Cape Town HOMEMAKERS Expo exhibitor, Adriaan Lochner is renowned for unmistakable, luxurious and characterful interiors. We caught up with him to talk about his long and illustrious career, where it all began and what inspires him to continue creating.

Tell us more about yourself and what you currently do.

I grew up on the banks of the Olifants Rivier in a small farming community. I matriculated from Paarl Gymnasium and went onto pursue my passion studying fine art. My professional career started in 1979, where I joined the world of academia, lecturing in fine art at Johan Cairns Art Centre, as well as lecturing part-time in Art for the Department of Education and Rhodes University. Thereafter, I lectured at the Jack Meyer Art Centre in Paarl.

I was appointed Director for the Tygerberg Art Centre in Cape Town and taught jewellery design at the Cape Town Teachers’ College until 1994, when I was seconded by the Cape Town Education Department to the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Western Cape to establish the offices of the Minister and to act as private secretary to the Minister.

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Three years later, I established my own interior design business in De Waterkant, offering bespoke services to private clients. In 2002 the global stage called and I was invited to join internationally renowned Italian Passementerie, Castellano-Beltrame. I joined the company as creative manager to lead product vision and direction. During my time at Castellano, I was responsible for product interpretation and colour development for all custom-made projects worldwide, collaborating with the design team and ensuring the production of all new collections throughout 63 countries.

New collections were launched annually at the major European International Exhibitions, where I became known for my elaborate exhibition stands, taking on the responsibility for the design, layout and styling of Castellano-Beltrame’s five to six national and international stands every year, which took me around the world to Maison des Objects and Biennale des Editeurs in Paris, Abitare Il Tempo in Verona, Decosit in Brussels, High Point in North Carolina, Proposite in Como, Heimtextil in Frankfurt and Decorex in South Africa.

Between constant travelling, I also had the responsibility for new Marketing and Development proposals for international and national markets. Major clients with whom I worked included, Dedar, Elitis, Etro and Nobilis in Europe, Ralph Lauren, Robert Allen, Kravet and Stroheim & Romann in America, Andrew Martin, Osborne & Little and ROMO in the United Kingdom.

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In 2007, I returned to Cape Town and continued my interior design business, Adriaan Lochner Interiors, offering a bespoke service to private clients.

Currently, I work on various interior projects (commercial as well as residential). Lately, I work on an almost on-going basis in Kenya on very exciting projects. I design from South Africa, have everything manufactured locally, ship it over and then I go over with a team of installers to unpack and to put it all together.

What determined your passion for design? Tell us about the moment when you decided this is the way to go

I guess I grew up as a young boy with an exceptional passion for design in all spheres. Since a very young age on a remote farm, I have been fascinated by all things beautiful. Our beautiful flower garden, the way it was designed and the compositions and varieties of plants together as well as the repetition of colour and certain species. Aunt Ella’s (our neighbour) wedding flower arrangements and the funeral wreaths – she indirectly taught me about some of the elements and principles of designs. Fashion – the way people dressed. I was fascinated about the ladies’ hats in church on a Sunday, analysing it while the sermon was on and not understanding much about what the “dominee” was preaching about!

I loved visiting all the elderly ladies on the neighbouring farms – sitting next to them while they did embroidery, making dresses, smocking, knitting, crocheting, doing patchwork quilts – these were just about the only creative things (crafts) I was exposed to.

Nature was as a young child, great inspiration to me and so it still is today – I experienced every leaf, flower, seed, etc through the eyes of a creator!

Local magazines way back like “Die Huisgenoot”, “The Fair Lady” and “Die Sarie” was exciting – that was our only way of connecting to the world – seeing what was happening far away!

As young child, I would rearrange the furniture in our farmhouse at least once a month and group things together in unusual ways. I guess, my incredible childhood and my awareness of discovering beauty in almost everything, determined my passion for design. With me there was not a specific moment where I have decided to go into design – I have “lived” design all my life and this was and still is my passion and what I love most.

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What did you study – was it in this field or something different?

I studied Fine Art and lectured Art & Design for about 20 years of my career, contributing to the development of the youth in all spheres – emotionally, intellectually and spiritually and what satisfaction and joy it brought to me – so glad I could enrich and change people’s lives for the better.

I am always grateful for my experience, knowledge and background in Fine Art and Design as all creative “things” are based on the same elements and principles of design, which of course, should always be executed in a very unique and individual way.

What was your first job in the Industry and other highlights?

My first project in the world of Interior Design was to design the interior of a residence in Bloubergstrand as well as the lobby of the Western Cape Legislature. Every project is a highlight for me as each one has its own unique challenges and each one are executed completely different.

What is the most frustrating aspect of your job as designer? And the most rewarding one?

The most frustrating aspects happen when clients do not want to determine or set a budget for a project (which bring about that one has to re-do the work several times.) When clients insist on a look / concept / idea which is completely out of place for the architecture and location of the property or residence. And finally when clients do not understand the difference in value, quality and craftsmanship between mass production, ready-made furniture and excellent custom designed and manufactured furniture.

The most rewarding moments are when clients can visualize “where I am going” with a project and love and are appreciative of the end result.

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What do you still want to achieve?

To design and develop my own range of timeless, decorative table lamps. I also want to write a book about my incredible childhood on the farm, next to the river, in the valley – what and who inspired me and sharing the gift of giving which I truly love to do. I want to continue inspiring others for as long as I possibly can.

What inspires you?

Nature, music, people, travelling – all things pure, honest, simple and beautiful – and challenges!

What are some of the trends we will see in home décor and design this summer?

First of all, I need to mention that I am not a trend follower, as most trends area seasonal.

I used to attend most of the interior trend prediction lectures in Europe, the States and the UK and strangely enough, it always “covers” just about all the different “looks”. There are always the main colour trends and colour nuances but at the end of the day it is up to every designer to decide what you are going to do with the latest trend information. I firmly believe that there is nothing new and nothing old any more, it is all about how one combines it. I always pursue the route of “longevity” for all, high fashion trends should be introduced in accessories which could easily be changed and which is affordable.

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Share something you would like the world to know about you or your ideas

“There is a multitude of design ideas and concepts in my head and I hope and trust that there is enough time left and that I would be fortunate enough to be flooded with many challenging projects for these ideas and concepts to be “born” and to take shape, as a true designer never “runs out” of ideas!”

What are the “secrets” for your success?

  • To always be honest, sincere and humble and always to walk the extra mile
  • Executing each and every project as if I am doing it for myself in a very special, unique and individual way, reflecting the clients’ lifestyle and personality and a thorough understanding of the location and architecture
  • Never to force any personal preferences onto a client
  • Not to follow trends slavishly as they manifest only one particular style
  • To be able to execute any design style from contemporary to classic to historical to transitional to eclectic (suitable to every individual client or project.)
  • To create timeless interiors with longevity
  • Always working together with a design team from initial stage

Visit Adriaan Lochner Interior’s stand in the INTERIOR spaces feature area at this year’s Cape Town HOMEMAKERS Expo. Read more about the show here: