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Michael D’Souza in his 16th century tapestry mill home in Mortlake, London

1. July 15, 1999. 'Fast Track - CV - A career in the life of Michael D'Souza, Entrepreneur'
2. Sunday Mirror. April 09, 2000. 'dot. com - Where to pick the best buys for your home'
3. The Times. April 12, 2000. 'Wonderful world of the web.'
4. The Times. May 10, 2000. 'The home 'alone time' office - Homes - Property. By Ana Urena'
5. Birmingham Post. May 27, 2000. 'Home is now where the computer is'
6. The Guardian. July 27, 2000. 'Cybershopping.. By Helen Brooks'
7. International Herald Tribune. March 12, 2002. 'Custom-made chic is edging out brands'
8. . March 23, 2002. 'International man of history'
9. Evening Standard. Jan 08, 2003. 'Be my guest. By Katie Campbell.'
10. March 26, 2003. 'Take It Home'
11. Evening Standard. May 21, 2003. 'A unique design made to order By Barbara Chandler.'
12. Evening Standard. Dec 03, 2003. 'Hide and chic ; Designer Michael d'Souza grew up on the hill stations of India. He has brought his love for the crafts he found there into his 16th century tapestry mill in Mortlake.'

Date: 15 July 1999
Fast Track - CV - A career in the life of Michael D'Souza, Entrepreneur
BY: Kate Hilpern.

Michael D'Souza, 40, "escaped" from high-powered marketing posts for clients including Polo Ralph Lauren and Coca-Cola to become the brains behind Mufti, a new line of home furnishings. He claims he has never had such complete creative freedom in the world of marketing.

I went to school in India where I spent more time learning sports than anything academic. In hindsight, however, I believe that held me in excellent stead for my career because sport is all about interaction and breaking down barriers - essentials in the marketing world. It was for the same reason that I chose to study psychology as well as economics for my BA. I think people often underestimate the "people" side of the business.

To my parents' horror, I quit my first graduate job in advertising - also in India - to backpack around the States for six months. It was great fun and taught me a lot about surviving in an unfamiliar culture. In fact, it was there that I did my MBA - a qualification that many people in marketing consider invaluable. I disagree. Whilst it might open doors for graduates, a great deal more can be learnt by spending a couple of years on the job.

My first major post was at Lowe and Partners, an advertising firm in New York. That was an amazing experience because the advertising industry is so disciplined in America. Clients expect you to be actively involved in all aspects of their business.

In 1991, I joined McCann's as vice president worldwide account director on Coca-Cola. Whilst there, the year I spent in Bangkok was one of the most insightful. It was meant to be a month-long project to change the management. But in Thailand, if one member of management gets "let go", the rest of the team tend to walk out with them. It evolves from a unique sense of loyalty among staff which I wouldn't have understood, or have been able to find solutions for, had I been doing the same work from the States. Indeed, it always amazes me how tunnel-visioned some companies can be when they enter a new market. You have to understand the culture you're entering rather than imposing your culture.

Shortly after returning, I was poached to become manager of brand marketing for Diet Coke worldwide based at its headquarters in Atlanta. There, I spearheaded the strategic shift that involved repositioning the $1.5bn Caffeine Free Diet Coke against the fast-growing 40-plus consumer - a first for Coca-Cola and the soft drink industry which had traditionally focused on the younger generation.

Four years later, the corporate world began to get me down. The stability and financial rewards are huge. But the amount of effort required to take an idea from start to finish is ridiculous because of the endless layers of managers - who each feel they have to justify their existence, so even if they have nothing constructive to contribute they feel compelled to say something. The result is that it usually waters down the concept and unnecessarily lengthens the process. Mind you, if the idea is a good one, it's amazing how many people start angling for credit. I found the higher you rise in the corporate world, the more time you spend dealing with company politics and the less time you spend on the issue at hand.

I thought I'd give it one more go, however, as senior vice president and director of marketing on Polo Ralph Lauren. I remember my first presentation which consisted of an analysis on the brand's weaknesses and competitive threats to help fuel growth. I soon found out that this was politically incorrect and it felt as though all the company really required was for me to say the "nice" things that would please "The Man" at the helm.

