31st January 2016: In search of creativity excellence, individual pursuits lead to various countries and continents. Deirdre Renniers’ journey from South Africa, soon after her graduation in the field of interior design, led her to London in Europe and Singapore in Asia. Needless to say, her creativity has left an indelible mark in all the three continents with magnificent award-winning projects.

Dining in Foredeck

1 foredeck

She started her career at RHWL Partnership as an architectural assistant cum interior designer in London. A few years later, she was back in Cape Town as an Associate Director in Design House. After six long years at Design House, she became a consultant for the international branding firm KSDP Pentagraph in Cape Town, while establishing her own studio Deirdre Renniers Interior Design.

The Plush Deck

2 deck

Destiny calling, she moved to Singapore a little after two years to work with Kerry Hill Architects as their Senior Interior Designer. Here, she worked for more than a year on projects spread across Dubai, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. And the ultimate decision to establish her interior design firm in Singapore happened in 2001. Since then, Deirdre Renniers has created a name for self with her opulent design creation to win multiple awards. With works flowing with her growing stature, she opened her second office in her hometown Cape Town very recently.

Leisure Time at Top Deck

3 top deck

Thai airways International, RBA and the Singapore Exchange are leading branding companies Deirdre is collaborating corporate projects for.

Bow & Crew

4 bow crew

Johnny D talks to the sweet and charming Deirdre Renniers, who spoke straight from her heart about one of her latest projects – The Amandira Yacht!

Beautiful Sunset from the Deck

5 sunset deck

Johnny D: Please tell our esteemed readers about Deirdre Renniers Interior Design.

Deirdre Renniers: We are a small interior design studio working in the leisure, hospitality, and commercial sectors with projects spread across Asia and Africa. Having worked extensively in Asia, we have creative experience in a variety of interior design disciplines, countries, and cultures. Our approach is multidisciplinary, covering all the design aspects of a given project from interior design to furniture, product, and branding.
I established the design studio in Singapore in 2001 after working for Kerry Hill Architect in Singapore. We have recently set up a second studio in Cape Town, South Africa, where we are working on the procurement of hospitality and residential projects in the region.

Dining in Comfort

6 dining

JD: What are the various projects your firm is busy with, in different cities and countries?

DR: We have just completed an apartment renovation in Amsterdam. We are also currently working on a large townhouse renovation in Amsterdam.

Fine Dining Ambience

7 dining

We have recently opened a studio in Cape Town, South Africa, and are providing design proposals for various projects, including a residential project, a restaurant, and collaboration work on a resort.

JD: When the client states the brief to an architect-designer in the first meeting, what really goes in a designer’s mind

DR: Unless he or she is an expert in his industry, such as a hospitality or F&B professional, the client sometimes has fantastic ideas that need to be toned down. Sometimes their ideas are unrealistic, and the designer is wondering how much work it will take to show this to the client. The important task for the designer is not to squelch the customer’s enthusiasm. So while you are thinking, “What the heck!”, you have to be positive and excited as well!

Deck Plan

plan and elevation

JD: What were the major challenges faced by you while designing the “Amandira” project?

DR: There were no accurate plans. The boat was built by local craftsmen literally in the jungle. We had to work from the original master plans completed by the naval architect, and then visit the boat and take site measurements. Because the vessel is curved, both vertically and horizontally, it was tough to determine the measurements accurately. The vessel was also not symmetrical.

Guest Bedroom

9 guest bedroom

We had to make allowances for all the mechanical and operational equipment that a typical interior project would not have. Storage had to be very well considered. We had to make sure that none of the interior fittings and fixed furniture would rattle or flap during sailing, so all locks and hinges had to be specially specified or designed. All furniture and accessories were designed so that they would stay in place.

JD: How difficult and different it is to design a yacht from restaurants or residences as a designer?

DR: It is very different. A boat needs to function as a sailing vessel, meaning that it will be moving most of the time and will be leaning to one side more that the other.
Comfort has to be balanced with practicality, and all the fittings need to be robust. All surfaces require a lipped edge to prevent items from sliding off, and storage cabinets need to be designed so that the contents are held in place. Every available space needs to be considered for storage. Safety is a very important factor.

Guest Washroom

10 g b

JD: From the designing stage to completion of the project, what was the time period taken by your firm?

DR: It took us 14 months from conceptual design to the completion.

Cabin + Bath

11 cabin bath

JD: What was the approximate cost of the project?

