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IT’S ALL ABOUT THE INSIDE!

November 2017

The couple was beaming as the photographers focused their lens to record the landmark in the new bride and groom’s life. The bride was obviously beside herself with joy while the groom calmly, but passionately looked down on the one he had, but moments ago, vowed his eternal love to. Relatives had annoyingly joined the already- swarmed -scene with their camera phones and were all waiting to capture their views of this memorable moment …the cutting of the cake. My eyes had been on the culinary masterpiece from the start of the reception. I knew I wasn’t alone. The cake was awesome!

The exterior cannot do without the interior since it is from this, as from life, that it derives much of its inspiration and character. Stephen Gardiner

Amidst the colorful aso-ebis and skillfully tied scarves, those of us seated managed to watch the ritual of the couple feed themselves while the proud cake designer organized her waiters to pass the guest pieces round. Being the sweet tooth that I am, I strummed my hand impatiently on the beautiful damask tablecloth hoping the pieces cut from the main cake would get to my table before finishing. The chairman’s speech had been endless… and the church service… and the queue for food?!? It would last forever before my table would be ushered to the buffet.


 A piece of cake, at this point, was a welcome idea.

After what seemed like eternity, the polite waiter neatly placed a side plate with chunky, luscious pieces of cake on the table. Fruit cake, I presumed. I could smell the rum and fruity flavors. I could hardly wait to dig in. I gobbled the first bite too fast, perhaps. I’d take my time through the rest of the dessert before concluding on what hit my not-so-excited taste buds. I curiously looked round at saucers on other tables and found my attempt in finishing two pieces was better than most people. Most saucers were still piled with cake. I watched a child who, like me, had eagerly reached for a piece, make a disapproving face and to the mom’s horror, spit out everything in her mouth.

I then made my conclusion…it wasn’t just me and my selective taste buds…something was definitely wrong with the cake. The exterior was fabulous; but not the inside.

“Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, its decoration.” — Jeffrey Zeldman

I drove back home that evening, after a palatable meal at my sister’s, which made up for the earlier encounter. I couldn’t help but wonder how terrible the baker must have felt with the glares from the mother in law; and all the complaints the guests had about the excesses and lack in the batter. Putting myself in her shoes….honestly, she had my sympathies. Anything could have gone wrong.

We live in a pro-external society, I guess. It’s really interesting how much attention we put in making sure exteriors are ‘on point’ while ‘anything goes’ for the insides. Be it a home, office, hospital or store, each space has its peculiarity and should be guided by those who know best.

 “I never design a building before I’ve seen the site and met the people who will be using it.” — Frank Lloyd Wright

 We, so often, put the cart before the horse by designing and churning out structures without the participation of the ever so relevant profession of Interior Design. We, as a society, are satisfied with providing, materially and intellectually, the barest minimum. Why bother’, we may say, to give the space a face lift when the money that would be ‘’wasted’’ could be put into ‘’better’’ use? I’ll leave the interpretation of what is considered ‘better’ to your imagination.

How many magnificent buildings and structures have I rode by just to cringe with disappointment when I walked in and found that the interiors had been overlooked, oh, so badly. Professionalism is respected in other professions: doctors are allowed to be doctors, pilots are given their places of prominence; at least most of the time.

 In most people's vocabularies, design means veneer. It's interior decorating. It's the fabric of the curtains and the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design.

Steve Jobs

 So, why do a lot of people think all interior design entails is placing tables and chairs and rugs to match? I mean, everyone could do that, right? I wonder how many people would go through a surgery if the person conducting the operation introduced himself as a chef or something. Sounds absurd, I know, but that’s how this age long profession has been treated. Toms, Dicks and Harrys are scurrying to simply supply things ignoring the core factors of functionality, client’s preferences, budget and safety, that are so essential in ensuring successful implementations.

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” — Aristotle

If beauty they say is skin deep and I am what I eat and if all that glitters isn’t gold, why shouldn’t we take a tip from these wise sayings and pay more attention to our interiors? Shouldn’t we pause and evaluate how much time and effort we put into ensuring that the heart of the matter, our interiors, is handled with utmost professionalism? We could then take the next step and put maintenance issues in place to keep our interiors in top shape always.

Like our caterer, I believe we are all guilty in one way or the other. Be it what we eat, or how much our offices, bedrooms and bathrooms mean to us. Do we even bother to know whether what we’re using is safe or could trigger off a negative reaction? Do we know what the materials are made from and whether they could affect the health of our young ones and even ourselves? Take a minute and examine yourself and see where and if you’ve been found wanting!

I’m settling down to a bowl of edikaikong; an Akwa Ibom- Nigerian, delicacy. I’m not worried about the taste because I know who made it. She’s been tried and tested. I’ve rarely been disappointed at what she has inside her food. She puts everything needed to ensure what I get is not just tasty but nutritious because she knows I care about my inside.

What about you?

‘There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.’

Victor Hugo