In Conversation with John Jacob Zwiegelaar

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Stepping into the sphere of residential and commercial interior design, you get luxury, and then you get luxury. John Jacob Zwiegelaar curates spaces that exude the latter, leaving an essence of splendour in every room he touches. Skilled in the craft of the bespoke, John was a natural option for a quick chat on style, sophistication, and the approach to design that makes all the difference.

You’ve been named a style icon and top designer many times, and rightfully so. Who is your style icon – not only in design but in life in general?

I have so many. On the contemporary side, I would say Axel Vervoordt and Jean-Louis Deniot. On the classic side, Martin Brudnizki, Anouska Hempel, and Paolo Moschino.

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Which of your projects do you feel embody the essence of your style the most?

I’m not really a designer that embodies a single style, but stylistically the common thread in my work is order. As my skills evolve, so does my style.

Is there a particular maker or brand that you love working with at the moment?

Pierre Cronje is still our best furniture maker in South Africa. Other makers I use often are Minotti and Holly Hunt on the modern side, while for a classic touch, I’d say Ralph Lauren is a favourite.

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Your career has flourished since opening John Jacob Interiors, and is locally and globally admired and respected. What advice would you give to someone hoping to follow in your footsteps?

I wouldn’t describe design as a career. Design is a way of being. Being a good designer is all about sensitivity to your environment. This has nothing to do with taste – it has to do with how environments feel, rather than how they appear in pictures. Design is emotive. You are stimulating an emotional response in people, so stay sensitive and never stop paying attention to the details.

This article is an extract from our April volume, click here to read the follow volume!

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