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On the couch with David

Popular interior designer David Muirhead chats to Paula Gruben about his personal lifestyle and current direction in design

David is known for his sophisticated and sexy interiors. Sumptuously accessorised spaces bathed in diffused sunlight highlighted by the wink of a candle, rich in the opulent glow of a chandelier. But as much as he adores the glitz and glamour of the industry and big city life in the Joburg he has made his home, he is still a very down-to-earth kind of guy. a ‘small town boy’ at heart. Boarding-schooled in Pietermaritzburg, when it comes to escaping and unwinding, he makes tracks back to KZN, specifically Zinkwazi on the North Coast.

“It’s not so much about the beach as it is about the isolation, the peace and quiet,” he says. “I love the beach on an overcast day.” David is eternally optimistic and proudly South African. “I think there’s something about South Africa and Africa that’s just in you, that you simply can’t ignore and it’s very important that we work together as a nation in developing our full potential.” In his work, he cleverly juxtaposes local products with imported ones.

“For example, you may find a wonderful local bath made in stone that you can mix with Philippe Starck tapsThe contrast is exquisite.You’ve got to be adventurous and give the local market a chance. Don’t cancel it out, don’t just think international. I think that’s very unfair. We should support the local market as much as we can.”

Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

“Family and loved ones are the most important things in life,” says David, who considers his design team family. He believes we should celebrate our heritage. “Photographs should be brought out from boxes, framed and displayed proudly on the walls. It creates a sense of merging. I love a room that’s full of detail, of collected items.”

How important is the role of colour in your interiors?

“I love the simplicity and drama of contrasting colours, like black and white. I am actually a very black and white person myself.’ he laughs.
“It’s all or nothing with me There’s very little grey The only time I like grey is when it’s on the wall!’ ‘This statement is not only true of David’s bold personality. but the kind of palette he tends to favour in his work “Gold is also very big this season, seen in metallic and reflective fabrics:’

Are you part of the ‘green team’?

For all the luxurious and indulgent aspects of his career, David is also very eco-sensitive.’ ‘I switch my geyser off at 6am and then on again at 6pm.The cost of ignorance is not only financial, but environmental as well.We can all make an enormous difference if we work together.’ He is a firm proponent of utilising solar power in the home, for everything from geysers to lighting to underfloor heating, and also likes using eco-friendly products, like sustainable timbers.

What is your signature style?

“Cool, crisp, clean Interiors, balanced and symmetrical. I love to work in an open contemporary space and mix it with classical furniture. In terms of sourcing. think India is a brilliant destination for inspiration and Dubai opening up enormously in terms of international shows. I have a great fascination with Chinese antiques, which I love to incorporate into contemporary spaces. It’s also wonderful to mix African artifacts with other cultural influences and modern elements.”

Reference: Live out Loud | May 2008

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