Meet The Interior Designer: Neydine Bak, Verhaal Studio
Meet The Interior Designer: Neydine Bak, Verhaal Studio

Meet The Interior Designer: Neydine Bak, Verhaal Studio

As a co-founder of Verhaal Studio, Neydine Bak is also the co-creative behind concept spaces such as Collective Africa, Bungalo34 and Flamingo Room by tashas. Given her discerning eye for style, culture, travel and food, we asked her to tell us about her inspirations, favourite recipes and go-to travel destinations…
By Amrita Singh

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My style is classic but with a personal touch. While I don't necessarily follow trends, I take inspiration from the design world and my own mood. I enjoy wearing unique jewellery – it’s the easiest way to add a bit of flair to a timeless silhouette. Overall, I’d say my style is classically elegant, but infused with distinctive accents that express who I am.

I’m very much drawn to pieces that tell a story – both in the work I do and the clothes I wear. My focus isn’t on brand names, it’s about how each piece makes me feel.  

Overall, I’d say my style is CLASSICALLY ELEGANT, but infused with DISTINCTIVE ACCENTS that express MY OWN EXPERIENCES.

I knew early on that event planning and design was the career path for me. Growing up, I loved special occasions. My mother's passion for entertaining played a significant role in shaping this – I was always very excited in the lead up to events, but I also wanted the experience to be bigger and last longer. It was this that led me towards interior architecture – it’s really given me the chance to curate experiences that are more tangible.

The first people to inspire me were my mother and grandmother. My grandmother played a significant role in nurturing my creative spirit. She understood that creativity was a gift that should be cultivated. Her encouragement really laid the foundation for my love of storytelling and artistic expression. Similarly, my mother influenced me greatly through her love for people and her talent for entertaining.


Now, my inspiration comes from an array of individuals spanning designers, actors and artists. I'm particularly drawn to those who can find beauty in life's simplest moments. Tristan Auer's work has this meticulous attention to detail, while Hugo Toro's talent for infusing his heritage into contemporary designs is nothing short of remarkable. His bridges the gap between tradition and modernity so well. Equally, Laura Gonzalez is fearless in her use of colour and modern materials.

My favourite shops to visit are bookstores – especially when I'm travelling. There's something magical about browsing shelves filled with stories from around the world. It doesn’t matter whether it's a quaint independent bookstore tucked away in a cobblestone alley or a bustling literary hub in a vibrant city. I also love exploring smaller, lesser-known boutiques. These hidden gems often offer unique, handcrafted treasures that capture the local culture and community.

During my recent trip to Sydney, I popped into Playa by Lucy Folk. Inspired by her Moroccan heritage, it was full of colourful and eclectic designs. The jewellery collection was a standout – it was impossible not to bring a piece home with me.

One of the best pieces I’ve ever bought is an embroidered linen kaftan in Lima, Peru. It features traditional stitch details on the puffed sleeves, showcasing the craftsmanship of the local Peruvian artisans who made it. Every time I wear it, I feel special.

Another piece that holds a special place in my heart is from jeweller Pichulik. Renowned for her ability to marry tradition and luxury in her collections, each piece has a unique significance. Whenever I visit South Africa – my home country – I make it a point to stop by her showroom and add something new to my collection. One of my current favourite pieces are the Shimenawa earrings. The intricate details and elegant silhouette are a lovely reminder of my South African roots. 

My preferred colour palette is monochrome, with a dash of gold and silver. I tend to shy away from vibrant colours and instead opt for a more minimalist approach to dressing. I feel most comfortable when the accessories take centre stage. 

One country I love visiting is Italy. There’s so much design inspiration on offer. Wandering through the streets and villas, I find it sparks such creativity. The rich history, architecture, and craftsmanship continually inspire me, and I always leave feeling rejuvenated and full of new ideas.

Of course, I have to say South Africa, too. We make a point to visit every year. The people, the landscapes, and the culture all contribute to an inspiring experience that keeps me coming back year after year. Greece also holds a special place in my heart for its raw and beautiful landscapes. It's tranquil and inspiring in equal measure.


While I don't collect anything specific, my home is filled with wonderful pieces I’ve collected on our travels. Glassware, ceramics, artwork – it all holds memories. Right now, I’m busy collecting non-matching crockery and cutlery. I like the idea of having a table set with playful pieces from different cultures. 

The book that made the biggest impact on me is The Culture Map by Erin Meyer. It was recommended to me by a friend, and reading it has been truly insightful, especially in the context of running a studio in a multicultural city. It’s shed light on various factors, which has been invaluable in fostering effective communication and collaboration within my professional environment. Another is Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. It has been a constant source of guidance for me, particularly in navigating the complexities of the workplace. 

I seldom watch television, but I enjoy films and going to the theatre. I like biopics or documentaries – but the set design in films like Dune: Part II and Jeanne du Barry is also very inspiring. I find it sparks my imagination and inspires new ideas. Different styles of storytelling also help me think outside the box in my own projects. 

Recently, I was lucky enough to stay at Sterrekopje Farm in South Africa. What caught my attention was a peculiar herb they used in some of the dishes and cordials – Agathosma Betulina – which was directly sourced from their garden. The flavour was unlike anything I’d experienced before: pungent, earthy, and phenomenally rich. It was so interesting it even sparked ideas for a new residential project, and the creation of a fragrance. It’s just proof that inspiration can come from anywhere.

My playlist is quite eclectic. Currently, I've been enjoying Tame Impala for feel-good afternoons, Nina Simone's soulful melodies for Sunday morning reading sessions, and retro vibes from the 80s for those days when nostalgia strikes. I also enjoy listening to Purple Disco Machine, especially when it's time to dance with the kids. The upbeat and funky tunes never fail to lift the mood and get everyone moving.

I love to cook. When I'm in the kitchen, I often turn to recipes from some of my favourite chefs and cookbook authors, such as Ottolenghi, Donna Hay, and Thali. Recently, I've been experimenting with recipes from Matt Lindsay, the renowned chef and restaurateur behind Sydney's Ester. A standout dish is the tamari prawn and fried caper prawns. The flavours were incredible. 

My favourite piece of furniture is a pedestal cabinet my partner and I found on the road in Sri Lanka. It’s painted in a myriad of colours and adorned with intricate motifs but what makes it truly special is the process behind its creation – the artist explained to us how he made the colours using dust from various timbers that reacted with acid. Hearing about the techniques involved in making this piece was so interesting. Every time I look at it, I'm reminded of the joy of finding hidden treasures in unexpected places.

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