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Even as a child, Di Henshall knew she wanted to be a designer of just about anything and everything — from kitchens and bathrooms, to furniture, homes and resorts. At 11-years-old, her art teacher said her ideas were 'innovative' when she added a roof top garden to her 3D building design project. And today, she has received more than forty awards in the building and design industry, including the HIA Commercial Designer of the Year, the Professional Business Woman of the Year, the Master Builder’s Women in Business Award, and House of the Year. Di Henshall has always been an example of innovation and change. After graduating from art school in Liverpool, at 18, Di landed a job as the Export Designer for the biggest kitchen company in the world, designing showrooms and exhibitions worldwide. Her plans to subsequently open her own shop in Quarry Street were crushed when her mum developed cancer back in Australia. So she returned to Australia, initially working as an interior designer for an architecture firm in Melbourne. Di eventually ended up in Noosa as the Marketing Manager for Noosa Resort and the Noosa International. Although she had little experience in marketing, she quickly realised their premiere conference centre was the drawcard to be promoted, and soon the convention market became the biggest seller for the Noosa International. In 1988, she opened her own shop in Noosa, and spent the next 15 years designing custom furniture and kitchens. At the turn of the century, Di decided to go back to school and obtain a builder’s license. “Lots of people who are decorators call themselves interior designers, without the proper training. Being an interior designer doesn’t have any weight to it. But when you say you’re a builder, then they say, ‘“Crikey! She might actually know something!”’ Clients relax when they find out I’m a builder — there’s extra credibility.” Now with all facets of her business under one roof — Resident Hero Custom Furniture, Kitchens by Resident Hero, and Di Henshall Interior Design — she believes it’s important to give back. “I love teaching, lecturing, writing, and coaching,” says Di. As a changemaker in her industry, Di Henshall has the following advice for would-be interior designers:

ALWAYS ADOPT THE CONSUMER’S POINT OF VIEW —

“I always think as a consumer or as a person that wants the service. What is it that I want? If I was somebody who was organising a conference, what would I want to see, to do, to feel, to hear, to touch, to taste? I think that’s inherent to the interior design side of me. Everything to do with interior design is to do with the senses. When people ask: ‘“What is interior design?”’ I tell them we live it. Houses, cars, work spaces, if all those things — the smell, the touch, the feel — if all those things are in harmony, then you will have a harmonious life.”

KNOW YOUR CLIENT’S PROFILE WELL —

“To be successful in any business, you need to have a profile of your client. You have to know who you’re pitching to. It will help you deliver what they’re expecting. My clients are almost all very well-off financially, well travelled, well educated, time poor (we give them what they haven’t got time for); they don’t suffer fools lightly, they enjoy good wine, good food, entertaining, place a great sense of value on family, they’re environmentally aware, a lot are philanthropic in Australia as well as abroad, they understand and recognise the true value of engaging a professional to help them with something they are not experts in.”

BE YOUR CLIENT’S RESIDENT HERO —

“Everything we do is about houses. We are the hero of the house by creating things to go inside it. People are getting more educated — now everybody travels and people are much more worldly. They are starting to recognise value for money, and want their interiors to reflect their success, their personality, their lifestyle. I’m a conduit between their success and how they want to express their love of their family, love of their lifestyle, love of their success.”

With no plans of stopping any time soon, like her now 89-year-old mother who still teaches anatomy and physiology classes three times a week, Di says, “I don’t think I’m going to bow out gracefully.” She’s got multiple projects that are ongoing, including a winery, a surf club, a public toilet block, and a new house in New Zealand. Still, she jokingly admits that every time she sees a new designer come into her place, she secretly hopes for a hostile takeover!

Di Henshall Interior Design Head Office – Noosaville, Sunshine Coast QLD (07) 5449 0788 www.dihenshall.com.au

www.bmmag.com.au

INTERIOR DESIGN WITH DI HENSHALL

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Matters Magazine Autumn Issue  

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