what is your idea of perfect design happiness? MY HAPPINESS AS A DESIGNER ALWAYS HINGES ON THE HAPPINESS OF MY CLIENTS.
NOTHING PLEASES ME MORE THAN HAVING THEM EMBRACE MY IDEAS, AND THEN LOVING OUR PLAN WHEN IT COMES TO FRUITION. MY CLIENTS JOY IS MY JOY. THIS IS ALSO TRUE WHEN I HEAR FROM A CUSTOMER THAT BOUGHT MY FABRIC FOR A PROJECT AND THEY ARE HAPPY WITH THE RESULT. SUCH AN HONOR FOR PEOPLE TO CHOOSE MY FABRIC ABOVE ALL THE WONDERFUL CHOICES THAT THERE ARE OUT THERE IN THE DESIGN WORLD.
what is your greatest fear in design? OH THERE IS ACTUALLY SO MUCH THAT CAN GO WRONG IN A PROJECT, I DON'T THINK PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE AMOUNT OF DETAIL THAT GOES INTO PUTTING TOGETHER A SCHEME FOR A ROOM.
I AM A HUGE 'DOUBLE CHECKER', ALWAYS GET A CUTTING OF MY FABRIC CHOICE BEFORE I GIVE THE GO AHEAD TO MY WORKROOMS. MY GREATEST FEAR IS THAT A PIECE WILL COME OFF THE DELIVERY TRUCK AND IT WILL BE WRONG. WRONG COLOUR, WRONG SHAPE.
I HATE DISAPPOINTING MY CLIENTS - BUT WITH TIME AND PATIENCE, IF THERE IS A MISHAP, IT WILL ALWAYS BE FIXED!
which historical design figure do you most identify with? I JUST LOVE THE DESIGN OF THE LATE MARK HAMPTON. HE DESIGNED FOR MANY HIGH-END CLIENTS AND FRIENDS, BUT HIS SCHEMES WERE NEVER PRETENTIOUS. ALTHOUGH HIS DESIGNS WERE MOSTLY TRADITIONAL, THERE WAS LITTLE FUSSINESS, HE WAS BRAVE WITH COLOUR, LOVED PAINTED WOOD (SO DO I) AND HIS ROOMS ALWAYS LOOKED COMFORTABLE AND SO INVITING.
I HAVE A BOOK OF HIS WATERCOLOUR POSTCARDS THAT HE WOULD SEND TO HIS CLIENTS AND FRIENDS AS THANK YOU NOTES - HIS WIFE COLLECTED THEM INTO A CHARMING LITTLE BOOK - IT IS A TREASURED POSSESSION. HIS STYLE, TALENT, HUMOR AND INTELLIGENCE CAME THROUGH IN EVERY LITTLE POSTCARD.
which living designer do you most admire? IT'S HARD TO SAY ONE PERSON, I REALLY ADMIRE ALL THE DESIGNERS THAT HAVE MANAGED TO GET TO THE TOP OF THEIR GAME. IT'S A VERY BIG FIELD AND THERE ARE SOME SUPER TALENTS OUT THERE.
BEING A FABRIC DESIGNER TOO, I TEND TO HAVE A LOT OF RESPECT FOR THE DESIGNERS THAT HAVE HAD THE DRIVE AND AMBITION TO GO OUT ON A LIMB AND LAUNCH FABRIC LINES OF THEIR OWN. IT'S NOT AN EASY UNDERTAKING.
I THINK MARTYN LAWRENCE BULLARD IS A FUN DESIGNER, HE ALSO HAS A LOVELY LINE OF FABRICS. I USE THEM A LOT IN MY PROJECTS AND I HAVE MET HIM A COUPLE OF TIMES - HE IS A CHARMING MAN. THE SAME GOES FOR MICHAEL SMITH, HIS FABRICS ARE SO PERFECT FOR THE PROJECTS THAT HE DOES SO WELL. I LIKE TO USE HIS FABRICS FOR MY MORE GROWN UP ROOMS. THEN THERE'S PETER DUNHAM, LOVE HIS FABRICS AND HIS UNFUSSY STYLE. HE IS ALSO SUCH A NICE PERSON.
what profession other than design would you like to attempt? MY CHILDREN SAY I SHOULD HAVE BEEN A DETECTIVE! THEY CALL ME A 'NOTICER' - IT'S A BIT OF AN AFFLICTION! I AM FASCINATED BY HOW HUMAN BEINGS WORK, I ALWAYS WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE REAL STORY IS, NOT THE FACADE THAT PEOPLE PUT UP FOR THE WORLD TO SEE. I NOTICE EVERYTHING, IF SOMETHING HAS BEEN MOVED IN MY HOUSE, OR IF ONE OF MY CLIENTS IS NOT LOOKING HAPPY, OR WHAT GETS LEFT ON EACH PERSONS PLATE AT THE END OF THE MEAL - IT DRIVES MY HUSBAND A LITTLE CRAZY!
what is your greatest design extravagance? TRAVEL. I BELONG TO SUCH A SCATTERED FAMILY. TWO OF MY CHILDREN LIVE IN LONDON, MY MUM AND SIBLINGS ARE IN SOUTH AFRICA AND MY YOUNGEST IS ABOUT TO DO A CO-OP SEMESTER IN LA. YIKES, I NEED TO KEEP COLLECTING THOSE AIR MILES!
when and where were you happiest with your design? I LOVE GOING TO THE STUDIO IN GREAT BARRINGTON AND WORKING ON A NEW DESIGN WITH PETER FASANO.
