Bespoke retail and hospitality design is the name of the game at Kim H Interior Design. We recently had the chance to speak to Managing Director, Ehrardt Niewoudt, what makes him tick and what design trends we can look forward to in 2020.
How would you describe your personal style?
My style is something I would call Industrial chic. It’s more of an eclectic style, building on the honesty of a more industrial design style, and then tying it all together with strong elements of elegance and sometimes opulence.
What qualities define your brand / business?
Kim h is a brand, where we are trying to build on the strong principles started by our late founder – the strongest of this would be “pushing boundaries tastefully”. See at Kim h we don’t like to do the ordinary, we are not a cookie-cutter business. There is no reason why any design solution can’t have a little special element or touch to it.
What sets your brand apart in the industry at the moment?
I would say for the same reason as the Principle stated above, we add a little something special to every design. Another point would be, that we have realized, that design is not just a creative process, of coming up with aesthetically pleasing spaces. We are more importantly problem-solvers, addressing real space or aesthetic problems a client has. That is why the briefing process is so fundamentally important to us. Kim always used to say, what makes for a great designer, is exceeding the clients brief….that simple! – and we live by it!
What is the most recent purchase you’ve made for your home and why?
A beautiful and really old, messed up Persian rug I found in an antique shop in Somerset West while installing a project. I just had to buy it, even though it was not really for sale. I love odd pieces that tell a story.
What one design element, trend or furniture item can you not live without?
Texture. Anything I design needs to have texture. I feel texture is what brings a space together…..empty or furnished.
What design influence has had the greatest influence on your work and business?
That is a tough one, as it is something that changes constantly. I can’t say there is one specific influence if I have to think back, I try to draw from anywhere I can.
Currently, if I have to say, my attention is constantly grabbed by work done by Studio McGee in the United States. It has a certain soft elegance about it that really appeals to me.
What has been one of the most challenging projects you have worked on?
I don’t like to label projects as challenging, as each comes with their own. If I have to think of one where there were numerous hurdles, then some of our projects in Tanzania and Portugal come to mind. This was mainly due to logistical nightmares, customs issues, and language barriers, but they all turned out beautiful in the end!
How would you describe the design industry in South Africa at present?
Struggling, but making a comeback. I feel like the current economic climate, has sadly made it very difficult for a lot of the smaller, really innovative and different design brands to survive or expand. I know this is not the upbeat message everyone likes to hear, but personally it has seemed to me, like a lot of the new brands that caught my attention five years ago, has subsequently stalled, or even disappeared. On the plus side, however, history has proven, that when economies are tight, design tends to elevate, and creativity sprouts forward and uplifts a society’s morale….So there are good things on the horizon!
What trends do you think we should keep an eye on in upcoming seasons?
Opulence. This is still very much on the rise. The luxurious colours, the rich textures and the emphasized detailing…..I also see a bit of Retro futurism peaking its head out and getting in on the mix.
What exciting projects do you have planned within the next year?
There are quite a few, locally and internationally, but the one that stands out currently is in Houghton. We are currently busy with and will complete in next year, the conversion of one of late president Nelson Mandela’s homes into a wonderful boutique hotel and space for reflection. It’s one of those once in a lifetime projects and I am very excited about it!For more visit Kim h.