Q&A: With Peta Bank the Managing Director JHB, Source Interior Brand Architects

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What values does your business pride itself on?

Our passion for design and commitment to excellence. Our company designs interiors from the inside out, and provides a combination of interior design and interior architectural services. Our comprehensive service covers all internal elements from interior architecture to final decor and styling, for the corporate, hospitality and retail markets. Some of our projects include the creation or revamping of the company’s brand and corporate identity.

What are the growth plans for the company?

We aim to maintain our local market share and grow our corporate presence in Johannesburg, as well as to expand our footprint in the hospitality market into Africa. We are very well known in Cape Town, and we would like to increase that awareness in other areas.

What are some of the challenges your company faces and how has the economic climate impacted on your business?

One of the challenges is to guide our clients about design, and how design can increase productivity and efficiency. In the corporate market, clients are being far more selective and deliberate as to where they spend their money. In a recession, you have to work smarter and deliver solutions more efficiently. You need to evaluate where you can re-use certain furniture and revamp existing furniture, as well as using space more efficiently. When working further afield in Africa, we sometimes have to cater to the certain skills set within that country.  We also spend less time on site than we would with a local project, with the consequence that we need to communicate more.

What strategies do you have in overcoming these obstacles?

Well, to quote our Design Director Andrew Merrington, one has to ‘box clever in a recession’. So we offer a value-added service and, together with our clients, we question where we need to spend money or re-use furniture – or perhaps modify it.
We also, for the challenges of working in Africa, need to structure our teams to have the best possible communication skills and thus ensure the best results. Exchanging business knowledge is also important to increase, educate and uplift and exchange knowledge. 

What makes your company stand out amongst competition?

We use design to create a platform and a commercial advantage for our clients, through which they are differentiated from their competition. We also believe in creating unique solutions for each client, solutions that relate to their brand. In addition, we take pride in building impeccable relationships with clients. Often, creative people are not business-solution-driven.  I like to believe that we are both.

What are some of the success stories of the past year that you can share?

We delivered the first Park Inn Hotel in South Africa. It is a 273-room hotel which is part of the Radisson Group, and owned by New City Properties. What is important is that we delivered a three-star hotel that looks like a five-star hotel, with an extremely high-level aesthetic. We were clever where we spent money, and whilst the spaces were tight, we designed the bedrooms and bathrooms to create a spacious feel.  

The second project was corporate offices that are situated on the 12th floor of the Radisson Blu Gautrain, where we were very successful in delivering high-end detailing within a tight time frame. Again, we reduced costs by reworking some of the existing furniture and altering it where appropriate. Our client wanted a very high-design aesthetic and as a result we spent money primarily on the public/ client impact and executive areas. We had to relocate the client and their staff from their existing premises to their new premises between the Friday and Sunday, and thus had a very short period in which to complete the implementation of the new construction, shopfitting and furniture, as well as moving their existing furniture, with minimal down time.

What is your perception of where the industry is going?

I think what is important at the moment is that, in terms of hospitality in the African continent as a whole, it is the only continent where hotel occupancy rates have not reduced. Basically we believe that this is significant – not only in terms of potential business for us, but business opportunities and activity generally. Both design and business are far more socially conscious currently, and generally clients have a far greater social conscience. Where we are spending money is on green aspects, and although money needs to be spent on a building to make an area eco-friendly, there are long-term savings and benefits to the clients. I also think creative people have become more interactive, and as a result our designs have become more collaborative, offering people more choice in terms of the application of design.

How can people reach you?

People can reach the Johannesburg office on: +27 11 268 5704 or +27 11 268 5744, sourceiba.co.za