Decorex Durban: Spotlight on interior designer Ruth Duke


For many, building up a business into a profitable enterprise is a major life ambition, yet despite an established career in fashion design which saw her running her own business for almost two decades, Durban-based Ruth Duke was feeling somewhat unfulfilled.

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It was in 2011 that Ruth felt she was being drawn towards another hidden passion in the form of décor and design.

I wanted more creative freedom and I knew décor and design was the best place for the expression of these talents,” said Ruth, adding that she had always decorated and styled the homes of her friends and family members. For me, it was a no-brainer to turn what was once a hobby into a full-time career.”

Her first step was teaching herself the necessary computer programmes, after which she landed her first project – decorating an old ‘Natal classic’ farmstyle home based in uMhlanga area.

Photo from Facebook

Under her newly-established banner, Ruth Duke Interior Design, Ruth selected traditional upholstery styles for the curtain and fabric selections in a sugared-almond palette. While this wasn’t her preferred style, the client loved the finished product and her design career had begun.

(Images: Supplied by Ruth Duke)

Although Ruth was picking up other jobs on recommendation, she hadn’t yet established herself within the décor industry. That was, until 2012, when she was invited to Decorex Durban by renowned interior and product designer, Laurence Brick, to create a stand using the latest Plascon colour palettes.

“The colour palette I received was a bit tricky, but I absolutely loved it,” recalled Ruth. “I made some bespoke lighting and a very ambitious dining table. Because it was essentially free-style expression – and without client restrictions – it gave me the platform to be as creative as I wanted to be. It was an opportunity to truly showcase my design talents.”

Ruth’s installation was very well-received, generating great media exposure which was just the boost needed for a start-up. “I won the Best Newcomer award for the stand and the positive press surrounding this led to a number of new clients. The work has just flowed from then!”

Ruth’s décor and design preferences

A modernist at heart, Ruth said she generally opts for timeless, contemporary furniture pieces that will not date for a very long time. “I also like to mix it up, my worst is homes that are decorated with pieces all from one supplier! I’m also dedicated to buying South African items.”

Art is very important to her work, as well as wall colours and finishes. For fabrics, she always opts for natural such as linens that are yarn-dyed, washed cottons, velvet, silk, leather, corduroys, worsted wools or matelassé. She is also passionate about foliage and flowers.

I want my homes to be super-functional but a bit sexy too. I am also a minimalist and definitely prefer a few, very carefully chosen pieces in a home, to dusty, layered and overcrowded spaces. I also like things to look crafted, rare and mostly include marble, onyx, ebony stone and beautiful terrazzo thrown in-situ.

Ruth’s top trends for 2018

Ruth said that there are some exciting trends to keep an eye on, such as the incorporation of bold colours like pine green, mustard yellow; bordeaux red, burnt orangey-reds and royal blue with warm metallic accents of gold and brass. For fabrics it is the textural plains such as velvets, linens, matelassé and wool. Wallpapers will include a combination of oversized florals, geometric shapes and lines.



(Images: Supplied by Ruth Duke)




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