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Laurie Owen Q&A

Text Graham Wood Photographs Clinton Friedman, Micky Hoyle, Patrick Toselli, Warren van Rensburg, Naashon Zalk Styling HL Decor Johannesburg interior designer Laurie Owen, known for her signature romantic organic style, picked up a number of awards at the recent International Property Awards, for the Best Hotel Interior Africa and South Africa. She also received commendations for best retail interior (Laurie is photographed above in her showroom) and residential property interiors. Laurie’s practice involves everything from design, procurement and installation to actually manufacturing many of her signature pieces. What is your design philosophy? I aim to create beautiful, moody spaces; to create drama, but in a soothing, calming way. Interior design changes the way you relate to certain areas. I want to change your mood instantly – take you from stressed into a different headspace. Our lives are so fast-paced these days that it is important to have calming spaces, especially in your home. I like to bring the environment in, so that indoors, it’s like experiencing what it’s like outside. How would you describe your design style? I like oversized objects and repetitive themes. My style is very much about scale. It’s rustic, but stylish. It’s not chic, high design. I don’t want it to come off as a style with huge detail that looks like it took a lot of effort. It must look naturally put together. I don’t like things to shout too loudly. My designs should say a lot without shouting. My style always says something to people from all walks of life. It covers a lot of ground taste-wise. Some of the key projects you’ve worked on? The projects I like most are often in remote areas. Some of my favourite recent projects include a farmhouse in the desert in Namibia. I’m busy doing a boutique hotel in Malawi. It’s quite different form my usual style: all black with splashes of white. Very dramatic. And Clifftop Exclusive Safari Hideaway in Welgevonden Game Reserve in Welgevonden is also a lovely project, and I’m very proud of my own retail space. Your top tips to maximise a small space?

  • My advice is don’t be afraid to use oversize furniture; it doesn’t make the space look smaller.
  • Also counter-intuitively, dark walls give a small space depth.
  • When it comes to oversize pieces, have a few. They must be bold.
  • Keep it simple and do not clutter. Take away rather than add.
  • Clever use of storage is also important. Use furniture that can double as storage.
Laurie Owen Interiors, 14 Payne Rd, Bryanston, Johannesburg, 011-463-6942,