That was when I started work on Mufti. I took a year studying the market and realised there was a gap which I could fill. I went for casual sophistication to provide a sense of serenity in today's fast-paced world. And on the environmental side, since everything is created by hand using only natural materials, customers can take comfort in the fact that they are doing their part for the natural world. Two-and-a-half years later, it's still going from strength to strength.

I would always encourage anyone interested in having a true impact in marketing not to be snooty about working for small companies - or better still venture out on your own. Sure, you can learn a lot from the corporate world, and I'd advise any graduate who gets the opportunity to work in that environment to grab it with both hands because the training and discipline is invaluable. But in the long run, if you want real control, bigger is not necessarily better. Going out on a limb is the way to play this game.

Date: 9 April 2000
dot. com - Where to pick the best buys for your home

TABLE LINEN Takes time to load up its images but once there you're in designer Michael d'Souza's world of natural fibres and raw materials. Raw silk napkins cost £6, leather placemats £28, and a silver ashtray £8. Free delivery within two weeks.

Date: 12 April 2000
Wonderful world of the web.
For text see

Date: 10 May 2000
The home 'alone time' office - Homes - Property. By Ana Urena.
For text see

Date: 27 May 2000
Home is now where the computer is.
BY: Jo Ind.

Designer Michael D'Souza the ex-marketing director of Polo, Ralph Lauren and Coca Cola, has set up Mufti, which sells furniture over the Internet.

His concern is to develop home office furniture so that it is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

At the moment 'cold' seems to be the word that epitomises furniture to accommodate the computer.

Desks tend to be bland, made from a mean wood and of a design that would fit into any office while looking just plain ugly in the home.

Michael has made a leather desk especially for home computer user.

Leather is an interesting choice of material because it is warm and luxurious in contrast to the cheap wood that most home office desks are made from.

With leather being very much in fashion for three-piece suites, it has an unashamedly contemporary look and yet would not look out of place in a period home either, as leather is also the oldest of fabrics. Costing around #1,500, it is already selling very well.

Another solution to the problem of having a beautiful desk for a computer is to have one made especially for you.

After all, if most furniture designers are failing to be imaginative, there's nothing to be lost by letting your own imagination do the task.

Artifex in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham has a range of furniture designers who can make desks to your exact specifications.

Likewise Michael makes bespoke desks out of reclaimed Burmese teak, which start at £650.

Another difficulty when it comes to designing computer desks is that people's needs are different.

Unlike a sofa, which basically just needs to be big and comfy enough to loll on, desks for computers have a wide range of different uses to accommodate.

Some families want to have desks so they are big enough for two children to use at the same time.

Some need space for a scanner, printer, speakers, PC and big 17-inch screen while others have a laptop and use the scanner and printer so rarely that they can afford to hide them away in a drawer.

The advantage of having a bespoke desk is that you can have it exactly as you want it.

Issues to consider when designing your own computer desk are:

Do you need to have a computer with a separate hard drive or is a laptop sufficient?

How often do you use your scanner and printer? Would you prefer to have them hidden in a drawer or on the desk for easy access?

Would you like your keyboard and mouse on top of the desk, or would you like a sliding drawer designed so that they can slip back under the desk when you are not using them?

Do you need space for books and papers alongside the computer? If so you might like to have a long desk or a desk in a corner with a chair on wheels, so you can slide from one work area to the other.

Would you like to have a hole in your desk to put your computer cables through or would you like your desk to double up as an occasional dining table when you take the computer off? Another way of hiding cables is to design a desk with hollow legs and lead the cables through them. Don't forget the additional cables for your lamp and your telephone.

How much additional storage space do you need for books and files? Drawers built into the desk can be useful but they do detract from the possibility of combining the function of desk and dining table.

If you find the sight of a computer just too much, then why not have a whole cupboard, rather than a simple desk designed? That way you could close the doors on the desk at the end of the working day and not have to look at a blank computer screen all evening.

Michael says that another effect of having computers at home is that men are taking more interest in interior design.

He says that without a doubt there is a rapidly increasing number of men shopping at his Mufti store.

'Men are now more knowledgeable about design and interiors and are rejecting cheap high street furniture for quality products either made to specification or with design pieces made to last.

'There's no reason why it should be the case, but just as men tend to do most of the buying of cars, so men tend to buy the computers.'

