Q&A with Donald Nxumalo – interior designer on the move


Donald Nxumalo holds a key to a Steyn City apartment. Image by Jurgen Marx.

A reality star and the winner of the Steyn City* Four D interior design competition, Donald Nxumalo is proving that, with an enterprising spirit, nothing can stand in his way.

How did your passion for interior designing start?

As a child, I would visit antique fairs and developed a love for antique furniture as well as the value it held. I have always had a passion for design and beautiful spaces, so it was a natural progression for me to go from high school to design school.

I studied at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in Pretoria and obtained my Interior Design Degree.

You entered the Steyn City Four D Competition in 2014, which was aimed at unearthing South African design talent and which aired on SABC3. Tell us more about that experience.

The moment of winning was amazing. It gave me so much confidence and belief in my own designing ability that an estate like Steyn City, the most luxurious residential estate, felt I was the right candidate to be chosen as the preferred interior designer. The win meant that I had access to clients at the estate and a steady stream of clientele.


Perfect simplicity – Steyn City bedroom styled by Donald Nxumalo.

You also have your own business. Can you tell us about that?

I entered the competition to boost my business and get more clients. I have had my business since 2012 and started it out of necessity. I had to pay for my final year of university and decided to go to local shop owners to offer them my design services. The services included making their shops customer friendly and more appealing. This move aided in the urban gentrification we had in the inner city of Pretoria.

What clients do you have?

I now operate in the high-end market of the business, partly because of Steyn City. My client base is largely from estates and high-end areas. I also have corporate clients that wish to have fully furnished units for business, as well as people who are relocating to South Africa.

What are your proudest achievements?

Starting my business, making a profit and having a steady stream of clients. My business and scope of projects is expanding and I am now finding myself doing interior design for bigger homes and working with bigger budgets.

Winning the Steyn City Four D competition and graduating while still working are also my proudest achievements.


Wooden figurines in Steyn City bathroom, styled by Donald Nxumalo.

What is the main interior décor trend for this year?

Green is the new gold. Emerald green on walls and fabric is my latest obsession.

What places have you travelled to and how have they inspired your work?

I have been to Hong Kong and was inspired to see people doing so much with small spaces. They have innovative interior design solutions. I also love the textiles and vibrant colours of fabrics and crafts from Nairobi and Watamu in Kenya.

What inspires you as a designer?

I’m inspired by creating solutions for better living for my clients. I love creating beautiful spaces that resonate with my clients’ values and aesthetics. I love beautiful fabrics and new materials that emerge each time in the industry.

What are your plans for the future?

My immediate plans are to grow my business by servicing my current clients as best as I can. That way I know I will get referrals.


  1. If you are on a budget, consider wallpaper on a feature wall as a way to dramatically change your living space.
  2. Go to your local thrift shops and select a piece of furniture that can be painted in a brilliant colour and covered in a fabric that you love.
  3. Be on a lookout for sales and visit auction houses for a quality antique piece of furniture.
Donald Nxumalo

Donald Nxumalo, photographed by Mpho Mokgadi.

*Steyn City is a R6.5-billion upmarket lifestyle resort in the north of Johannesburg. It is six times the size of Sandton City, four times the size of Monaco and two-and-a-half times the size of Central Park in New York. Before the reveal of the property, the Steyn City Four D Competition was launched to unearth new design talent for an opportunity to become Steyn City’s residential interior designer.

Link up with Donald Nxumalo on Twitter: @designerDony.

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