Student Success - André van Eeden

By Sarah Van Arsdale on July 2nd, 2009
  • Student Name: André van Eeden
  • City: Cape Town, South Africa
  • Website: AVE Design

NYIAD students are out there in droves decorating clients' homes, serving as consultants in department stores, and re-designing everything from metropolitan penthouses to lakeshore cottages. If you've started your own business, if you've been hired by a decorating firm, or if you've achieved success in some other way in the field of interior design, we want to hear from you! Click here to let us know about the waves you're making!

If you missed earlier installments of this series, here's your chance to read more about the accomplishments of NYIAD students. Just visit our NYIAD Student Success page.

AVE design

Students at the NYIAD School are among the most enthusiastic, hard-working people on earth, often launching their design careers before their certificate is even in their hands.

André van Eeden is one such student, and his work shows how in-depth study, hard work, and excitement about design can pay off in satisfaction — and in landing jobs. André started his own business while approaching the end of his NYIAD studies, and today he's decorator, designer and does project management as well.

"This course is proof that one can execute large corporate projects as well as large residential projects. My entire business is structured on the NYIAD principals and not one day have I looked back in disappointment," he says.

Right now he's re-designing and decorating an entire Guest Lodge in his home country of South Africa. "Every room is to have a different theme," he says. "I am also doing the décor for a small country house in a retirement village."

Clancy bedroom
Rachel Clancy design

André took the plunge while still a NYIAD student in a way that show that if you throw yourself into it and take a risk, you'll get great results. No sitting back and waiting for things to come to him, André presented a morning tea for ladies in his community, inviting two fabric houses to display their fabrics.

"I then had a talk on ‘What's In and What's Out in Decorating.' This opened the door and soon another group invited me to Bonnievale, a town not too far from here where I had to do the same."

And then he was on his way.

Andre Van Eeden

In these tough economic times, André finds that cost-effectiveness is more important than ever, which often means using high-quality products from a more affordable supplier.

"Also make the client understand that they are spending on achieving a specific look and that it is not just playing "house-house!" To achieve a professional result one must be willing to spend. If one skimps and saves too much, that is what you will get: An unsophisticated finish screaming for attention!"

Even with the difficulties of working through the economic downturn, André finds that he enjoys the "challenge to create a beautiful interior that speaks of timeless elegance and sophistication. Also to give my client an end product that will surpass her highest expectations!"

AVE Design hallway
Andre Van Eeden office

André raves about the NYIAD Complete Course in Interior Design, even though he has a natural aptitude for decorating. "The Course played a major part in ensuring my success. It still does! My entire business operation is based on the NYIAD principles and business plan," he says.

If André were to give advice to other students, he'd recommend that they be "honest and transparent" with clients. "A client reads you like a book and sense whether you are capable or not. Always remember: A client will call on you because they trust your input, skills and creativity — something they do not possess! So, just be yourself and be confident and enjoy it!"

AVE design kitchen

At the same time, it's important to protect those creative ideas of your own, and not leave sketches or plans with the client, who could then try to go it alone. He's found that charging a substantial commitment fee or deposit helps weed out clients who aren't serious. "We always explain that the cost of setting up and starting the project as well as visiting various tradesmen to ensure the best prices and quality can be costly and we only have their best interest at heart."

André will be keeping busy in the near future, as South Africa will host the World Cup next year and "there is a flurry in the hospitality trade! For now I have to give my undivided attention to the Guest Lodge in Rawsonville near Cape Town."


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