Africanism recently spoke to Hanno de Swardt from Onnah Design after coming across a residence in Vierlanden, Durbanville, which received a cosmetic makeover. The client felt ‘trapped’ in their home with its outdated interior and impractical rooms which did not maximise the space available.
Can you give us a short background on yourself and your practice?
I am a qualified architect and fashion designer with a great passion for interior architecture and design in general. For me, the fusion of the two disciplines of architecture and fashion leads to innovative design solutions that not only challenge conventional thinking but also provides an alternative approach. I often refer to myself as an aesthetic ‘terrorist’, determined to win the ongoing war to create a more beautiful world through sound design principles. I find my peace in functional yet innovative design by ensuring correct scale, volume and proportions through specifying appropriate materials, demanding sound construction methods and applying heavenly details. ‘God is in the details’ after all.
I find the progression from architecture to fashion to now, interior architecture and design, a natural one. As in fashion, architecture and interiors are all about creating the most suitable silhouette, tailor-made to the client’s brief and in harmony with the site and its context. These disciplines all entertain through, and thrive on, the lovely layers of pattern, structure, texture and detail. As your appointed professional I aim to meet your brief on all levels and ensure a product with the most comfortable yet timeless fit.
What was the brief?
The client felt ‘ trapped ‘ in her own house. She wanted the spaces to be freed up and for it to function and flow better, with more light and storage and nicer, more user-friendly rooms for her boys. The family spend plenty of time in their TV rooms, so these areas were also high priority in terms of best use of space and high levels of comfort.
What was the home like formerly?
The spaces were mostly underutilised and the finishes very outdated with dark cream walls, black skirtings and facebrick features. The artificial lighting used throughout was very poor which did not enhance any of the living experiences.
There was clutter everywhere, and as a result, a lack of storage space. There was no sense of arrival upon entering the house and no green features to be found anywhere. Most of the joinery units were in desperate need of repair or removal.
Did you come across any issues on site?
The main issue was coordination between the builder and joiners in terms of electrical points that were required within new joinery items, such as the hiding of conduits within TV units and desks.
What would you say is the most noticeable feature of the design?
The house now has a new fresh and contemporary feel. It is stylish yet timeless and it should not date anytime soon.
How would you describe the style/theme/concept of the project?
Clean and comfortable contemporary, laid back, easy and practical family-style living.
What was the inspiration behind the concept?
The previous successes on other projects in terms of the use of certain colours and materials gave way to most of the design decisions made. Also the fact that we reused many of the client’s furniture pieces acted as good design guide. It is semi eclectic – a bit of old, a bit of new.
What sustainable initiatives were implemented in the design?
Most of the joinery items introduced are in melamine in colours which are clean and timeless. A very durable finish in my opinion but also budget wise. We did not introduce a forest of new downlighters, but rather opted for clever, practice lighting solutions for maximum effect.
Block out roller blinds were introduced in the kids bedrooms and kids TV room which ensure peaceful sleep, protection of furniture and comfortable TV watching. The one bedroom received a larger window to maximise natural light.
What challenges were encountered during the project?
Mainly the coordination of the different sub-contractors. Sometime it is a challenge to get the sequence of events right in order to ensure a smooth flow of the project and not inconvenience the client too much, time and budget wise.
Looking back at the completed project, what are your thoughts?
I am very happy with the outcome. The house feels lighter and brighter and one can sense that the whole family’s lifestyle has been enhanced by the change. Something as simple as painting skirtings and doors the same colour as the walls made a huge impact. I am grateful for the trust and faith the client put in me. It’s nice to see how their perception has now also changed, for the better.
Photographs: Mat Van Niekerk, Viewfinder Photography