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Spotlight: The Real Interior with Designer Nthabi Taukobong

Nthabi Taukobong has just published her memoir called, The Real Interior. Here she writes candidly about her Soweto upbringing, her once-in-a-lifetime trip to Canada as a Rotary Exchange Student, her time as a student at Natal Technikon (now called Durban University of Technology), and how she landed her dream job at an interior design company based in Parktown North that specialised in designing luxury hotels and casinos.

In March 1999, at the end of her three-year contract, Nthabi decided to venture out on her own. She writes frankly about her entrepreneurship journey, the highs, the lows and the steep learning curves. Only once Nthabi finds her ‘true self’, her ‘north star’, her ‘real interior’ – does her work and self align.

Nthabi Taukobong

Her story is an inspirational one and was prompted by a LinkedIn anniversary notification, received in 2017, congratulating her on being in the Interior Design industry for 21 years. She asked herself:

When I look back at my life in design, what are the greatest memories and lessons that I want to take forward? And how do I record my highs and lows?

She wrote a letter to herself answering these questions, which ended up being this book.

Nthabi Taukobong continues to trailblaze. We asked her about her inspirations and what trends most influence her…

What’s your go-to colour choice?

“Monochrome, but to put it more romantically, I like to refer to it as ebony and ivory – be it tiles, accessories, artwork and punchy bold fabrics, without fail these are my all-time go to colours of choice.”

Is there a hotel, interior or building that’s most inspired your work?

“The Tides Hotel in South Beach, Miami Florida by Kelly Wearstler has been a great source of inspiration and appreciation for all things organic luxe. The generous use of petrified wood carvings and etchings, along with a touch of glamorous gilding – juxtaposed with raw, natural material and finishes truly makes my design senses come alive.”

A place you love to visit?

“Anytime spent travelling to exotic destinations and left to wonder the outdoor markets is an absolute delight to my creative spirit. Marrakesh in Morocco is the best of old and new with a generous sprinkle of culture and rich traditions.”

Where do you go to spot new styles?

“I go out into nature, I am inspired by greenery, fresh air and beautiful weather.”


Do you have a favourite restaurant?

“I love all the Tasha’s restaurants – most recently I dined at their branch in Dubai and was so in love with the décor and ambiance.”

Who or what is your biggest design influence?

“It took me a long time to come to this realization but my greatest influence in design comes from the need to create harmonious interiors with an effortless balance of elements, inspired by nature.”

Any interesting projects you are working on?

“My book The Real Interior has just recently been published and I am thrilled to be watching it grow its own feet and life. It is a memoir about my life and career in design. I love that I could reach a place in my career where I was comfortable enough to speak about my highs and lows and lessons learnt and not only focus on the perfect façade of the spaces I have had the privilege of creating.”

Tell us about the above images and interior designs showcased…

“This project is a show house in an eco-luxe estate. A very poignant project as that is when I finally let go of the need for extreme perfection and allowed the simple spaces to come to life by using simple, understated, natural décor and design elements.”

For more visit www.nthabitaukobong.com.

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