Design firm feted for bringing out the best of Kenya in JKIA lounges

Wednesday December 16 2015

Lounges at the new terminal at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport that capture the modern spirit of Africa while at the same time offering world-class amenities for travellers. PHOTO | JERRY RILEY

Lounges at the new terminal at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport that capture the modern spirit of Africa while at the same time offering world-class amenities for travellers. PHOTO | JERRY RILEY  

A Kenyan firm has received international acclaim for interior design. Planning Interiors, which is based in Nairobi, won the top honours of the African Property Awards in Dubai in November this year for its outstanding work at the new lounges at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Eugene Ngugi, the firm’s owner and director, said the two lounges, Simba and Pride, capture the modern spirit of Africa and offer guests spaces to relax, refresh, conduct business, and enjoy all the usual amenities associated with a world-class lounge.

“When we were selected to design the lounges we realised that this was not our normal project; the airport, after all, is the first point of contact for visitors to our country. We created a design which had elements of our country, (but) with an international look and feel,” said Ngugi.

The firm, which was initially a department of an architectural firm — Planning Systems Services — has grown through the years to become a key player in the local interior design sector.

To get there, however, has taken resilience, focus and hard work. Only multinational firms like Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Esso initially bought the idea of a professional interior designer, but over the years local firms started seeking his services.

“We were making annual profits of about Sh48 million in 2006,” he says, “and we are currently making about Sh90 million a year.”

The company has grown immensely and now has 26 employees. Its customers include General Electric, IBM East Africa, Deloitte, Citi Bank, National Bank and Commercial Bank of Africa. It specialises in three key areas of interior design; corporate, retail and hospitality planning.

To win the Best Public Service Interior design, the firm beat a strong field of hundreds of contestants from 25 countries across Africa. The panel of judges comprised 70 industry experts.

Stuart Shield, President of the International Property Awards, praised African firms for their innovation.

“Once again, African interior designers have excelled in this competition by demonstrating their flair for creating innovative and impressive interiors that also prove ideally suited for their purpose,” he said during the awards.