decor, inspiration, Interviews

q&a: five minutes with designer-decorator dicey du toit

Greg Cox/Bureaux

After moving to Port Elizabeth from Paarl, architectural heritage specialist Dicey du Toit delighted in the opportunity to experiment with colour, paint, fabric, flooring and greenery in her new space – Dicey and husband Tom’s former home, an all-white Bauhaus abode, had been ‘all about clean spaces, minimalism and no clutter’. To express her instinctive penchant for colour and texture, she opened a decor and interior-design practice in PE’s Richmond Hill called The Collection Studio. We chatted to her about the store.

Designer-decorator Dicey du Toit.

Tell us about The Collection Studio: what inspired you to open this particular store in this particular place?

We moved [to Port Elizabeth] because of Tom’s business. While we were renovating our [new] home I decided that I was going to design and make my own furniture range to fill this house, using textiles that I love and designs that I treasure. I had been thinking about doing this while we were still living in our previous house in Paarl, but I was just too busy with other things.

Can you describe a typical day in running your business?

We normally divide the day between interior and product design. I am doing renovation projects as well, because I still love fixing old buildings. Between Kim Slabbert, our interior designer, and myself, we run around a lot. Luckily we have an interior design third-year student, Angelique Basson, also helping out now.
A tranquil conservatory in the home of designer-decorator Dicey and husband Tom du Toit in Walmer, Port Elizabeth, makes allowance for a profusion of plants in summertime. It’s also the perfect space for a painting by Shany van den Berg, which hangs next to a chair that was made by the couple’s art-curator daughter Magdaleen. The floor tiles are from House of Tiles.

We love your elegant new sidetables, bench-like sofas and Optimistic Kassie – can you tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind these pieces?

I must tell you, I love them all. The whole range was inspired by my passion for plants and shapes and, of course, architecture and art. The range is a combination of Mid-Century Modern with a softer touch. The Optimistic Kassie was designed by us in about an hour. I did a lot of research on what was shown at Milan Design Week. Furniture is not only furniture any more, but also works of art. My love for linen and art came in with Anico Mostert, a super young artist in Cape Town, who did the artworks for our linen prints. The sidetables were inspired by nature: soft flowing lines, and delicate.
In the formal lounge, the choice of blues and greens was influenced by the abode’s natural surroundings, and complements the soft, muted tones of the house. The sofa, ottomans and mohair rug were designed and made by The Collection Studio and the cushions are from Evolution.

What are your favourite international destinations for design inspiration?

Italy, Spain and Zanzibar.

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In Italy and Spain it is the life, lifestyle, a combination of old and new, the architecture, and fashion. Zanzibar is just honest, and Stone Town is a combination of the most beautiful colours and textures in the world, I think. Not to mention the architecture!

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What’s the easiest way to update a home’s interiors?

Begin with what you love in your home. Always remember that it is yours and YOU live there. Give it your own identity. Updating your interior begins with new wall colours. Move your furniture around so that you have a summer house and a winter house. Always see that what you buy can work all over in your home. Some pieces move from my bedroom to the lounge to the sun room, and so on. Bring in plants, and if you can, use beautiful handmade tiles – even if it is just a small space like an entrance hall.

Who are your favourite local designers?

Laduma Ngxokolo for his incredible work with mohair (and he is from Port Elizabeth!).

ALSO READ: Body of work: Laduma Ngxokolo

I love the work that the younger generation is doing and it is always a privilege to work with them. That is why I am so excited about The Collection Studio moving into Apartment 2B with The Urbanative, Mash. T Design studio and Monique Vee at 99 Juta.

ALSO READ: Think pink: Dokter and Misses share their vision for 99 Juta

Pieces that are available from Dicely du Toit's store the The Collection Studio.

What’s your favourite room in your own home, and why?

In summer, the sun room. It looks out onto the valley and there is an enormous tree next to it so you see the leaves and it feels as if it is almost in the house. And in winter: the lounge and kitchen. Warm colours, soft furnishings; we kuier there. Tom loves cooking, so we chat and have a glass of wine.

If money were no object, what would you treat yourself to?

I would love anything designed by India Mahdavi and I would definitely have a holiday home designed by Studio Mumbai! Pick up the October #HLIndoorOutdoor2018 issue a full tour of Dicey's Port Elizabeth home. 
A cane armchair bought from a Malawian in PE breaks from the velvet formality in the living area. Alongside is an heirloom cabinet made for Dicey’s Italian grandmother by Italian prisoners of war during WWII.