Memoir Marking The Life of Design Doyenne, Cecile Tilley

Words: Crush

Cécile celebrates the life and work of Cécile Tilley, a design doyenne, style icon and the founder and ongoing inspiration behind renowned interior design studio and retail company, Cécile & Boyd.

The powerhouse of design

Cécile & Boyd is internationally respected for their award-winning hospitality design for Singita, as well as various high-level residential projects around the world – not to mention astonishingly layered and visually captivating stores located in Durban, Cape Town and online.

A South African powerhouse that has successfully redefined the experience of luxury, they have set new standards for the globe.

The Woman behind the Empire

Timed to coincide with the celebration of the company’s 30th anniversary. Cécile is a tribute to the woman behind the name. Whose inimitable courage, creative instincts and inherent charisma inspired all those who crossed paths with her.

The memoir has been painstakingly and lovingly put together on behalf of Cécile & Boyd by creative duo Kerryn Fischer and Luanne Toms.

The beautiful visuals range from archival family snaps to photographs from some of Cécile & Boyd’s early projects.

Although Cécile passed away in 2014, her energy is still alive in the company’s aesthetic and attitude today. The book honours the considerable contribution she made to the interior design landscape of South Africa. She indeed made a personal impact on so many throughout her life.

The book overflows with anecdotes, quotes, and observations by those who knew her best and loved her most. It tells the story of her life while chronicling noteworthy projects- personal and professional. Cécile documents the beginnings of the business that came to be known as Cécile & Boyd, acknowledging Cecile’s contribution to creating what is now one of the country’s most prominent and respected design authorities.

Where it all started

Cécile begins with a foreword by her business partner and friend Boyd Ferguson – the Boyd of Cécile & Boyd. Their unusual transgenerational friendship was emblematic of her as a person – unconventional, dynamic and creative.

The book looks back on her life, from her birth in Mauritius, and through various life events, until her retirement.

It details how her early years in Mauritius shaped her creativity. Her experience there laid the foundations for her appreciation of grandeur and her desire to create a sense of occasion in all moments, no matter how small. It also cemented her love of Creole food and paved the way for her signature, sub-tropically informed and classically inspired style.

Timeless Design

Particularly apparent throughout the book is the respect and admiration that was widely held for Cécile. And it’s clear that her personal qualities – a lack of artifice, great generosity, humour, humility, nonconformism, inclusivity, confidence and a belief in collaboration – all contributed to the company’s identity and reputation for comfortable, timeless and contextually appropriate design.

A pioneer in so many ways – mixing crockery long before it was a trend, decorating Cécile & Boyd’s Durban showroom as an experiential home-like space rather than a store.

As well as showcasing African motifs at a time before it was fashionable to do so. This made her a lifestyle savant and designer ahead of her time.

This sentiment is echoed throughout the book. The rich volume features contributions by a wide variety of personal friends, family, industry acquaintances, and colleagues. All who have offered their memories of Cécile and what she meant to them. How she inspired or influenced their lives and work.

This makes it an essential read for all who knew her personally and the architectural and interior design community at large. Cécile will serve as an inspirational mantra for all those seeking to lay the foundations for success and living life with stylish aplomb.

Where to find the novel

The book is available for sale via Cécile & Boyd at R390. Visit Cécile & Boyd in Durban at 253 Florida Rd in Morningside or call 031 303 1005 for information. The Durban shop is open weekdays from 08h30 -17h00 and on Saturdays from 09h00 to 13h00.

Visit Cécile & Boyd in Cape Town at 26 Kloof Nek Rd in Tamboerskloof, or call 021 424 8890. The Cape Town shop is open weekdays from 09h00 -17h00 and on Saturdays from 09h00 to 13h00.

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