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A labour of love

Interior designer Kesha Pillay of Art of Kitchens talks about her love for creating personalised kitchens.


Kate Veteri

Passion is a strong word reserved for feelings of intensity, and it’s the most appropriate word to use when describing the way Kesha Pillay of Art of Kitchens talks about her profession. Pouring her heart and creative ingenuity into every design, she works hard to create kitchens that serve as the ultimate family hub. 

Q: How did you know kitchen designing was for you? 

KP: While I was studying a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in interior design, I worked for a tile company and then a bathroom company but I wasn’t too fond of those. My idea was to just get as much experience as I could in each industry and then go onto designing larger projects. But kitchen design was my third job and I have stayed there ever since. I don’t think I will be going anywhere, I love it. 


Q: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

KP: A lot of my inspiration comes from my clients and the house that they’re renovating. The kitchen for me is a central part of the home, and you want that space to be attractive and functional. A new kitchen design needs to tie into the rest of the home, suit the client’s style, and remain functional for everyday use. But I also work hard to make it look appealing. When I’m designing a kitchen I often think of my mum. She has the ability to turn something simple into a work of art, and I try to channel that energy into my work.

Q: How would you describe your design style?

KP: I wouldn’t say I’m a traditionalist but I do lean more towards a classic style, I really like including detailing in doors and various textures. However, the end design will come down to the home you’re designing for, you have to maintain a harmonious feel. For example, lighting in the space will determine what colours you’ll be using. I tend to do a lot of white kitchens as a lot of people find it safe, however depending on the home, soft or muted blue and green shades can lift a space, just like a white kitchen can. Colour can add great personality and interest in the kitchen, so it gives me great enjoyment whenever I get the opportunity to step outside the box. 


Q: What do you love most about being a designer? 

KP: Being able to satisfy the customer’s needs and wants. I think every designer walks away from the job happy if they can do that. Homes are quite personal so it’s a privilege for us to be invited into a client’s home and have the opportunity to draw a design for them. And if they decide to go ahead with you it’s even more rewarding because they trust you. Even though it’s usually an 8–10 week job you get to know your clients and that’s the nice thing about it – I get to make new friends and make them happy. When I get that call from a client after the kitchen has been installed, saying ‘Kesha, I really love the space! I really enjoy working in my new kitchen’, that’s when I know I’ve done my job right. 

Q: What advice would you like to pass on to other emerging designers?

KP: One of the most important things is clarity when you are presenting a design to your clients. It’s easy for a designer to know exactly what it’s going to look like but it’s often hard for the consumer to understand. So you’ve got to be patient and clear. At Art of Kitchens we use 3D images. This allows us to be transparent and give the clients a really good idea of what we’re trying to achieve.

At the end of the day, as a designer you want to ensure you’re giving the clients the best possible design for the space because they’re the ones living there. Designers are there as a guide and we need to be clear if something won’t work, and give them other possible options that might be even better. If you do this people will often take your expertise on board. 

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When I’m designing a kitchen I often think of my mum. She has the ability to turn something simple into a work of art, and I try to channel that energy into my work.


Q: What does the future hold?

KP: When I first started, I designed a kitchen for a lovely lady in a wheelchair. I would love to do more specialised kitchens like that because, with the knowledge I have now, I feel I could offer more in the way of creating a captivating design for accessible living. I would just love to help all different types of people use the space so that they can appreciate their kitchen just like everyone else. 
I’m lucky that I’ve found my passion in designing kitchens and that each job is unique. I never know what’s coming up next, what the job or design brief is going to be – but I like the challenge! 


Outside the lines 

Q: What do you do in your spare time?

KP: I love spending time with my family and shopping. I actually get disappointed when I walk out of the shop without purchasing anything. 

Q: What’s guaranteed to make you laugh?

KP: It sounds really corny but my husband. He tells the worst jokes and I’m probably the only one who’d laugh at them!

Q: What’s your guilty pleasure?

KP: Chocolate. That’s every girl’s greatest pleasure, isn’t it? I specifically love Nutella.


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