CREATING YOUR OWN PALACE

If you are frustrated with the somber ambience in your living room, the akward position of your curtain railing, or the redundant fireplace, then it is time you got hold of an interior designer, according to Mariette Spruyts from Jan Spruyts Architects.

While interior decorators engineer soft furnishers inside a person’s house, an interior designer helps you make more permanent changes which often have a positive effect on the value of the house and of course your interior spaces will, before long, ooze with glamour, leaving your friends and guests green with envy.

Says Spruyt: “I mainly work together with architects in order to incorporate the client’s identity into their home. I help to create a nicer look which will absolutely improve the value of a property. I also help architects create spaces inside buildings and enhance a spacious look.”

Her main clients include owners of lodges, restaurants and high income earners she recently helped with the refurbishment of the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation(NBC).

Mariette adds that while individual clients often approach her for interior designs, it still remains a struggle to actually persuade the client to decide on a design. According to her, people are not really exposed to this and the mere fact that they actually approach an interior designer is already a big step.

Many others, however, are not open to this new concept and plainly see it as a waste of time and money.

“Namibia is a do-it-yourself (DIY) nation and are not always keen on getting professionals to do jobs they believe they can do themselves.

Clients will tell you they love a certain design in a magazine but when it comes to their own homes, it is ever so difficult to persuade them that it is actually what they are looking for.That is why it is so important to be a good listener to be able to interpret correctly what the client wants,” says Spruyt.

The main challenge interior designers face is getting their hands on the “now” products which are exceptionally expensive and must almost always be imported from South Africa.

But, says Spruyt: “The best thing about this industry is having a happy client upon completion of a project. It is especially rewarding to execute a plan successfully and see a smile of satisfaction on their faces.”

She further notes that whereas most products are imported, the most popular design is the earthy design as Namibians are very close to nature as well as “exterior” people and items for this design are easily available inland.

Meanwhile, while a college degree is preferred, interior designers can easily make this industry a career without having a degree but technical skills including knowledge of architecture and design programs are an absolute must. Additionally, knowledge of the Computer aided-design programme (CAD) is a standard requirement in this field.

“You must have sound knowledge of building codes and construction e.g. plumbing, electricity, municipal laws, contracts, etc, as well as the ability to design and draw floor layouts and 3 dimensional (3D) drawings for presentation to your clients as well for approval by the municipality if needed.

You have to have knowledge about lighting, sound, and ceilings, sanitary ware, etc. In other words; you must know about all the items which together create the volume, flow and ambience required for the specific space,” she says.

The 3D drawings are increasingly used by architects in particular to give the somewhat reluctant clients a real picture of the intended design.

Spruyt, in fact, works closely with architects to interpret requests from clients in order to determine what the client really wants in and around their homes.

“While most people might assume that interior design is an extravagant and expensive endeavour, the latter is far from true,” says Spruyt.

She is of the opinion that interior design is infact a cost saving exercise. This is because interior designers are equipped with the necessary skills to know which additions and alterations are rational and sustainable.

She firmly adds that in this field, there is absolutely no room for costly mistakes.

“I have seen on many occasions when people are in the process of building, they are not always well informed and aware of which and what fittings as well as finishes are available and which would be the best for their specific project,” she says.

According to scientists, interior design plays an important role on human mood and social behaviour.

It is further noted that the lighting and the colour in which interior walls are painted, has a tremendous influence on the moods of people in these rooms. This is also one of the reasons why many restaurants and hotels contract interior designers to create a relaxing atmosphere in order to attract and retain customers. PF