IT'S HIS STUDIO THAT PRINTS UP MY FABRICS AND SARAH STRANGLE IS THE AMAZING GRAPHIC DESIGNER THAT TAKES MY LITTLE WATERCOLOUR PAINTINGS AND TURNS THEM INTO REAL FABRIC.
what do you consider your greatest achievement in design? INTERIOR DESIGN IS A LOVELY JOB BUT IT IS NOT BRAIN SURGERY. THERE ARE SO MANY WOMEN IN THE WORLD THAT ARE DOING TRULY AMAZING JOBS, I AM JUST HAPPY TO BE BUSY AND MAKING PEOPLE'S LIVES A LITTLE MORE COMFORTABLE AND THEIR HOUSES MORE FUN TO LIVE IN.
I DO LIKE GOING DOWN TO MY FABRIC STOREROOM IN THE BASEMENT, AND SOMETIMES IT HITS ME THAT ALL THOSE PATTERNS CAME OUT OF MY HEAD AND I STILL REALLY LIKE THEM. I SUPPOSE THAT'S A BIT OF AN ACHIEVEMENT!
if you died and came back as another designer or design object, who or what do you think it would be? WHEN I WENT TO INDIA WITH MY SISTER I FELT SO AT HOME THERE. ALTHOUGH INDIA IS REALLY HECTIC, AND THE POVERTY CAN BE A BIT DISTURBING, I JUST FELT A SENSE OF CALM AND HAPPINESS WHEN I WAS THERE.
I WOULD LOVE TO COME BACK AS A HIGHBORN MATRIARCH LIVING IN AN AMAZING HOUSE SURROUNDED BY WONDERFUL FURNITURE AND FABRICS AND HUNDREDS OF GRAND CHILDREN!
what specific design related talent are you lacking that you would you most like to have? I HATE THE MONEY SIDE OF THE BUSINESS. I WOULD HAPPILY GIVE IT ALL TO MY CLIENTS IF I DIDN'T HAVE ALL THE BILLS TO PAY. I SHOULD BE MORE BUSINESSLIKE IN MY EVERYDAY DEALINGS, I JUST FEEL IT TAKES THE FUN OUT OF THE JOB.
what is your most treasured design related possession? MY MOST TREASURED THINGS ARE THE GIFTS THAT FRIENDS AND FAMILY HAVE GIVEN ME. I LIKE TO KEEP THEM IN THE ROOMS I LIVE IN THE MOST, ESPECIALLY THE THINGS MY SISTER HAS GIVEN ME. THEY ARE ALL ON MY DRESSING TABLE - AN ANTIQUE GLASS GOBLET, A TINY DECANTER WITH ITS ORIGINAL STOPPER. I LIKE TO SEE THEM OFTEN BECAUSE SHE LIVES A LONG WAY AWAY IN CAPE TOWN AND I MISS OUR TIMES TOGETHER VERY MUCH.
what do you regard as the lowest depths of misery in design? I THINK IT MUST BE THE SAME FOR MOST DESIGNERS, WHEN YOU ARE NEARLY THERE AND THEN YOUR CLIENT GETS WOBBLED BY THE MOTHER IN LAW, OR THE BEST FRIEND, OR THE NASTY NEIGHBOR. IT IS SO BORING TO HAVE TO GO BACK TO THE BEGINNING AND MAKE YOUR CASE ALL OVER AGAIN.
what curse word do you most frequently use? DAMN!
what is your favorite design related word? VIBE, MESH, TALK TO.
what is your least favorite design related word? I AM SO BORED TO DEATH WITH THE TERM 'MIXING THE OLD WITH THE NEW'.
what turns you on in design? SEEING FRESH, NEW IDEAS FROM YOUNG DESIGNERS.
what turns you off in design? PRETENTIOUS DESIGN MEANT TO MAKE THE NEIGHBOURS JEALOUS.
what is your motto in design? HAVE FUN WITH IT, ENJOY THE PROCESS, THESE ARE GOOD PROBLEMS TO HAVE!
IMAGE CREDITS | Mally's Headshot | Samode Fabric | Zig Zag Fabric | Mark Hampton Book | Martyn Lawrence Bullard Headshot | Fez Border Fabric | Nichola Fabric | Rohet Solid Fabric | Mally & Peter Fasano in the Studio, Mally with Friends in India Photos Provided by Mally Skok
PROUST ON DESIGN | Answered by my design icons, these must-ask questions come from a 19th century parlor game made popular by Marcel Proust, the French novelist, essayist & critic. This interview technique has been used by many journalists throughout the years but my column was primarily inspired by The Proust Questionnaire, which appears monthly on the back page of Vanity Fair(my alma mater). The twist here on CLOTH & KIND is that I've repurposed each question to relate to interior design. To read all of my Proust on Design interviews, please click here. Enjoy!