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  • Writer's pictureNicola Townsend

Spotlight: Plethora Design

Updated: Oct 29, 2021

Decor and Design recently featured creative entrepreneur and head of Plethora Design, Nicola Townsend. We talked about the key considerations when it comes to designing a room, and sharing some of Nicola’s favourite things as a design icon.

Tell us about your background and how you got started in the design industry.

I grew up in Durban and enjoyed an abundantly colonial upbringing. I was exposed to beautiful interiors and classical design from a young age. I’m also very creative and art was my favourite subject at school. I left home after matriculating for Italy where I spent five glorious years. I was fortunate to have studied a degree in Fine Arts at L’ Academia di Belle Arti in Genoa, Italy. Many years later once in Cape Town, I was given the opportunity to manage the Newlands showroom for St Leger and Viney. My love for fabrics and journey into the world of interiors began and after a year I decided to start my own interior decorating business. And that’s how I started! Twenty-five years later I am still following my passion.

How did Plethora Design come about? What has the business evolution been like over the past 25 years?

My company has evolved through many phases. I started off as The African Collection where I collectively sourced and sold various interior products. After that, I then changed the name to Nicola Townsend Interiors which lasted over twenty years. I opened an exquisite showroom next to Hertex fabrics in Gardens where I serviced retail clientele. I’ve always had a home office as I tend to burn the midnight oil when working on projects. Two years ago I rebranded and gave life to Plethora Design. Plethora means an abundance of beautiful things. I offer a turn- key design and decorating service.

What is the ultimate focus at Plethora Design today?

My ultimate focus is to offer my customer an exclusive experience. I want to create stylish and elegant living spaces which surpass time and enhance their environment.

What inspires you most?

I am personally inspired by the satisfaction of my clients. My ability to read them and understand what they want is a master skill and the essence that drives me to translate their vision into reality.

What is a top consideration when designing a room?

When designing an interior, in my opinion, it is all about the space. Space planning and feeling the space are so important. Also, the environment serves to dictate the look and feel of the interior space. Lighting is also something to take into consideration.

What are some of the most common struggles when it comes to interior design?

Common struggles when planning a new interior are mostly to do with visualisation and being able to put it all together. One needs to understand the space and various requirements of the specific areas. If working off plan one needs to be extremely accurate with sizes and measurements as opposed to working with a built environment. I always start with fabrics and a mood board to collate my thoughts and ideas. I still use non-electronic mood boards to propose my schemes to clients.

Any interesting projects you have been involved in lately?

I recently was invited by Decorex Africa to design the revamp of the Gold Rush trailer on the rooftop of the Grand Daddy Boutique Hotel. It was an exciting project and a great initiative by Decorex. I am presently, together with my fiancé, building a new home in Upper Kenilworth in Cape Town which should be completed in April 2022. I am involved in a few renovations and home make-over projects with clients.

What other designers do you look to for inspiration?

I am inspired by so many designers both in fashion and interiors. Tom Ford, Louis Vuitton, Kelly Hoppen are among a few. I feel inspiration comes from an amalgamation of sources that feed your soul creatively.

Where in your home is your favourite place to indulge?

I love lying by the fire on the couch with a glass of wine just relaxing with my loved ones and our three felines! Furthermore, I also love Sunday mornings in bed with coffee and croissants!

If you could travel anywhere at present, where would it be?

I still have a visit to Maison & Objet in Paris on my bucket list! I’d love to do a whirlwind tour of the most inspiring interior places in the world. Cuba and Morocco and India are definitely on the shortlist!

Any favourite restaurants and shops you love?

I love Cafe du Cap in Newlands for coffee and breakfast as it reminds me of being on the French Riviera. I love finding new shops that have sprung up or vintage second-hand shops and book stores are my favourite! The new Nap in Newlands is great for gifts and interior inspiration.

Do you have a personal motto?

My personal motto is ‘Live and let live’. I try not to be judgemental of others and treat everyone the same. My parents always taught me to be kind and understand that everyone is fighting a battle of some kind. Compassion, empathy and understanding are the cornerstones of a peaceful life. Every person has his or her own journey to explore and discover. We are all different yet ironically the same.

Any place in Africa you’ve visited to unwind?

I visited Botswana many years ago and fell in love with its authenticity. The rural nature of the environment and the people. And the wonderful creativity and craftsmanship.

Any awards or achievements you are proud of?

My company has received a best stand award at Decorex in the past. I have been invited to collaborate with designers on various exhibitions like Design 2014. I have also had many articles in magazines on my various projects.

Today Plethora Design offers a fully integrated interiors service, from space planning and the initial design aspects of the project right through to design finishes including furniture, upholstery, window treatments and lighting.

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