No glass ceiling for creative interior designer
FROM designing the homes of the First Family to the country’s A-list celebrities Tofara Audrey Nyoni, an interior designer, is leaving a mark of her creative and stylish designs in Zimbabwe and beyond its borders.
Even though she holds a master’s degree, she chose to free herself from academic dictates, stricture and expectations, and instead pursue her real passion of designing everyday homes and transforming them into little paradises.
“I have more six years of experience in the architectural and design space. I have a Master’s in Governance and Leadership however my passion for all things design found me deviating from a career in that space and forming Dreamwalls a company that specialises in wall solutions, ranging from painting, wallpaper, wall forms, and panelling,” she said.
Her consuming passion led her to acquire a Diploma in Interior Design under the guidance of Darren Palmer of the Institute of Interior Design.
“During this period I gained experience through collaboration with other designers in the region and through travel to international trade fairs and Expos.
‘‘Armed with the confidence that my skill set and experience were sufficient to meet the needs of my clients I co-founded Angular Interior Architecture and Design in partnership. This was a great highlight in my career as it was filled with highs, lows, and a lot of learning.
‘‘I firmly believe my period at Angular served as a springboard to the position I currently hold as the creative director of Evolve Interior Design Studio,” she said.
Interior design is the art and science of enhancing the interior of a building to achieve a functional, safe, and aesthetically pleasing environment for the people who use it.
Interior designers work with clients to understand their needs and desires, and then create a space that reflects their personality and lifestyle.
This has turned to be the calling for Tofara, who has a passion for creating spaces that are beautiful, functional, and up-to-date on the latest trends.
Apart from the First Family, her clients also include business executives, as well as several individuals in Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa. In the corporate world she has done work for leading hospitals, insurance companies, as well as retail and hospitality companies.
Tofara believes that the best interior designs are those that are tailored to the individual needs. “When I am about to design someone’s home, I start by appreciating the client’s lifestyle, creating mood boards to capture the client’s vision, and then begin the process of selecting furniture and finishes”.
Tofara is renowned for use of colour and pattern. She loves to mix and match different textures and materials to create a unique and inviting space. She is also not afraid to experiment with new trends, and she is always looking for ways to add a touch of personality to her designs.
In addition to her work as an interior designer, Tofara is also a frequent speaker and lecturer. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge and expertise with others, and is always eager to help aspiring interior designers learn the ropes.
“Many people in Zimbabwe are not aware of the benefits of hiring an interior designer. They may believe that they can do the job themselves, or they may not be able to afford the services of a professional designer, but everything is possible” she added.
The availability of materials and products for interior design is limited in Zimbabwe. This can make it difficult for designers to find the right products to meet their clients’ needs.
The cost of interior design services is relatively high in Zimbabwe. This can make it difficult for some people to afford the services of a professional designer. Competition from online retailers. Online retailers are increasingly selling furniture and other home décor items.
This can make it difficult for interior designers to compete, as they may not be able to offer the same prices as online retailers.
There are limited professional development opportunities for interior designers in Zimbabwe.
This can make it difficult for designers to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and techniques.
“As a young woman one of the major challenges was being overlooked and stereotyped by male counterparts in engineering and construction who assume Interior design is simply interior decorating yet it has facets that compose of interior architecture,3D designing over and above the decorating.
‘‘This has made it difficult for clients to buy into this crucial service that is mandatory in the construction industry in Developed countries,” said Tofara.
Despite several challenges that interior designers face, that also include competition from online retailers, lack of professional development opportunities, high costs and unavailability of quality materials and products, Tofara has been able to overcome them by being creative, resourceful, and dedicated to her clients.
The interior design industry is growing in Zimbabwe, and Tofara believes there are opportunities for talented designers to succeed.
“By overcoming the challenges faced by interior designers in Zimbabwe, designers can build successful businesses and create beautiful and functional spaces for their clients”.
Her Vision is to open an Interior Architecture and Design firm by 2026 to empower passionate Zimbabweans to pursue interior design diligently. Along with her team at Evolve Interior Designs, they are changing the face of Zimbabwe’s architectural and design industry.