houses, small spaces

Small spaces advice

Photograph Warren van Rensburg; Styling HL Decor

Born in Ghana, raised in Benin and trained in Switzerland and France, Diane began her career in Geneva in the late 1980s, after studying at the Atelier Hermes, the school of architecture and interior design. As the daughter of a diplomat, she has lived and worked in United States of America, a variety of European countries, Central Africa and the Far East. For the past decade Diane has been based in Johannesburg. She practises residential, corporate and hospitality interior design in South Africa, and many of her projects also take her to Central and West Africa, to countries such as Angola, DRC, Nigeria and Ghana. What’s your design philosophy? I work with a sophisticated combination of international elegance with the ethnic influences. I never do a job without African art and objets, but it’s not an overbearing Africanism. I believe in subtle use of African art and influences in the context of an eclectic, global aesthetic. I always emphasise the importance of the owner when it comes to homes. When you enter a house, you need to know who is living in it. When I visit a home, I like to feel there’s a soul and a sense of heritage. How would you describe your design style? Afro-chic in the context of an eclectic, global aesthetic. I love colour, and draw on the influences of African mosaics, textiles and art to bring vibrancy to a room. I’m also essentially eclectic. I like to mix and match patterns and motifs. I particularly like striking colours like fuchsia, turquoise and lime green. I would add cushions in stripes and florals to a lime green velvet couch. Some of the key projects you’ve worked on? The Labadi Beach Hotel in Ghana for Legacy Hotels, which was a fantastic project that took two years. I was very happy to go back to my roots in Ghana, but at the same time to bring in a contemporary, modern feeling. In Sandton, Johannesburg, I recently decorated about 20 unique high-end executive apartments in The Emperor. I have also done a lot of exciting corporate, residential and hospitality work in Central and West Africa. Your top tips to maximise a small space? I like to start with a white base, creating a blank canvas, and add colours from there. I like to work with big mirrors, and to create a kaleidoscope with them. It can double the sense of space. People also tend to work a lot with neutral colours (beige, brown, terracotta) but I like to use bright colours to enhance a small space. MEHA Art and Interiors, Johannesburg, 011-784-5766, meha.co.za