It is often said that the interior design of your home/office has a huge impact on your health, emotions, behavior and productivity.
Celebrating 5 years of improving the total wellbeing of many lives through interior design, Panto Interiors continues to make a significant impact in the design industry in Nigeria.

Miss Freda Anegbe is the brain behind the company. Coming though from a society that pays little attention to the environmental impact on wellbeing, she continues to rise above the challenges with a strong vision, carving a niche in the design industry. She is an executive member of the Interior Designers Association of Nigeria- affiliate member of the International Federation of Interior Designers/Architects (IFI) and a certified Design coach (Spencer Institute). With her background in Entrepreneurial and Business management, she prefers to be called a Design Entrepreneur.

In this interview, we discuss her inspirations, creative process, favorite projects, new design service and more.

Freda Anegbe – CEO, Panto Interiors

Congrats on your new appointment as National Assistant Secretary General of the Interior Designers Association of Nigeria (IDAN).
Thank you

Let’s talk about the association (IDAN). What is it all about and what is your task as the assistant secretary – general?
IDAN is the only professional body governing and advancing the design industry in Nigeria. The body is responsible for addressing major issues that exist in the interior design industry in Nigeria.
I am tasked with working with the executive members of the National Executive Committee, IDAN, to ensuring that we use all platforms available to advance the design industry in Nigeria.

Tell us a bit about your professional background.
I started honing my professional and business skills from the age of 18, while taking up challenging roles in the banking sector right after obtaining a Diploma in Banking and Finance. I have a Bachelors’ degree in Entrepreneurial and Business Management and a Certificate in Management Development from the prestigious London School of Business and Finance, UK.
To harness my passion in interior design, I have done several design-related courses and recently got certified as a design psychology coach.
I am a member of the International Academy for Design and Health, an international affiliate member of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), and an executive member of IDAN.

What inspired you to delve into interior design and how did you get started?
I would say I had it in me since I was a teen; it came with a major issue called OCD.
Professionally, the environment in Nigeria inspired me. I identified a major gap in the market for affordable and creative designs, people were unfamiliar with the term “interior design” and those who were aware had tagged it “luxury”.
I started by registering my company, Panto Interiors, with CAC, registered with the professional body- IDAN, went for several design-related courses, conferences and exhibitions.

Freda Anegbe

Who is an Interior designer?
An interior designer is one who has the professional ability to transform your space to suit your needs. He/she pays attention to the elements and principles of design; aesthetics doesn’t come first as a designer.

What is the story behind Panto Interiors?
The story is long (laughs). Panto Interiors was set up over 5 years ago by my humble self and with the active partnership of the Holy Spirit (truth). My vision for the company was not clear when we started, but as the years and months went by, it became clearer that we are a platform for God to touch many lives. Panto Interiors has been through the fire and storms, like many successful companies; we are not just standing, we keep evolving.

What are the services you offer?
Design psychology consultation for corporate and government institutions, RE-design, and Furnishing.
Through Panto Interiors, we implement design-related social projects also to sensitize people on the impact of design on their total wellbeing and productivity. One of our company’s CSR projects recently done is the renovation and redesign of the National Library of Nigeria, which was aimed at creating a very conducive environment for readers.

Who are your clients?
Young upwardly mobile individuals who can’t afford high – end luxury design services, corporate bodies and government agencies.

What challenges did you face starting out?
Prior to now, we called the contrary winds “challenges” but now we have realized those winds blew us forward. Not to sound spooky, the major challenge when I started, was understanding Nigerians and their various mindset. Our society is one that has no respect for young people.

How would you describe your design style? How varied are your designs and do you have a signature touch with your designs?
Simple and functional. I have had clients ask me “Freda, is that all”? I see the shock on their faces, expecting their living room to be full of furniture and heavy objects. The personality of the client brings the variation in my designs as I have to customize the design for my client.
My signature touch would be the use of colours in the weirdest kind of ways, but still simple.

The demand for interior design is rising, especially in places like Abuja. Apart from the emergence of new buildings, are there other reasons that led to rise in demand?
Oh yes! Nigerians are getting more exposed via travel (offline and online). People are beginning to open their minds to embrace change.
Creativity seems to be making the new trend, not just in Abuja but in the world. The hunger for more creative expression is on the rise, and lastly, IDAN is doing an amazing work as an association by enlightening more people about interior design.

Interior design is a craft that does not really require diploma or degree certificate; once you are familiar with what the industry requires you can go into it.

Are there universities that offer first degree in interior design?
Interior decoration is a craft that doesn’t require professional certificates, but interior design requires some educational and professional certificates/degree.
It is quite unfortunate to say that no university in Nigeria, offers any degree in interior design. IDAN, being the professional body, has been on this issue and we hope it would be a thing of the past.

What is your unique selling point and why should Nigerians choose Panto Interiors over your competitors?
My selling point is affordability. Interior design should be a necessity. As a company, we focus on providing affordable design services. Nigerians should choose Panto Interiors because we truly care about their needs.

What’s something you should never skimp on when designing your home?
Functionality. I won’t stop hammering on that word because people have cluttered their homes and offices with things that are of no use to them or in their space.

How would you describe your interior style?
My interior style is functional, simple and fun. It has to excite the user of the space.

Where do you seek style inspiration?
Honestly, I get much of my inspiration from the structure of the space, from great interior designers I admire, and from the users of the space.

Of all homes/offices you have designed and styled, which has been your favourite?
This is tricky because every design is unique. I would say my favorite was an iHub we did 2 years ago. While a lot of people still ask what country we brought most of the things from, everything was made and designed in Nigeria. It is the most creative, funniest and most stressful (laughs) project we have done till now.

Which room in the home do you enjoy designing and styling the most and why?
Please I have two favorites- the private living room, because it is where couples bond. I love giving it special attention as my design can impact their marriage.
The home study, because it is where entrepreneurs can think better and make sound business decisions. I love to make it a haven.

Can you tell us about the most outlandish room makeover you’ve designed?
A room where the client got about three different contractors; one did the curtain, another did the bed and I accessorized. It was a nightmare! More of a design cocktail that came out badly.

Which trend are you most excited about, working with this year?
Nature- inspired trend. Green would be everywhere this year and I would be championing this also.

Which colour combinations are your favourite to work with?
Yellow and beige.
What are your favourite materials to work with?

Wood (furniture), paint, and leather.
What is your long – term vision for Panto Interiors?
A global household brand known not just for affordable interiors, but for improving the total wellbeing of many lives.

What advice would you give to our readers that are looking to refreshing their interiors?
If your home or office doesn’t inspire and excite you, please refresh the interiors. The interior design of your space has a great effect on your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

What advice do you have for those who desire to start their own business?
Go beyond making money, be value-driven. The business world is a difficult environment, equip yourself with enough knowledge, don’t go for what is popular because your vision is unique to you, and most importantly, understand there’s a force that pushes you into success- GOD.

What decorating techniques would you recommend to a homeowner who wants to update a room without spending a fortune?
You can start by just changing the throw pillows, or de-cluttering your space or repositioning the furniture in your home.

Do you offer training?
For now, we don’t. We recommend people to good design schools or design companies offering such.
How can you be reached?
Visit our website on www.pantointeriors.com.
Thank you