By Shiree Darley, Darley Interior Architectural Design (DIAD)

Shiree Darley is a distinguished interior designer with a world of experience in hospitality design. She gives some insight into what drives her designs and the challenges of working internationally.Interior design is not just about creating beautiful spaces. Designers need to be sensitive to changing demands from different markets and purposefully design unique, timeless but functional lifestyle interiors which suit their client’s objectives.

Shiree Darley, Darley Interior Architectural Design (DIAD)

Sustainability – a big directive
The trend before, to achieve and create the perception of a high quality interior was to specify and install high-end finishes such as marble, granite and exotic timbers. But we, the DIAD team, have become very sensitive and aware that the processes used to source and harvest these materials are destroying our environment. Therefore we are conscious about finding alternative products that are sustainable, but still give the same level of quality and hold the same value to clients and the overall impression.

We design spaces to accommodate and incorporate environmentally-friendly, innovative and cost-saving solutions, which involves the careful selection of materials, finishes, sanitary ware, lighting and air–conditioning. But to be able to incorporate these solutions, we have to innovatively plan and integrate these into our conceptual designs and then follow through with our detailing and implementation.

The tech adjustment
Information technology (IT) convenience and simplicity is a really big factor, especially in the hospitality industry, where we have to adapt to accommodate the requirements of millennials, “road warriors” and vacation travellers.

Guests need to be able to get off a plane, experience a convenient transfer having checked in online, and on arrival be showed to their room in a personable way with everything set up personalised to their preference – including beverages, IT access, lighting, room temperature, entertainment and simple access to information such as news, best places to shop or eat, or happening events.

And this doesn’t only apply to hotels, but to residences as well. Provisions for remote access to homes, security settings, settings of lighting, temperature and music before homeowners arrive add to a functional and innovative lifestyle interior.

These systems are very much part of the infrastructure of the design, which is why it is really important for interior designers to be involved from the onset of the architectural conceptualisation so that all of these elements can be incorporated.

The challenges of working internationally
Developers and operators who are aiming to set their properties apart are presently focusing a lot on the millennials and high tech business travellers. To create these destination and repeat stay projects, we really have to find innovative, unique and guest-convenient design strategies.

Our challenges always revolve around tight budgets and fast-tracked programmes. In Africa, it can prove difficult to access quality contractors, manufacturers and installers. Import duties also place restrictions on design and specifications – we have to design not only creatively, but intelligently.

DIAD portfolio is proudly international including Emirates Lounges, Dubai International Airport, four five-star hotels in Saudi Arabia and Luxury Villas and a Spa in Mauritius. The design team is currently busy with new hotels in Nigeria, Zambia, Kenya and Cape Verde along with some exclusive residential properties as well as Corporate Headquarters in South Africa.

Darley Interior Architectural Design
Tel: 011 656 3058
Website: www.diad.co.za

Caption (Main Picture): Fairway Hotel and Spa.