Is it really possible to monetize something you are genuinely passionate about, and transform it into a thriving, successful business? For Folakemi Oloye, the answer is a resounding YES.
Folakemi is an award-winning, multi-faceted professional interior designer, strategist and developer. Armed with a relentless passion for design, she makes a living from creating harmonious and beautiful spaces with the aim of enhancing lifestyles with the right touch of luxury and finesse.
She is the Founder and Creative Director at Teal Harmony, an Interior Design Firm based in Nigeria with expertise in Renovation, 2D & 3D Design, Space Planning, Fit-Outs, Furniture Sourcing and Production, interior decoration, fine-art sourcing and Project Management. As the Lead Designer at Teal Harmony, she manages business operations, defines business strategies, and provides design direction for projects.
With about 10 years of experience as a business developer across several notable business sectors, her strategic planning knowledge and experience, along with her highly creative thought process make her a force to be reckoned with in the interior design industry. In this exclusive interview with GLAMOUR, Folakemi gives us a behind-the-scenes insight into the interesting world of interior design from her dynamic perspective.
GLAMOUR: How does your career as an interior designer influence your personal style?
Folakemi Oloye: Coming from a corporate background of formal outfits, this initially influenced my style as I transitioned into interior design. But as my style of design got refined, so did my personal style. At the moment, it reflects a lot of my design ethos which is elegance, afrofusion, jewel tones, timelessness and comfort.
GLAMOUR: Interior design often involves incorporating various design styles to meet different clients' needs. What is your approach to blending different styles harmoniously in your variety of projects?
Folakemi Oloye: One of my major design philosophies that I prioritize is balance. Making sure that the design proposal reflects the clients’ desires, and creating room for the design to also push the clients’ boundaries to enter their higher aspirations for themselves. This typically reflects in 70:20:10 ratio as opposed to the typical 60:30:10 ratio (this ratio can be applied to design styles, colors etc).
For us, we typically use a good mix of Neoclassical, Art Deco and afrofusion in our design style. I find that in using this ratio, it helps in creating a space that is not only timeless but able to absorb new trends that allows the space to always feel elegant and stylish. I find that in using this ratio it helps in creating a space that is timeless but still able to absorb new trends that allow the space to always feel elegant.
GLAMOUR: What current interior design trends do you find particularly interesting, and how do you incorporate them into your projects?
Folakemi Oloye: I’m really loving the maximalism trend that’s making quite a comeback. Its lovely seeing unique patterns, seeing and feeling beautiful textures take center stage and furniture becoming more sculptural. For our projects, we infuse maximalism for the new converts, by the use of accessories, and for clients who do not mind bolder expressions; we infuse it by having sculptural furniture and bold patterned wallpapers.
GLAMOUR: As a female interior designer in Africa, are there any unique challenges entrepreneurs like yourself face in the industry?
Folakemi Oloye: There has definitely been a growing support for female entrepreneurs across Africa. Financial and governmental institutions are getting creative on how to bring women to the “table,” however; when it comes to women gaining access to opportunities within a certain money bracket, “the boys club” comes to play.
In Nigeria especially, I have seen situations where both genders are vying for a contract with similar competence, but projects are awarded to a man on the basis of the notion that “we need to support him because he is the head of a home, while the woman can easily get support from a man.” It’s an unconscious bias that keeps women out of the room where massive opportunities are being discussed.
GLAMOUR: Style isn't just limited to aesthetics; it also extends to practicality and functionality. How do you ensure that your design solutions are both functional and stylish for your clients' everyday lives in residential or commercial settings?
Folakemi Oloye: At Teal Harmony, our design approach starts from the user experience before we look into aesthetics, this has helped us to put science first before the art. This approach means that our spaces look and feel great, creating the feeling of wanting to stay for longer.
This is even more evident in our commercial and hospitality designs because we are aware that the return on investment needs to be actualized. We are conscious of the fact that no matter how beautiful a space is, if potential customers are not comfortable enough to stay for longer, the space misses out on increasing its revenue.
GLAMOUR: Due to global climate change concerns, eco-friendliness and sustainability have become essential factors in design. How do you infuse environmentally conscious elements into your design style and projects?
Folakemi Oloye: Our designs consider the reduction the reduction in consumption of electricity by creating spaces with great natural light, good ventilation and the use of smart home systems. Plants are also a huge part of our designs.
As part of our sustainability measures, we decided to set up in our furniture factory, “The Furniture Showcase” to encourage clients to purchase well made in Nigeria furniture, we also use this to teach our clients to appreciate products from our local craftsmen. Another thing we do is that as much as possible, we use paints with low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), to mention a few.
GLAMOUR: What are some interior design trends that you foresee happening in 2024 and beyond?
Folakemi Oloye: For 2024, I foresee an understated approach to maximalism, more play on patterns and textures than bold colors. Sculptural furniture has been such a hit also. I don’t see these two trends going out of style anytime soon. Also, I predict that the use of modular furniture will take on even more exciting possibilities in 2024.
I see afrofusion designs taking centre stage as more and more Africans are beginning to embrace our style and culture.
GLAMOUR: What advice would you give African women who desire to venture into a career in interior design?
Folakemi Oloye: African women desiring a career in interior design need to first realise that the opportunities in the industry are not yet fully tapped so there is room for more practitioners. I would advice that the value chain in the interior industry be really researched, so that value can be created in the gaps that exist.
GLAMOUR: For female entrepreneurs looking to revamp their office spaces on a budget, what are some budget-friendly interior design tips you would recommend?
Tip 1 - Plants are such beautiful inexpensive additions to a space, apart from the benefits to the climate, they are also very beneficial to human health.
Tip 2 - Use of multipurpose furniture, for example, getting an office table that can also serve as a meeting table.
Tip 3 - Use inexpensive sheer curtains as window solutions, as it offers balanced privacy and adds a soft feminine touch that allows daylight in and brightens up the office.
GLAMOUR: What’s next for you in the world of interior design?
Folakemi Oloye: We recently opened our flagship lifestyle showroom in Lagos, Teal Culture. It’s a collaborative showroom that provides all things needed for a residential space. It is still very new, so we plan on collecting as much data as possible to continue to refine our offerings and create an experiential space for interior design enthusiasts.
Words By Kris Sowah (Cypress)