From modest beginnings in Pretoria West in a working class black home, Donald Nxumalo has always had a vision, one which is rooted in the past but looks to the future. The junior school he attended in inner city Pretoria had been a hospital in the Anglo-Boer War and he remembers being drawn to the school’s unique tiles and pressed ceilings. Antiques fairs became a hunting ground: artefacts from the past held stories which could be retold and reconfigured. A career in design was inevitable.
As a student at the Tshwane University of Technology Donald took on design work for small businesses run by those on the social margins, showing a commitment to working ethically while still having an entrepreneurial spirit. He’s paid his dues and his clients respect this. Donald is very aware that his success as a young black designer means something. Inasmuch as “I see people”, people see him as a symbol of hope and inspiration. “I bought this because of you” said one customer in his shop in Kramerville. While he can do luxury, this is never at the expense of the loyalty he has earned from his suppliers who value his respect.
His design philosophy is simple: “the client must see themselves in what I bring together.” The process is collaborative and based on trust, respect and empathy. He listens, he tunes into his clients, and the end product is a space which is true to the client’s needs, bespoke and unique. He enjoys clients who engage with him, clients who have had a conversation with themselves before seeking him out. Together, they go on a journey of discovery, to unearth a look which is a marriage of the client’s vision and Donald’s ability to transform that vision into something more, something special.
Mindful of his history, and his place in the melting pot of Johannesburg, Donald sees his design business as a place where “everyone is good and feels at home.” Bound together by a culture of skill, talent and determination, this is “my tribe of people”.
He started DNX Interior Design in (2012) and is now simply Donald Nxumalo™, his name is his brand and his word. From then to now, Donald has been wowing clients across Africa. Projects have included consular offices in Tanzania, a hotel in Uganda and the homes of many celebrities in South Africa. His refurbishment of a woman’s organisation with roots in the struggle is a testimony to his adaptability and integrity.
He has blossomed into a full blown design talent, one that has truly arrived. A talent which is sophisticated, African, urbane and intuitive. Much like his Hertex fabric collaborations, Donald Nxumalo Interior Design is charting new territories in his unique design language.
From the award as best fourth year design student at design school, to first prize in the SABC 3 Win a Home design competition, and with recognition from the Mail and Guardian, Elle Decor, Destiny Man and House and Leisure, Donald is recognised as a formidable design talent who remains grounded and driven.