Establishing an interior design company is a daunting undertaking for even the most talented professionals as it can prove challenging trying to stand out as a key player. In the past 17 years, Decorex Durban – sponsored by Plascon – has provided a much-needed boost for local careers, and this year’s exhibition, taking place at the Durban Exhibition Centre from 21 to 25 March should prove no different. There are many companies who have found Decorex to be extremely beneficial, we talk to two from Durban – namely Ruth Duke Interior Design and Redesign Interiors.
RUTH DUKE INTERIOR DESIGN
For many, building up a business into a profitable enterprise is a major life ambition, yet despite an established career in fashion design which saw her running her own business for almost two decades, Durban-based Ruth Duke was feeling somewhat unfulfilled. It was in 2011 that Ruth felt she was being drawn towards another hidden passion in the form of décor and design.
“I wanted more creative freedom and I knew décor and design was the best place for the expression of these talents,” said Ruth, adding that she had always decorated and styled the homes of her friends and family members. “For me, it was a no-brainer to turn what was once a hobby into a full-time career.”
Her first step was teaching herself the necessary computer programmes, after which she landed her first project – decorating an old ‘Natal classic’ farmstyle home based in uMhlanga area. Under her newly-established banner, Ruth Duke Interior Design, Ruth selected traditional upholstery styles for the curtain and fabric selections in a sugared-almond palette. While this wasn’t her preferred style, the client loved the finished product and her design career had begun.
Although Ruth was picking up other jobs on recommendation, she hadn’t yet established herself within the décor industry. That was, until 2012, when she was invited to Decorex Durban by renowned interior and product designer, Laurence Brick, to create a stand using the latest Plascon colour palettes.
“The colour palette I received was a bit tricky, but I absolutely loved it,” recalled Ruth. “I made some bespoke lighting and a very ambitious dining table. Because it was essentially free-style expression – and without client restrictions – it gave me the platform to be as creative as I wanted to be. It was an opportunity to truly showcase my design talents.”
Ruth’s installation was very well-received, generating great media exposure which was just the boost needed for a start-up. “I won the Best Newcomer award for the stand and the positive press surrounding this led to a number of new clients. The work has just flowed from then!”
Ruth’s décor and design preferences
A modernist at heart, Ruth said she generally opts for timeless, contemporary furniture pieces that will not date for a very long time. “I also like to mix it up, my worst is homes that are decorated with pieces all from one supplier! I’m also dedicated to buying South African items.”
Art is very important to her work, as well as wall colours and finishes. For fabrics, she always opts for natural such as linens that are yarn-dyed, washed cottons, velvet, silk, leather, corduroys, worsted wools or matelassé. She is also passionate about foliage and flowers.
“I want my homes to be super-functional but a bit sexy too. I am also a minimalist and definitely prefer a few, very carefully chosen pieces in a home, to dusty, layered and overcrowded spaces. I also like things to look crafted, rare and mostly include marble, onyx, ebony stone and beautiful terrazzo thrown in-situ.”
Ruth’s top trends for 2018
Ruth said that there are some exciting trends to keep an eye on, such as the incorporation of bold colours like pine green, mustard yellow; bordeaux red, burnt orangey-reds and royal blue with warm metallic accents of gold and brass. For fabrics it is the textural plains such as velvets, linens, matelassé and wool. Wallpapers will include a combination of oversized florals, geometric shapes and lines.
Owner of Westville-based Redesign Interiors and recently appointed CEO of the African Institute of Interior Design (IID), Paige Waplington, found Decorex Durban provided her organisation with much-needed brand recognition.
“Decorex perfectly positions you with other design industry leaders, explained Waplington. “You are exhibiting next to other designers who are top of their game and this sets you up as a respected designer. Even if you don’t come out the show with a client straight away, the benefit of mingling with the industry influencers and engaging in meaningful conversations is priceless. You are only improving yourself and your business by being a part of the show.”
Waplington, who will feature as this year’s Decorex Designer Spotlight, has participated at Decorex Durban for the past four years in a number of design features which earned her several ‘Design Excellence’ Awards. However, she notes that her participation in 2017 was the most influential.
“Last year we focused on building relationships with our clients when they visited our stand,” explained Waplington. “We made sure we had conversations with them about their plans and how we could help them achieve their dream homes or corporate spaces. Our stand was quite ‘out there’ with our very bold and bright ohsosa wallpaper, so we attracted quite a lot of interest.”
Redesign Interiors emerged from the show with five new clients offering great renovation and new build projects as well as a number of other smaller projects.
“We now have continued recognition at the show,” said Waplington. “Clients expect to see us there and remember us from previous shows.”
Paige’s tips to Decorex Durban exhibitors
1. Make sure you make use of all Decorex Durban’s extra offerings, like the competitions and extra marketing exposure.
2. Have a game plan. Know what questions you are going to ask potential clients and have a quick and easy way of keeping track of leads.
3. On your lead’s list makes notes of clients that will help you remember who they are, like ‘he was wearing a funky hat’. It makes it much easier to remember the person after the show and ensures you have a personal follow-up conversation with them.
4. Run a competition on your stand to create a database.
5. Be friendly and have fun!
Sian Cullingworth, Portfolio Director: Design, Lifestyle and Retail Exhibitions, said these stories perfectly reflected the role of Decorex within the décor and design industry. “An individual might have amazing talent, but it can be extremely difficult breaking into the market and establishing a worthwhile reputation without a platform such as Decorex. The exhibition creates the ideal space and platform for networking and brand exposure, at the venue and even further down the line. We’re excited to be giving designers another opportunity like this at the 2018 edition.”
To check out the latest in décor, design and lifestyle trends and inspiration where you’re sure to find your #rhythmoflife, visit Decorex Durban, sponsored by plascon.
21 – 25 March 2018
21 – 24 March: 10am – 8pm
25 March: 10am – 6pm
Durban Exhibition Centre
Tickets: Buy Now
Adults – R 95
Student/Pensioners – R80
Kids U12 – R20