DR: I do not know what the total cost of the project was. We did not have a budget to work with. However, the cost of building the boat became much higher than expected, so the interior design budget had to be tightly managed. As a result, we had to reconsider some design selections.

Cozy Guest Cabin

12 guest cabin

JD: What is the total area of the project?

DR: The yacht is a 52m yacht. The interior spaces comprise approximately 200 sq m (excluding deck area).

Close-up of Guest Cabin

13 guest cabin

JD: How would you describe the ‘Elegance of Design’ of Amandira project from a designer’s perspective?

DR: I think Amandira is one of the most beautiful yachts. The timber construction of the boat is absolutely beautiful. The boat is exquisitely handcrafted in the traditional Indonesian boat-building method, known as ‘Pinisi’. The interior design is a combination of the allure of this traditional Indonesian sailing vessel and a luxury Asian resort style, and is in keeping with the Aman luxury brand.
All the aspects of design, such as lighting fixtures, fittings, and custom furniture are seamlessly integrated so that the whole experience is consistent and alluring.

Stern + Bedroom View

14 stern bedroom view

JD: Every designer leaves behind their signature style in each project they design. What is your Signature Style?

DR: I am not sure what my style would be called. It is a simple modern Asianesque style that kind of just happened over time. I believe it is crucial to create a sense of belonging – cultural or historical – into the interior space, and that every location should be approached uniquely. I always try to create an experience.

Plush Lounge

15 lounge

JD: What is your favorite color and why?

DR: My interiors are always neutral with very subtle color tones. I never introduce bright colors, unless it is a corporate project. My favorite color is green. I love working with natural shades of green or colors with green undertones.

Day Bed

16 day bed

JD: You are known as an ‘Environmental Designer’. Please enlighten for our esteemed readers about it.

DR: I often work with branding agencies on corporate identity projects. In this context, I would be called an environmental designer. I am contracted to design the environment relating to the branding project. For example, if there is a branding (or rebranding) project involving an airline or corporation, then I would work on the lounges, office or retail spaces – the related ‘environments’ – as part of the overall visual identity system.

17 lounger

JD: ‘Sustainability’ has become mandatory in project designing worldwide. Architects and interior designers are going beyond to incorporate and achieve the unexpected. Please specify 5 major ‘Sustainability’ characteristics in this project.

DR: The entire boat is built from Teak timber. The timber had to be certified and stamped as ethically sourced wood. This was, however, not part of our scope.

Master Cabin

18 master cabin

The yacht is run ‘off the grid’ so to speak, so it generates its own power and the water consummation and waste is meticulously managed.
All the interior finishes selected are natural finishes, either made in a traditional Indonesian style or inspired by this style. All accessories and artworks were sourced in Indonesia and made by local artisans.

JD: Please enlighten our esteemed readers about the intricacies involved in winning awards one after another with your firm’s design creations and reputation.

DR: We do not win the awards, the projects do. Although designers spend a lot of time and effort creating a beautiful interior, there are many other contributors to the end result, such as the architect, lighting designer, landscape architect, project manager, client input, etc. The entire team (the designers, contractors, suppliers and everyone involved) contributes to the project’s success. A beautiful design will not be beautiful if it is not executed well, and a project will not win an award if it does not function well (smiles).

Beauty in Elegance

19 master cabin

JD: How would you describe Deirdre Renniers as a professional and a person?

DR: I take my job very seriously and always tend to become very attached to my projects. I have had feedback that I am calm and organized. I do not always feel this way though, but it is good to know that I come across that way (smiles).
I love working with people and I think I have an excellent rapport with my team and consultants. I am very scrupulous about the quality of work that goes out.

Amandira Sailing

20 sailing in open sea

Image Courtesy: The Designer

JD: Please mention Major Awards won recently by your firm and you along with Project’s Name.

DR: They are:
1. For Shangri-La Chi Spa, Bangkok:

  • The 2010 Global Traveller Magazine, US – Top 10 Best Spas in the World (Ranked 2nd);
  • Travel+Leisure Magazine – Top 10 World’s Best Spas in Asia Pacific, Africa, and the Middle East;
  • 2006 The Ultimate Spa Guide, Singapore – The Best New Spa;
  • 2005 Baccarat Asia Spa Awards – Urban Spa of the Year & Spa Interior of the Year.

2. For Tea Trails:

  • Trip Advisor Traveler’s Choice 2012 Awards – Winner Best All Inclusive Resort, Asia;
  • Trip Advisor Traveler’s Choice 2010 Awards – Top 10 All-Inclusive Resorts in the World & Top 10 Luxury Hotels in Asia.

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