Dipika’s Designs on the Top

Dipika Makwana has had her eye on the top for some time now.  The sparky 35-year-old Yorkshire lass is now out to get there with the launch of her Interior Design business in Leeds.

Already established as one of the big names in interior design, Dipika has earned her spurs by providing living spaces for many of the rich and famous, including several football stars with Leeds and Manchester United, among them Ryan Giggs.

Such credentials bode well for her new operation which she hopes will bring as standard of interior design normally associated with the super rich into the reach of well, if not the average worker, at least the £100,000 a year income bracket.

Called Elysian, the company which takes its name from the paradise of the ancient Greeks, will offer complete makeovers of homes, with a vision evolved by award-winning Dipika who puts together a complete package tailored to her clients’ budget and taste.

She learnt her trade with John Wilman Fabrics, creating designs for pattern books, and then the upmarket carpet manufacture Signatures in Hebden Bridge after graduating with a degree in Interior Design from Nottingham Trent University after school at the Jacob Kramer College in Leeds.

Much of her work there involved anticipating what next year’s design concepts would be by compiling style books around which the company could base its buying for the coming season.

“We did it by compiling a sort of scrap book, really, in which I would put in all sorts of bits and pieces which showed what colours were coming to the fore, what design motifs were catching the imagination.  It might include snippets from the papers, wrappers, bits of fabric, wall paper and so on.

The whole idea was to present it to the buyers to give them an idea of what to look for in designs so they could capture the spirit of the moment,” she explains.

Dipika found herself becoming so wrapped up in the world of design that she still has a mountain of volumes of material which she has never used –  a vital data bank which she intends to use when researching concepts for her own clientele.

Many of her design values she puts down to her eclectic and colourful background.  Her father was born Mozambique while it was still a Portuguese colony  and her mother comes from Gujarat.  They both emigrated to Britain in their twenties and settled in Yorkshire.

“It means there have been many influences in the background,” Dipika says.  “There is a fusion between the European ones and the Asian ones.  These all have definite influences on my approach to design and gives it a more universal appeal.”

Dipika still keeps a daily journal in which she notes things that catch her fancy in much the same way as one of her greatest heroes, the remarkable Augustus Pugin who designed the rebuilt Palace of Westminster among many prodigious works.

A more modern influence is the highly regarded French based designer Alberto Pinto, whose trademark is a mixture of Oriental and European styles.   “I had heard of him but not seen a lot of information about him. But then I kept coming across his work illustrated in different magazines and I found I had collected a lot of pictures of his work and taken inspiration from them without realising it.”

Dipika’s work has already been stamped on some of the finest homes in Northern England.  “I have been able to work on some beautiful properties and of course a magnificent residence has the power to inspire in its own right.”

Her job, as she sees it, is a co-ordinating one in which she will design the look that will then be the setting for furniture and objets d’art she thinks will enhance the overall space.

“My objective is to create something that is elegant, interesting and functional,” Dipika maintains.  “A designer always has to remember that a home is to be lived in.  It is extremely important that a client feels relaxed and happy to live in what has been created.”

“You can’t force someone to like what you like.  Clients tend to be very sophisticated themselves.  They have travelling extensively and have strong personalities that they want to express.”

So there are clearly times when an Interior Designer has to play the part of the diplomat in negotiating outcomes that satisfy the expectations of the client but which may sometimes lift them clear of their comfort zone and take them to places they may not have considered.

Dipika’s decision to branch out on her own is clearly a brave one, but she is strongly supported by her former employer and has very strong relationships with leading manufacturers for whom she will be, in effect, an independent agent.

“My family have been marvellous,” says Dipika, “and the time is absolutely right for me to be doing this.  To be a successful designer you have to have an independent mind and ultimately that was going to take me into running my own business.”