has to be a client’s emotional ties to the project. When it comes to commercial projects such as a hotel or a retail establishment, clients are a lot less attached to the building so everything unusually follows the intended plan.

With residential properties however, the whole project means so much more to the client. Back in the day, clients would demand that we sent fabric swatches to their family members in various different countries so they can have a say too. I had to put my foot down on that and now I insist that only household residents get a say in the design plans.

Getting the right balance when creating a room for a couple is also a challenge. You have two people that are very much emotionally and spiritually linked but doubtless have plenty of differences in opinion. It’s important to show a couple how they can compromise on their desires for the project to help it suit both parties.

The reveal is such an emotional experience for clients. We don’t let them see the project during its creation stage – they have to stay elsewhere if it’s their home. Once complete we do a blindfolded reveal, and let me tell you, when we really hit the nail on the head, there isn’t a dry eye in the room. People think of interior design as a shallow thing, but it really isn’t.

You can change people’s lives with good design, and we do so with every project. It’s an enormous feat to create someone’s special place.

What does 2019 hold in store?

We’ll be doing a lot of work in Africa. We have a golf club in Botswana, a game lodge in Tanzania and a residence in Mozambique coming up and I’m very excited to get started on them. There really is a big demand for interior design in Africa at the moment.

What style advice would you give to readers of abode2?

Don’t be afraid of colour. There’s too much grey in the world already. If you’re going to use a designer you have to open up to them and get them to open up to you. Don’t put a wall around them. Give them your ideas but give them licence to roam.

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