Interior designers take an ordinary area and dress it up, making it beautiful and functional

Lebohang Nthongoa

Lebohang Nthongoa

Dressing up living spaces is a skill that takes both passion and practice. As an interior designer you have the chance to play an active role in making someone else's space not only beautiful, but also functional.

Thato Manyaka, 27, works as an interior designer for Mzantsi Interiors. It is not a profession that came naturally to Thato. Having started as a graphic design student, she took a year off to rethink her career path because she did not find graphic design as fulfilling as she had hoped.

It was then that she realised that her niche was interior design, and she has not looked back since.

"I think the gap year I took was instrumental in me realising which way I wanted to take my career. I knew I enjoyed the creativity of design, but I wanted to incorporate my love for furniture and interiors," says Thato.

For someone who is starting out, it is important to learn the practical aspect of interior design, but it is just as important to learn the theoretical side to best incorporate all the elements of interior design into your work.

One can spend anything from a few weeks to several months working on a project, depending on the requirements of the client, and whether it is a corporate or residential project. The hours can also be very long depending on the workload.

Designing for corporate clients requires a lot more manpower than designing for a residence because those kinds of projects tend to be a lot bigger and more complex.

Once a company is established clients will approach with their design needs.

From there, as the designer, you have to come up with a story board showing how you plan to dress the space.

Throughout the project the client will tell you what they like and do not like, and you can make recommendations about what you think will work best for the space.

Thato gets a chance to work with corporate, hospitality and residential clients.

"I am getting more involved in designing furniture and I find that exciting and fulfilling," says Thato.

"At the end of the day, you have to make the client happy, and it's such a satisfying feeling to know that you have made a difference in someone's life because they have to live in the space that I created.

"In future I would love to open my own company and make my focal point design and furniture design."