Interior designer Rene Forbay is making waves after winning the Clout Designers’ Industry Days Fired Up By Nandos. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad (ANA)
Interior designer Rene Forbay is making waves after winning the Clout Designers’ Industry Days Fired Up By Nandos. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad (ANA)

‘Live, breathe, eat design’

By Adryan Ogle Time of article published Mar 25, 2020

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Durban - Fresh off the jet from Egoli, Durbanite Rene Forbay is planning her next great exhibition.

The interior designer is determined to keep soaring after winning the Clout Designers’ Industry Days Fired Up By Nando’s late last year. This year, her work will be presented at the Design South Africa 2020 expo as she continues to draw on the jewellery and patterns sported by the Ndebele people.

“I’m hoping that the concept actually comes through into the product; I want to show off the culture of the Ndebele and I’m hoping that it comes through but not in an obvious way, it still needs to be aesthetically pleasing and it still needs to be functional and user-friendly,” Forbay said.

The owner of RF Designs has remained motivated after having garnered national attention with last year’s Nando’s competition, securing a year-long mentorship opportunity in Johannesburg.

“Since winning the competition I’ve been doing trips back and forth to Johannesburg because they’re actually mentoring us on business management, which is really helpful. The last session I went to we discussed manufacturing, costing for furniture and how the market can actually afford it, so there’s so much we learn,” the entrepreneur said.

Apart from preparing for the national expo, Forbay is also working on other projects including a concept for an ice-cream display at the upcoming Durban Dessert Festival.

The designer credited her career choice to her father’s profession and an inclination towards all things art.

“Growing up with a dad who was in the construction industry and being a person that has a love for art and drawing, I always knew that I wanted to do something related to art and then I did some research and found out about interior design,” said the 29-year-old.

She said she had been in the industry for five years and had a degree in Interior Design from the Durban University of Technology.

Owning her own company has allowed Forbay to explore African and South African design in its rich unique composition.

“South Africa has a lot to offer when it comes to pattern, colour and design, and not only through that, but through landscape. South Africa is so unique and there’s so many different cultures, especially in Durban there’s so many cultures to feed off,” the designer said.

She said the notion that interior design was purely decorative and residential was incorrect, and it was multifaceted, involving corporate, hospitality and travel industries.

“The interior designer actually does the drawings for the shopfitter and contractor to install your vision of what you’re looking for, so there’s a lot more work that goes into it than wanting to paint a wall pink. You still need to have taste, so there is a lot of decorating that comes into it but from a technical point of view, interior design is a lot more technical than people think,” said the Hillcrest resident.

When she isn’t at work, Forbay enjoys a good market and shopping around for plants, evident in her workspace that is decorated with an array of flora.

“I live, breathe and eat interior design,” Forbay joked. “I love plants. I also love to watch a good movie and, oh I love markets, that’s my thing. Basically, I love being outdoors because I spend most of my time inside on a computer,” she added.

Despite challenges to the field of interior design such as the economy and relatively small market in Durban, Forbay hoped to let others interested in the field know about the industry’s growing recognition.

“It’s a tough industry but I think it’s finally starting to pick up in South Africa. On an international level, though, there’s so much inspiration you can get as well. With saying that, stay true to South Africa, stay true to the concepts and cultures that we have here,” said Forbay.

The Independent on Saturday

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