The Team

Karen Richards

Style is such a personal matter and I believe designing and decorating your home is not a race, but a journey that continues to evolve over time

As Directing head of Design: Africa and Owner at Living Divani, Karen brings a solid blend of business acumen and award-winning creative genius to the table; and as such put equal focus on the business side of the design process. “While I love the creative side of design, the planning and process is of equal importance – we need be able to deliver on time, within budget and aligned to our clients’ needs and objectives for a space.”

Upon matriculating, the travel bug bit Karen and it was during her time in Israel that her love for all things design came to the fore: “Jerusalem captivated me – it is a city of old and new that can be rediscovered every day. I have always been drawn to the story behind a design and every gate, wall and building in this city has a story and to this day it remains important for me to tell a story in every design and installation we complete,” she says of her first inspirations.

While Karen holds formal qualifications in Music (B Mus degree) and Design with a Higher Diploma in Interior Architecture she worked in the corporate world for 13 years before focusing full-time on design and décor and this is where her business, entrepreneurial and project management skills was honed – something that to this day she is grateful for and continues to develop in order to offer a comprehensive service to clients.

At her core, however, Karen was always creative with the design bug in her blood from a young age when as high-school student she often re-designed her childhood home with her first paying gig as a designer being the opportunity to design her father’s recording studio. After bidding the corporate world farewell when she decided to start a family she started a small freelancing service agency, collaborating with various design houses and working closely with some of the doyennes of industry to gain experience. “A particular highlight was the work I have done with the Enthoven family where we designed our very own fabric range and provided training to disadvantaged communities teaching women to sow and embroider within the non-profit arm of the organisation,” Karen says. These designs were so impactful and unique that it was at that time taken up by Woolworths which underlined Karen’s natural instincts to precede design trends.

In 2015 Karen joined the Living Divani family and has never looked back: “My collaboration with various architects during my freelance time and my tenure in the corporate world prepared me to take this company to the next level, offering a holistic design service – I am very proud of the work our team is doing, making an impact on people’s lives through design.

“We live in an information-filled era with every person having access to social media platforms believing design is about simply selecting fabrics and colours which yes: plays a pivotal part but there is so much more from a business and spatial planning perspective and I believe it is a designer’s duty to help customers wade through the right, wrong and fake information that is rife out there.”

As such Team Living Divani’s approach is that of collaboration between client and customer in order to bring the absolute best out of their space and increase the value of their infrastructure while interpreting their unique styles and telling their stories.

Jacqueline Caldeira Soares

“Trust the wait. Embrace the Uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming.”

Senior Interior Designer & Decorator, Jacqueline has always had a passion for all things design and décor, often re-designing spaces for family and friends from a young age and highlights the opportunity to re-design her own bedroom from scratch at age 17 as a highlight. However, upon matriculating she opted for a career in business before heeding to the call of her creative passion and following her heart.

She went on to obtain formal qualification in Interior Design in 2013 from the Potchefstroom Academy whereafter she worked in Bloemfontein for a couple of years before finding her home with the Living Divani team in 2016. And she has never looked back: “I simply love transforming and beautifying the lives and spaces for our clients – adding value and helping them to create the lifestyle they have always dreamed of.”

Citing scandinavian, bohemian, Industrial and urban modern as favourite design styles, Jacqueline believes at the end of the process the style needs to fully reflect the clients’ lifestyle and vision even if it is not per “textbook” style definition. “I love working with people and being inspired by their dreams, beliefs and lifestyle – there is nothing more fulfilling than seeing eyes light up when we reveal a space to a client for the first time!”

Desiree van der Vyver

Innovation is often the ability to reach to the past and bring back what is good, what is beautiful, what is useful, what is lasting.”

Office and project co-ordinator, Des has been part of the Living Divani team for the past two years; offering support to the design team and handling the admin side of the business. Honing her design skills by taking creative responsibility on some of the smaller projects, she believes that your home should tell the story of who you are and be a collection of what you love, coupled with high quality furniture pieces and some on-trend design items and accessories to pull it all together.

Des is passionate about the design industry and adores the eclectic design style, revealing her passion and love for the creative use of bold colours, the use of multiple textures and time periods which is so evident in most of the Living Divani designs. “I believe interior design and trust go hand in hand – it takes time to create the perfect space and therefore it is critical to build a strong relationship with our customers to ensure they understand we are there for support during the course of the project.”