Tharwah Ishmail - ELLE Decoration intern
One of Tharwah's favourite local sculptures, 'Perceiving Freedom' by Michael Elion at Sea Point

Securing your dream internship can be tough, but when you do, you can reap the rewards. DECO profiles our latest star intern, Tharwah Ishmail, to find out about life assisting the team and to discover the must-have skills to make the most of the opportunity.

Tharwah Ishmail joined the DECO team last month as our Décor Intern. With an endless to-do list helping the Styling team create sensational shoots, Tharwah has been busy sourcing the latest looks and must-have products from our dream suppliers as we prepare for our upcoming Fashion Issue. Between pick-ups, shoots and coffee-runs, writing for her own blog and studying at BHC School of Design, we managed to pin down Tharwah to ask her our 20 questions…

1) What projects are you working on at DECO at the moment?
As Décor Intern I do a lot of errands, fetching and dropping off pieces, which is interesting as I get to know the different suppliers and stores that are available. I also help by doing research work on the latest trends and assist during photoshoots.

2) How do you spend your time when you’re not running with the DECO team?
I spend a lot of time catching up on my favourite TV series. I love the fact that DC and Marvel comics is a huge trend so I watch a lot of that genre. I’m new to the world of blogging so I do a lot of research and writing whether it is in my journal or online and I spend time with friends and family as they play an important role in my life.

3) Why did you want to join the DECO team?
I wanted to experience a different side of interior design; go ‘behind the scenes’ and see how everything gets done. The design industry can branch out into many options so I wanted to gain experience and learn from as many professionals as possible; ELLE Decoration is one of my favourite magazines so I knew I could learn a lot from the team. I’ll gain a lot of inspiration and knowledge from DECO.

4) What are you most looking forward to about the experience?
Soaking up as much knowledge and inspiration as possible. I feel like DECO will help me grow as a designer. I find it really interesting how everything gets done and I get to learn and challenge myself everyday with this internship.

Tharwah Ishmail southern guild disneyland
From Designers Guild to Disney World, Tharwah is always on the lookout for inspiring iconic design on her travels

5) Where is home for you and what conjures up the feeling of home?
Home is a place where I can be comfortable, safe and relaxed. I like to be surrounded in an environment that includes small groups of people, like the homes of friends and family.

6) Tell us your favourite things about winter?
I always say I love my winter wardrobe as I get to dress up. I can wear fancy coats, hats, boots and a lot of layering; I’ve loved clothes since I was four. Caffeine too, especially in winter! My favourites being Seattle butterscotch lattes and cappuccinos.

7) What would your ideal weekend entail?
I am mostly with friends and family during the weekends. Going out for coffee or trying new restaurants, watching movies or going to different events and exploring Cape Town’s culture.

8) What would you eat for your last supper?
I am a foodie so I wouldn’t be able to decide. I have a love for exotic food so it will definitely be something spicy. I was once told that all my taste buds are burned away due to all the spicy food I eat!

Tharwah Ishmail Jumeirah_Beach_Hotel
Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Hotel is one of Tharwah’s favourite examples of modern hotel architecture

9) Favourite room in the house and why?
That’s easy…definitely my room. It’s next to the family room, divided by a door that separates me from the rest of the house. This allows me to have my own personal space without being disturbed. I have an en-suite which is great. I enjoy having time to myself which is why I like the fact that my room is situated at the back of the house.

10) Best shop for décor, locally and abroad?
Mr Price Home – the prices are affordable and they always have a supply of the latest trends and a vast variety of styles. What is so great about Mr Price Home is that there are hundreds of stores and an online shop so it’s both affordable and convenient. When on holiday, I also have a habit of entering every H&M store I come across and buying an item of clothing. To my delight I recently discovered there was an H&M Home. I can honestly say that I am loyal to H&M and whether it’s décor or fashion I will buy it – I’m hearing rumours of a store in South Africa…

11) What are you reading right now?
I am reading two different types of books on and off in my spare time; One Hundred Favourite Poems and a graphic novel. I’m a huge Marvel and DC fan; I have been since I was 10. I recently started collecting them because I know I’ll appreciate the value of graphic novels when I’m older too. I am currently reading Wolverine, issue 314.

12) …listening to?
I usually listen to whatever I am in the mood for however I would describe myself as a lyric girl. I appreciate music with meaningful lyrics. I am a huge country and alternative music fan I believe those two genres have the most amazing lyrics. So right now I am listening to everything from One Republic along with a couple of songs from Journey.

13) …and downloading?
I am constantly downloading new or old music. Whenever I hear a song on the radio or on TV which I like would download. My song list is forever growing.

Michael Elion's Sea Point sculpture, 'Perceiving Freedom', inspires Tharwah
Michael Elion’s Sea Point sculpture, ‘Perceiving Freedom’, inspires Tharwah

14) What are your favourite websites for inspiration?
My favourite websites is a combination of fashion, graphic and interior design: and

15) What app could you not live without?
I am constantly on YouTube watching videos or listening to music. This is an app I cannot live without. I’ll usually use it to preview a song or upcoming movie or series, or watch interesting documentaries that I stumble across.

16) Top 5 people to follow on Instagram?
@zanitaanita – Zanita Whittington, an Australian farm girl turned model turned into a famous fashion blogger and photographer, currently part of the E! Entertainment show Fashion Bloggers.
@svartvittochrott – Annelie Palmqvist, Swedish designer with exquisite taste – browse her website.
@harperandharley – Sara Donaldson, famous Australian fashion blogger known for her chic taste.
@decor8 – Holly Becker, American author of the book Décor8, stylist and blogger.
@hayden_williams – Hayden Williams, British illustrator; his fashion illustrations are fun and elegant.

Tharwah Ishmail Southern_Guild -
A recent trip to the Southern Guild gave Tharwah lots of food for thought in design development

17) Favourite quote?

“Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has yet to come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering

~ Ida Scott Taylor

18) Best advice you ever received?
“Don’t be afraid to be creative”, my best friend once said.

19) What advice would you give to others looking to intern at DECO?
Be open-minded and ready to take on any challenge. It’ll be tough as the magazine constantly deals with strict deadlines and multiple competitors, but no matter how tough it gets, the experience itself will be rewarding and a great accomplishment.

20) What do you think you’ll be doing 5 years from now?
I plan on getting as much experience as possible in the field of interior design, which is why I take on side projects to develop my skills and get experience dealing with clients. This will I hope help prepare me for either retail or hospitality design which are the fields I would love to work in. I plan on starting my own label which involves fashion and décor, my two favourite aspects of design.


Keep your eyes on for more of Tharwah’s guest posts, keep up with her blog and follow her on Instagram @miss_quirky_t or Twitter @missquirkyt.

Also: Read our 20 questions with DECO’s Digital Intern, Lauren Wilson, here.