Mali Langa: A Maximalist Designer’s Guide to Styling Luxury Interiors

Rarity. Craftsmanship. Art. Great expense. These are words that should immediately pop into the mind of a designer when presented with the task of creating luxury spaces.

Luxury living room designed in shades of blue
Luxury spaces, among other things, require time and skill. Image courtesy of NeONBRAND on Unsplash

My personal approach to luxury dances to the tune of a maximalist modern design. As a whole, eclectic choices interact with a bold mix of colour, pattern, and texture. Beautifully crafted pieces are thoughtfully curated through contrast, layering and collection – without cluttering – to reveal the designer and the stylist’s artful composition of creativity.

Space, a luxury necessity

The concept of luxury interior design can be achieved by bringing together various styles. This is what drives contemporary luxury interior styling and what keeps the beat drumming in my creative soul! But we must always remember, selection and editing are our golden guidelines to avoid overdoing it.

A foyer displaying luxury
Modern luxury designs feature grand spaces. Image courtesy of Mali Langa

All interior design begins with the raw architecture. Inspired by age-old trends, today’s luxury interiors feature the grandness of double volume space. Expansiveness in itself is a luxury of the modern age where living space is at a premium. Vast and high ceilings connected by stylised pillars are the structural elements that deliver the drama. Inserting detail, along with the updating of modern twists to wall-beading (wainscoting), pilasters and light-reflective colour schemes, are already in themselves representations of the height of luxury.

Calling Culture

The Victorian era saw interior design become something quite exciting! As the world became smaller, rare and precious art, furniture and objéts – like sculptures – from far off cultures started making their way into affluent homes, becoming the new definition of luxury.

And I find that this trend is part of the way we assemble designs today. I am inspired by interiors I encounter from different corners of the globe and bringing them together to create magic, whilst having them speak of their own heritage in new and interesting ways.

A simple living room displaying opulence and a large wall art
Luxury designs are usually a combination of art from different cultures. Image courtesy of Mali Langa

We see warmer colours like reds from the Orient and orange and yellow from Asia existing with traditional furniture and multi-cultural accessories. This reviving Victorian trend plays up to rarity and authentic craftsmanship and is often the blueprint for gentleman dens and libraries in stately homes and, as such, does not lend itself to small spaces.

A return to Craft

The element of master-craftsmen honing their skills by hand and passing down traditions certainly imbues traditionally manufactured goods with greater value than commercially industrialised and mass-produced products. For one, it requires time and, secondly, these are dying skills.

Handcrafted armoire
Handcrafted pieces requiring a great deal of time and skill are important in luxury designs. Image courtesy of Mali Langa

Handcrafted works are expressed beautifully in woodwork and showcased in carvings, epic detailing, mouldings, and crafted furniture. These are sought after as one-off pieces loaded with design statement and make for elegant storage such as cabinets and armoires. I am infatuated by Italian craftsmanship and custom-made pieces.

Living with Luxury Today

There are two opposing philosophies to modern luxury interior design.

One is that of the modern style. A moment of ZEN captured in clean lines, spacious rooms, openness with an uninterrupted flow of natural light and structural design, built on a completely neutral colour palette (although, personally I don’t think they mean anything without a carefully considered splash of colour). A minimalist, almost spiritual enlightenment of space and décor design.

Minimalist luxury design
Minimalist designs are usually clean lines, spacious rooms, openness with an uninterrupted flow of natural light and structural design, built on a completely neutral colour palette. Image courtesy of NeONBRAND on Unsplash

This is contrasted with a contemporary approach to luxury which creatively combines multiple styles and elements, underscored by superb quality and an inventive creativity. Here, bold colours and design elements – like statement ceilings – floors and light fixtures along with high ceilings, exposed ducting, funky furniture and dynamic statement art are a cause for celebration and the joy of luxury living.

Maximalist luxury design
Maximalist designs combine multiple styles, bold colours and design elements, underscored by superb quality and an inventive creativity. Image courtesy of DarthZuzanka from Pixabay

As the world turns its eye to Africa, the future of luxury interior styling is putting its own aesthetic foot forward. Craft now fuses with industrial design in new and edgy ways. Regality and dignity are injected into design choices but are balanced with quirky and unorthodox interpretations of heritage and culture, all the more powerful for its urbane relevance. And for me, as an African woman in interior design and styling, this fusion of different types of beauty, all with their own history and aesthetic, is an exciting and colourful journey into the future.

Mali Langa is the Founder of Task Interior Styling & Award-Winning Head Interior Stylist. She is also the founder of the non-profit Mali Langa Children’s Foundation Trust.

TASK Interior Styling is a Johannesburg-based, boutique interior firm founded by Mali Langa, dedicated to creating tailored spaces through innovative style choices.

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