Creating functional living spaces  

Sifiso Fakude

You would expect Sifiso Fakude and Mbuso Grootboom, both 22-year old architectural designers barely out of the lecture room, to be learning their ropes in some posh architectural firm in Sandton as apprentices. But with a knack for risk-taking, they firmly believed they would utilise their talents better as entrepreneurs than employees. And from what Transform SA Online has gathered, the two young men are reveling in the thrill of creating living and working spaces for people.

Grootbroom and Fakude, who describe themselves as people-centered, established SF ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNS  three years ago. The company’s specialises in distinctive architectural draughtsman services, craftsmanship and design.

Conscious that the company is in a congested field in which competition is stiff, Fakude, who serves as the company’s managing director, says the best way is to stand out from the rest of the pack. “Our vital advantage  is that we are passionate about our work, and treat each client’s design on its own merit, as we believe that each design has its own story to narrate. Unlike an increasing number of organisations these days, we do not just cut, copy and paste what we see on the internet, but try to come up with our own ideas that will relate better to clients’ requirements. Simply put, we just don’t draw a structure, but we design from scratch.”

SF ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNS other equally important objective is to inspire all unemployed Architectural designers and they too can establish their own businesses, explains Fakude. “We don’t have to look for jobs, but we can start our own companies, even though finding projects and building a profile is big challenge.”

Shedding more light on this approach, Grootboom believes S.F ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNS sees its objective beyond profit, creating a platform where other the generation of designers, who have just graduated to gain much needed experience and move on to bigger firms to realise their dreams. “Personally, as someone who has faced challenges as a young South African graduate,  I identify with the plight of my peers.”

Nonetheless,  though Grootboom, who serves as the head designer, describes SF ARCHITECTURAL SERVICES, as a “ business empire in the making”,  he admits that the company is not yet at a stage where it can employ people.   “Right now, we are looking at employing at least one student on an internship basis and help horn his or her skills.”

In due course, he reveals, the company is looking to bring aboard, one or two professionals specialising in urban design as well as landscape design  to grow the company’s clientele and build project portfolio.

The business is founded on the strong relationship between the partners, which has made it weather storms. Fakude speaks glowingly about Grootbroom’s calming influence.  “ Mbuso GROOTBOOM has been with this company from it’s conceptualization and his one of the main reason it’s where it is and where it’s going this far. As far I am concerned, I have never seen someone who is forward thinking, oozes innovative ideas and is very passionate about architecture.”

According to Fakude, the two partners complement each other very well, one can’t work without the other. “I’m more of a business man than a designer and Mbuso (Grootbroom) is more of a designer then a business man. We are well balanced as a company.”

For Fakude,  entry into the world of entrepreneurship has been one roller-coaster experience. He is frank to admit that he became an entrepreneur by default. Entrepreneurship wasn’t his first, second or certainly third priority. Given a choice then he wanted to secure a job in some other sophisticated architectural firm in town, and nothing beyond that.

“I decided to venture into business because I couldn’t find a job myself.  It started as an idea that I didn’t even think it would get this far, initially the name of the company was “S.F DRAFTING COMPANY”, being an Architectural Draughtman. But I soon changed the name to “S.F ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNS” which didn’t limit the company as a draughting company but all areas in architectural design.”

Having been in the industry for only three years and accustomed to confronting challenges almost  daily, Fakude acknowledges that more trials and tribulations lie ahead.  However, he says they will make him a better entrepreneur.  “Challenges build and teach me a lesson every time, though sometimes the hard way. But there is always a moral in every experience.”

Fakude says the most important thing he has learnt is how to sustain sound relationships with customers, no matter their temperament. “I have learnt that the “Customer is king” no matter what.”

Indeed, what teaches us to be good at our calling better than experience!

Persuaded to disclose SF ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNS’ future plans, Fakude refers Transform SA Online to Grootbroom, who says: “S.F architectural designs aims to be involved in projects in townships where there is a gap of quality housing due to the legacy of apartheid. In addition, we have noticed, with regret about few black individuals in the engineering and construction sector.”

S.F. ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNS is located at: Unit 1F19, Cnr Van Dyk and Boksburg Road, Van Dyk Secure Business Park, Boksburg Industrial East, Boksburg

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