Taste of European decor in Africa

Class and elegance greeted me as I entered Pitjie Chambers, the classy law offices situated in Pritchard Street in the inner city of Johannesburg.

Class and elegance greeted me as I entered Pitjie Chambers, the classy law offices situated in Pritchard Street in the inner city of Johannesburg.

Though Pitjie Chambers overlooks buildings in various stages of blight and decay, the offices are a picture of grace and style. This is where Africa meets Europe - and the two mingle in harmony.

It's the kind of decor that speaks to the beholder. Every colour and artifact evokes an emotion or feeling. Here the warm tones of ornaments adorning the walls speak an African "language", but the European hues are not intimidating either.

Do not be mistaken, the place does not look like some pretentious or artificial African village trying to show its face in the inner city. This is a glamorous sight that is down to earth, embracing and yet easy on the eye.

The setup deserves discussing as well. Each room exudes vitality and personality, the kind you get in upmarket suburbs.

The home-away-from-home kind of feel. In some offices the couches are inspired by Nguni cow hides, but the curtains have Victorian influences.

Other consulting and conference rooms are homely, with the kind of furniture you expect in high-market homes.

The chambers have posh private consulting rooms that are rented out to lawyers on daily and monthly terms, depending on the needs of the particular lawyer or company.

Each room is generously lit and air conditioned. The toilets are uniquely designed, giving the place a hotel standard.

Why the inner city? Rose Bond, who manages the offices, says because the high court is situated in town it is a convenient spot for most lawyers.

Berdine Bezuidenhout, an interior designer, is behind the beauty. She says doing office decor is different from doing home decor.

"When decorating an office you look at things such as location, lighting, the kind of businesses that is run and other aspects. For example, it is not advisable to have white couches in a very busy office that hosts people every day because they'll get dirty.

"The brief with Pitjie Chambers was that I should integrate African with Western influences in a tasteful way that communicates the personality of this country. The aim was to create the right impression with clients. The goal was to maintain a professional look, while creating a warm atmosphere."

A study by Melline Workforce Consultants showed some companies found productivity increased in an environment that encouraged workers to feel happy. The study showed that stylish decorations made workers feel good.

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