The banker-turned-designer, Noks Nxumalo invites DECO into her moodily stylish Kramerville Hush Interiors studio.
As a prime location to find the best in home furnishings and assorted decor, as well as stylistic diversity, it is no surprise that Noks Nxumalo’s Hush Interiors design studio is located right off Desmond Street in Kramerville, Johannesburg.
Nxumalo’s love of interiors is something she says goes back to when she was a child rearranging furniture in her mother’s house, as well as moments spent soaking in all the work that her father did as an architect. With an MBA, Nxumalo started off in the banking industry before deciding to focus on running her business full-time, seven years ago.
Her interior design aesthetic has changed over time. ‘When I started I was very classic, but when you start travelling you see new things and that has an influence on your taste,’ she says. Now, she includes a hybrid of styles in her work, ranging from clean-lined and contemporary to Gothic.
When it comes to her clients, Nxumalo has observed an interesting trend of more people migrating from typical suburban spaces to apartment living in city centres, which is why Hush Interiors is cognisant of the need to scale different pieces of furniture to suit each client’s style and space. ‘We have a lot of clients who are part of the high-end market, but we are finding that people are coming to us, asking us to work on smaller spaces,’ says Nxumalo.
Her main clientele comprises individuals who have multiple homes and are not unversed in interiors; the rest are a mixture of commercial projects and new clients with little experience in decor. ‘Younger clients are realising the value of interiors,’ she notes.
Hush Interiors also design and import furniture, and being based in a location like Kramerville allows clients to have access to a range of other suppliers with whom Nxumalo has great relationships. The importation part of the business sees Hush Interiors bringing in products from all over the world, and Nxumalo has a strategic office in Como, Italy, for international projects, which they share with one of the country’s finest architects. Inspired by a recent trip to Morocco, Hush Interiors will be adding a few exciting, authentically Moroccan products to their catalogue this year.
Nxumalo decided on a smaller space for the studio because she was keen for the business to grow organically and wanted to understand the market before expanding. The studio has a specific mood, which comes through in the exposed concrete ceilings and the dark oak-panelled walls. Furniture and screens divide the open-plan studio into different sections. The work of young local designers, from Gold Bottom and Ndibale, who work with the studio, is on display, as well as two original Alf Khumalo prints. ‘ We are passionate about identifying and supporting South African product designers who appeal to us,’ says Nxumalo.
AN AVERAGE DAY… starts between 9am and 9.30am. I check my emails and go through briefs from our factory, which is working on a few prototypes. July to December is our busiest time.
THE MOST EXCITING PROJECT SO FAR… was a project that we did for Her Royal Highness in Swaziland. She bought a beautiful home, which we turned into a boutique hotel.
THE MOST TREASURED ITEM IN THE STUDIO… is an Italian coffee table from Comfort Creations. It has a clean design with brass and glass details and none of the joints show.
MY COLOUR OF THE MOMENT… is black. I love its masculinity and how it works with anything.
IF MONEY WERE NO OBJECT… I would buy an original print by Andy Warhol – he was so ahead of his time. I would also purchase an original Eames lounge chair.
MY FAVOURITE CITY IS… Rabat, Morocco. There is something very beautiful about its history. It has a bit of Paris in it and I enjoyed learning more about the calm and serenity of Muslim culture.
MY FAVOURITE HOTEL… is the Four Seasons in Paris. I love how eclectic it is with an old-world gilded ceiling and crystal chandeliers.
MY FAVOURITE RESTAURANT… has to be Miss Ko. I love what
Philippe Starck has done with the interior. It has a Japanese feel and the food is amazing.
2018 WILL SEE MY BUSINESS PARTNER AND I… finalising the release of Hush La Maison, which will be homeware and furniture. We would also love to appeal to a younger clientele – people we can grow with and help grow their interior tastes from the time they leave university.
Text: Ntombenhle Shezi, Photographs: Graham Wyllie.