With just 4 years in the game, MALI LANGA has already made her way into the big leagues and secured her position as a major player in interior design. And it’s no surprise that she’s made it this far, considering her unbridled passion for creating one of a kind, luxurious spaces and her dedication to fostering innovation through collaboration. She had a chat with Mo Adefope about navigating the interior design world as the head of TASK Interior Styling, the power of teamwork and her role as a source of inspiration to the youth.
Your company, TASK Interior Styling has come such a long way since you started off in 2016. What are the major factors that have helped you to build such a successful company so far?
Making great first impressions is a priceless asset to anyone venturing into the business world. Whenever we release something new to the world, we make sure it has that “VAVA” factor, because you are only ever as good as your latest work. I also push my team to constantly improve and develop themselves and of course, I lead by example. Building each other up to deliver an extra level of “fabulous” with everything we do pays off every time and since our rebranding in 2019, we have been operating on a different level. TASK will not give up the fight until we are on top of the world.
We’re undoubtedly living in uncertain times, in regards to what the future is going to look like for all of us. Do you think that there are bound to be major changes in the interior design industry on the other side of this pandemic?
Definitely! People have learned that virtual meetings, presentations, briefings and the like, actually save a lot of time. Working virtually brings with it so many exciting opportunities such as Virtual Reality design presentations. And of course, many designers are adapting their core output beyond just design services and implementation, to online shopping of their unique items. At TASK, we are launching our own online store with inspired luxury products and this is extra exciting because we will also be reaching a demographic beyond those who make use of interior designers to the people who love DIY home projects…now they can benefit from picking and choosing designer items and styling their own homes.
You’re very passionate about collaboration and creating impactful results through teamwork. Would you say that there’s a strong sense of collaboration within the interior design industry in not just South Africa, but Africa as a whole?
Collaboration is one of the pillars of my business philosophy. And when it comes to creative output, even more so. I think that there is a general shift in thinking collaboratively and working with others, especially since we are able to find new partners so easily these days with the connectivity that social media offers us. We have been introducing our brand to the Nigerian market in the last few weeks, and we hope to form bonds with fellow creatives in the rest of Africa as we continue expanding TASK Interior Styling. But to answer your question, yes. Collaboration is a growing trend. We all need to move away from the idea of competition and see how we can strengthen [one another]. I think that’s a lesson that can bridge many gaps in the world.
In light of the pandemic and the changes we’ve had to make to how we socialise and work with each other, how have you been able to maintain an optimal level of collaboration amongst your team within TASK Interior Styling?
For the most part we are working from home, collaborating over virtual calls and design sessions. We do meet up when absolutely necessary and maintain all government guidelines. My team and I have been forced to think out of the box in order to keep up the pace we have been working at and truly, we have come up with some inspiring original designs and concepts due to the changes in thinking and working. One of the great things that has come out of this is TASK creating uplifting and colourful designs which are intended to lift the spirits of our clients in the spaces they occupy as they navigate these difficult times.
You’re also the founder of The Mali Langa Children’s Foundation Trust, which you started to help and provide support to indigent children. What inspired you to start this organisation?
Three things. 1. My kids. 2. My love for children in general. 3. Our duty to give back and inspire others. I want my kids to see what it means to be generous and what giving joy can bring you. I also want to inspire children and help as many of them reach for their dreams and have a role model with morals to look up to. And thirdly, when life blesses you, it is also calling on you to spread those blessings to others; this I firmly believe.
And do you feel like you’ve achieved some of the organisation’s main goals with the projects you’ve embarked on to spark meaningful change in the lives of children in need?
Absolutely! Every time I go out to spend time with the children from our projects, I know the love I am showing them will leave a lasting footprint on their lives. My time and love have been my greatest donations. Other than that, living circumstances for these kids have been improved upon immensely and that all contributes to them growing up to be balanced and goal oriented. With the recent donation of laptops to about 16 teens, we have also been instrumental in making their education careers so much easier. We are excited for upcoming projects, one of which includes a fabulous illustrated children’s book which I hope will further tell the story of how finding inspiration and goals in life is something we must constantly impress upon the youth. I have said this many times, but these are our future presidents and ministers and they need love and guidance.
Over the years, the interior design industry has experienced a boom in demand and designers like yourself have become highly sought after. Do you think this shift owes itself more to an improvement in technology which has driven innovation or the fact that more individuals and businesses have come to realise the value and necessity of interior designers?
I think [an improvement] in technology has made the whole design process easier and more accessible to [the average] homeowner. But a big part of it is also due to social media. Although social media offers its own set of social problems, it also does a lot of good. I think with access to so much beautiful content from all over the world, everyone wants their homes to match up to global standards. As humans we are pushing each other to new levels of creativity and efficient living through sharing our design ideas and stories.
Working with clients in the interior design industry must bring with it, its own particular set of nuances as people have different tastes and it can be sometimes challenging to balance your expertise and your eye for design with your clients’ visions for their spaces. How have you been able to traverse this line so far in your work?
I am [very much] willing to collaborate and interact with my clients. Whilst creatives often have their own ideals for beautiful designs, it is not them who have to live in the spaces they create. An interior designer needs to establish an intimate connection with their clients in order to bring their vision to life. From getting to understand their lifestyle, their likes and dislikes, to what pleases them aesthetically. It’s my job to take my client’s ideas and merge them with my talents, expertise and advice without forcing my own tastes too much, in order to ultimately achieve an unforgettable design that is loved by everyone who experiences it. At TASK, we have a very clever interactive briefing form which aims to capture the scope of the project but also the tastes of the client, and after this, a thorough briefing meeting with them helps us to further get a feel for each other. And of course, at TASK we do not sleep until our clients look at the final design and feel like they can’t believe that this is their space.
How would you define your personal style? And do you find that this subconsciously translates into your interior design work with every project you bring to life?
I bring my projects together with an emphasis on luxury, uniqueness and a pop of colour to excite and bring the design to life. My personal approach to luxury is that of a maximalist modern design. As a whole, eclectic choices interact with a bold mix of colour, patterns, and texture. Beautifully crafted pieces are thoughtfully curated through contrast, layering and collection, though never cluttered. It is an artful composition of creativity and sensory delight. In essence, my designs are colourful, mingling various styles together and adding a uniquely African perspective to it.
Considering that your approach to design leans more towards maximalism, what are your views on the minimalist aesthetic that seems to have taken over not just the interior design industry, but all areas of the design world in general? Do you feel like it’s more of a trend or something that’s truly here to stay?
Minimalism is beautiful within the right context, such as an office or professional space. But very few of us actually live that way. I think what people crave more than clean lines and clear surfaces is warmth. A welcoming interior that sets the mind at ease is, to me, stronger than a design which inherently inspires nervousness and obsessive compulsive behaviour to keep everything exactly like it was the day your designer handed it over to you.
What advice would you give to young, budding interior designers who are trying to create their own paths in the industry?
Sometimes, shaping a career in the creative industry can be exceptionally hard, and we can easily get discouraged. But let me tell you how to make it: never take shortcuts! If you look at your work and you don’t immediately feel like you want to show the whole world how stunning it is, then you are not done yet. If you aspire to be the best and put in the extra hours, you will never be without work.
Photos Courtesy Of TASK Interior Styling