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Catching up with a Johannesburg design firm: CS Design

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Modern balcony, veranda & terrace by CS DESIGN Modern
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CS Design, based in Sandton, Johannesburg, is an experienced interior design firm that caters to design solutions for a variety of industries, from residential and hospitality to retail and industrial. 

With a range of services available to their ever-growing list of clients, CS Design aims to approach each project individually by taking everything into consideration – from the structures of the client’s home to the latest fashion trends and technology – in order to ensure unique results that cater to the client’s needs and wants. No surprise, then, that this design firm sports a portfolio that showcases projects spanning from South Africa to the UK and New York.  

We caught up with founder and head designer at CS Design Carin Shardelow, whose journey to her company began in London in 1985, which is where she kicked off her career with a course in interior design. Six years later, in New York, she was ready to turn her dream and passion into a profession, and she has not looked back since. 

1. Carin’s passion and style

Entertainment area view to counter and fireplace Modern kitchen by CS DESIGN Modern

Entertainment area view to counter and fireplace


A love for architecture and a need to create structures / buildings from an early age is what determined Carin’s passion for design. As far as influences go, there are a variety of elements that define Carin’s style, such as: 

• Structure and architectural style of a space, functionality, aesthetics, light and use of spots of colour, texture, and pattern

• Classic-contemporary architecture, interiors and design that are timeless. 

To help her find the end result (the design) of every project, Carin takes into consideration:

• The client’s brief

• Their budget

• Their likes and dislikes

• Their structure of space

• The style of their building / house. 

2. Interested fields of design

De Kelders Residence Hermanus Western Cape Modern kitchen by CS DESIGN Modern

De Kelders Residence Hermanus Western Cape


What fuels Carin is the fact that she is helping to create spaces from nothing, as well as being involved with the entire design process, whether it’s a new home or an office space. And even though she is experienced in a variety of industries, the hospitality and retail stand out as favourites. 

3. Her inspiration

What inspires her to continue doing what she does on a daily basis? 

• Travelling abroad

• Online interior sites

• International design and décor magazines

• Following her favourite designers’ work

• Attending trend talks and trade shows

• Going to Archtober in New York every second year to further stock up on inspiration for the design industry. 

*Archtober is New York City’s Architecture and Design Month, the eighth annual month-long festival of architecture activities, programs and exhibitions taking place during the month of October.

4. Favourite things related to design

Magazine and websites: Architectural digest, Vogue Living, House & Garden, homify, Houzz

Designers: Ralph Lauren, William Yeoward, Kelly Hoppen

5. Tips for people seeking an Interior Designer


1. Be open and honest about your budget right from the start

2. Understand deposits and the structure of the professional’s payments / fees

How can one prepare for a first meeting with an Interior Designer?

1. Obtain references from past clients / previous jobs the professional worked on

2. Verify these by checking the designer’s social media pages or website

3. Bring along ideas and suggestions of styles you like to get the ball rolling

4. Ask for 3D renders, mood boards, and presentations to give you an idea of what to expect

5. Request timelines from the designer so you can know what to expect from the project

6. Important suggestions for potential clients

“… if you are not serious about acquiring the service of a designer, please do not request so on homify—we are not there to do a feasibility study. Understand that for us to do a proposal and a budget together we put hours and hours of design work, meetings with suppliers and sourcing of materials fixtures etc. in to compile this and will charge for this presentation.

Once you pay a professional for this proposal, you can do what you want with it—get various quotes and even complete the project yourself.“

Respect the professional’s intellectual property when he or she proposes a design—be prepared to pay for the designer’s effort.” 

7. More info about CS Design’s ‘Jukskei Park’ project

1. Location and style: In a residential area with homes built in the early eighties 

2. Duration of project: 3 months  

3. What the brief requested: The client was a single father, a professional working from home. His brief requested a contemporary space using black, white and spots of colour. 

4. Approaching the design: Carin opened up the small rooms to create a larger space, as well as the ceiling in the living area and main bedroom. Furthermore, custom sliding stable-type doors were brought in as accents and to provide privacy when needed.

For more information on the Jukskei Park project, have a look at The modern bachelor home by Johannesburg interior designers.

Modern houses by Casas inHAUS Modern

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