Donald Nxumalo is a sought-after interior designer who landed his big break on Afternoon Express’ Win A Home Interior Design Competition. Since winning the competition in 2014, he has gone on to create design spaces that are both beautiful and functional. Donald has designed everything from residential spaces, corporate offices, to boutiques and high-end hotels.

Donald studied interior design at the Tshwane University of Technology and started designing to fund his studies. His business, DNX Interior Design, was established in 2012 and has grown from strength to strength. In addition to running a successful interior design firm based in the design district of Kramerville in Sandton, Donald recently launched his own range of designer fabrics.

Donald is now a judge on the very show that catapulted his career – Win A Home. His story is an inspiring one for all upcoming South African designers.


Inside the mind of a young and inspiring interior designer

Q: Since winning Win A Home in 2014, what has been your favourite/most exciting design project to date?

A: We’ve had many exciting projects, but what tops the list is a project we undertook in Kampala Uganda at an exclusive boutique hotel on the banks of Lake Victoria. I have enjoyed creating the look and feel of the hotel lobby and guest rooms. Each space is unique and special as well as being named after the birdlife that inspired the aesthetic.

Q: What do you think of this year’s Win A Home competition?

A: I Iove the fact that Win A Home has sustained itself over four seasons and maintains itself as a competition at the forefront in its own category. The show attracts quality contestants that inspire us in the world of design. I have also noticed that the main social media followers on Facebook are the same commentators from season one. This leads me to believe that Win A Home has sustained its viewership and supporters. The same people who rooted for me are now cheering for these new contestants.

Q: What are your thoughts about the contestants?

A: I like that the contestants are so diverse in personality and each boast a diversity of skill and creativity. This year we have a Design Duo in the competition that comes from a fashion background and that brings in an element of fashion, how fun!


Q: The show is filmed at Eye Of Africa Golf and Residential Estate, how can the contestants embrace the aesthetic of the estate into their design? 

A: They can include nature’s colours and textures to optimise the estate’s setting which, with its sweeping views, dams, and abundance of indigenous plants, is reminiscent of a nature reserve.


Q: What is the main interior décor trend for this year?

A: Botanicals are a strong design feature. We see botanical inspired designs and patterns in wallpaper prints and fabric. What has excited me about the contestants is that they have used natural plants in their designs instead of silk or ‘faux plants’. We have also seen shades of pink emerging as a strong colour for the season.


Q: What inspires you as a designer?

A: I am inspired by the diversity of the clientele we have at DNX. I love letting a client guide me into their headspace – in that way, I can execute to the best of my ability. I’m also inspired by travel.


Q: What would you say is your design style?

A: A modern African aesthetic with bold colours for accents and features.


Q: What’s the most inspirational interior you’ve ever been in?

A: A home in the seaside town of Watamu, Kenya. The interiors are relaxed and the furniture is made by the local villagers. The building is perfectly located on the seashore and thus the views from each room are magnificent. You can smell the ocean mist and hear the waves from each corner of the house. It is the perfect marriage of interior design with exterior. You could say that’s living in unison with nature. It appeals to my sense of smell, sight and sound. It truly is as close to heaven as you can get.


Q: If you could redecorate a famous person’s home, whom would it be and why?

A: I would love to decorate for Trevor Noah. I think he’s on his way up and his story is so rich. This would be an interior full of character and history. All entrenched in beauty and strong design from my side of course.


To see Donald’s incredible designs, visit his website, Facebook or Instagram page.

You can check out Win a Home every Friday at 4pm on SABC 3’s Afternoon Express.

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