STYLING Annemarie Meintjes IMAGES Dook
Architect George Boorsma has always had an interest in furniture and great design. His private collection includes some iconic replica pieces from Le Corbusier and the Red and Blue Chair by Gerrit Rietveld. He shares this passion for furniture with his partner, Lisebo Mokhesi (who actually has a legal background), and together they turned this pastime into a profession.
INK Design Lab began with furniture design and, with time, moved into office interior design and bespoke furniture manufacturing for these spaces. Today, INK is an award-winning design company that tackles office, residential and retail interior design and architecture, as well as furniture and product design.
We picked Lisebo and George’s brains to find out how they create iconic spaces.
Lisebo Mokhesi and George Boorsma, owners of INK Design Lab, Joburg.
LIGHT: What does great design mean to you?
INK: It may sound like a cliché, but great design is timeless. It has to do with the right proportions, shape and lines. It can be simple or complex, but must be relatable, and every piece needs to fit with every other piece. It should be beautiful from every angle. If all those things are in place, then great design will come back and influence trends, even after its popularity appears to be spent.
LIGHT: How do you approach a project when upgrading a space?
INK: To achieve a client’s goals, the most important thing is for us to find out how they want to use the space. It’s also good to respond to what is already there – context is a big driver. In a home, we tend to emphasise the leisure time the family spends together. It may be creating the best cinema or games room, or the best kitchen and dining setting if they’re into cooking and dining together. We focus on everything that the family needs to live together as well as they can and to create memories.
LIGHT: You have updated a lot of corporate spaces. How important do you think a pleasant office space is for employees?
INK: Working people spend the majority of their waking hours away from home at work. Current thinking suggests that in order to get the best out of your employees, the office must be something of a home away from home. The two ideas seem at odds, but relaxation in an office is about creating a place where the productive employee can escape for some downtime, or, conversely, some “up-time”. There should be a place of inspiration and innovation. Theories about office design have evolved tremendously, and the most important thinking around this centres on collaboration, technology, innovation and agility. Nothing is fixed; every space is capable of adapting to a multitude of uses and users. Technology also helps with some of the breakthroughs in how corporations can achieve agility and collaboration, getting people away from their desks and working in a more flexible environment.
Current thinking suggests that in order to get the best out of your employees,
the office must be something of a home away from home.
LIGHT: What recommendations do you have for lighting in the office?
INK: Lighting is extremely important, especially natural lighting. Where there is insufficient natural light, offices rely on artificial light. A combination of general lighting and task lighting is used to create comfortable lux levels. With global energy usage concerns, artificial lighting should be intelligent, low energy, movement-sensitive light. The lights should be capable of being switched off through a building management system to conserve energy and reduce operating costs.
LIGHT: What is the most rewarding project you have worked on?
INK: The most exceptional transformation project to date was the GCIS (Government Communication & Information System). This was a government project with associated expectations as to the type of furniture to be used. However, the client wanted a modern take on a public office. We used that opportunity to propose something different using Spazio products. The modern, light lines of the Spazio classics worked very well and were well received.
relaxation in an office is about creating a place where the productive employee can escape for some downtime, or, conversely, some “up-time”. There should be a place of inspiration and innovation.
LIGHT: What do you think are the best qualities of Spazio products?
INK: Spazio shows a great adherence to quality, understanding of heritage, and how valuable it is to continue using the classics to bring an elegance to your interior. They also carry modern pieces that are well designed. The most important feature I think is that Spazio offers a quality product, where many other competitors may bring in some of the same items of a lesser quality.
LIGHT: What are some perennial lighting trends you’ve observed being in this industry?
INK: There is no underestimating good, effective lighting design, and this is not a trend but a critical feature of lighting design. That means employing a qualified lighting expert. Good lighting suppliers – Spazio included – often have technical expertise to back their product. In offices, there is a move towards brass, copper and gold light fittings, to offer something special to an important feature. There is also an understanding that scale is important, and architects are using multiple light fittings to create scale and drama. Lighting is one of the most effective ways to create impact.
LIGHT: Where do you turn for inspiration?
INK: Nature provides great inspiration. From nature one can learn about shape, texture, clarity of design and colour. There is also something to be learnt from design in other fields such as fashion, movies, art and music. All design is interconnected and inspiring.
LIGHT: What are the key colours and shapes for 2017?
INK: Plascon, Dulux and Pantone all have Colours of the Year and this year they are all inspired by nature. Plascon’s Colour of the Year is an earthy neutral colour; Dulux’s is a sophisticated take on blue, reminiscent of the sky; while Pantone’s Greenery is evocative of the revitalising effect of spring. The trend for organic and soft shapes in furniture continues, with a move toward slim, elegant lines. The trick though is that the slimness must be structurally sound and not look weak or cheap. Metallic elements are also current.
LIGHT: What do you love about what you do?
INK: When one is able to bring the client’s vision of their space to life, that is a wonderful achievement.
LIGHT: Which Spazio piece would you put in your home or office this year?
INK: There are a number of great pieces. The Grand Confort armchair is a winner in any home or office. So too the Social three-seater. Most of Spazio table bases are brilliant, for example the Stylus, Bold and Ikon. These bases are timeless – they will add that touch of sophistication to any interior.