Because men are buying the computers, they then develop an interest in the computer furniture.

Michael also claims that working from home is alerting men to their home surroundings, therefore making them more interested in shopping for interiors.

The leather desk is particularly popular with men, while the ones made of Burmese teak tend to be more popular with women.

Developing the leather theme, Michael has created leather bookcases, leather stools with suede drawers and leather filing cabinets.

Filing cabinets are another example of an item of furniture which tends to be particularly ugly, though there is no reason why they should be.

The key to having a computer in the home is to be imaginative about the way it can be accommodated.

Ultimately home design around computers can only get better. Let's be honest, it could hardly be worse than it is at the moment.

Until then, and until computer designers decide to consider the aesthetics of their hardware, we will have to settle for developing our own distinctive sense of computer style.

Mufti can be seen at or at 789, Fulham Road, London SW6 5HD.

Artifex can be found on the Weeford Road, Sutton Coldfield, telephone 0121-323-3776.

Date: 27 July 2000
Cybershopping.. By Helen Brooks
Fans of Mufti the homewares range created by Michael D'Souza no longer need travel to London's Fulham Road, for his Burmese teak beds and leather letter racks which are now available from Browse for hand-crafted furnishings and accessories.

Source : International Herald Tribune Date: 12 March 2002
Custom-made chic is edging out brands
BY: Oliver Horton
According to Mufti's Michael D'Souza, the trend toward custom- made has grown as designer fashion has become more accessible. "You have to go one step further when your builder's wearing the same shirt as you," he said. "People particularly like the fact that they can have input. We're almost doing more bespoke furniture than the standard side."

Date: 23 Mar 2002
International man of history
Relics of the Raj, hand-crafted Zulu tableware, a battered trumpet from the birthplace of jazz -Michael D’Souza’s flat is packed with piecesinspired by his travelsand his past. Fiona Reidakes the grand tour

New york, India, Africa, Putney. It’s an unlikely final destination for a former Manhattan advertising guru to end up. But even more off-the-wall is that Michael D’Souza dropped out of the rat-race to start an interiors company despite the fact that he doesn’t even own his flat.

When he quit the Big Apple four years ago, Michael had only intended to rent for six months in London. Yet today, the light, airy Putney flat he moved into is still home. "I wish I could put down hardwood floors," he admits, "and I’d take the fireplace back to its original condition. But when it comes to light and space, in four years I haven’t found a place I preferred."

So how do you stamp your personality on a flat you can’t redecorate? Michael has managed it. His impressive living-room is trademark D’Souza, a compelling mix of influences, from souvenirs of his time in New York to echoes of a childhood spent in India. Many of the pieces are his own designs - the leather Shikari chairs and the hand-woven cushions lining the window seat, for example - and the idea behind them is simple. "Having a sense of serenity is very important," he says. "I learned that in Manhattan; there’s so little space that people make a sanctuary where they live. But more than anything it’s the uniqueness in each piece that appeals to me, finding something I haven’t seen before."

The place is full of such one-off discoveries. A painting by Indian artist Nina Gimmi sits on the mantelpiece, alongside ceramic bowls from Turkey and an old trumpet from a fleamarket in upstate New York. "It looks like it’s been through the wars," he says of the battered instrument, "and that gives it a sense of character and history." The international tour doesn’t stop there, either; on the table, a bowl hand-woven by Zulu tribeswomen holds ostrich eggs Michael found on a trip to Africa, while the long wooden cabinet nearby originally belonged to a Mexican monastery.

"I tend to go off the beaten track," he says, and it’s a journey that has taken him from North to South America and back to India where, he reflects, "there’s a whole bunch of places most people would be scared to go into. But you find these amazing craftsmen working their trade; even the old stools they’re sitting on, people would go mad for them in London."

It was this passion for collecting such obscure objects that convinced Michael to pack in his marketing career in the US (where he had worked for the likes of Coca-Cola and Ralph Lauren) and head back to London to set up Mufti. Inspired by the craftsmanship in the everyday things he came across while growing up in India, his interiors company takes its name from an old military word - Michael’s father was a general in the Indian Army - for the one day of the week that staff could go to work wearing "civvies".

"It wasn’t about wearing your flip-flops and ratty shorts," Michael explains. "It was smart but with a comfort element to it." This is the look he now strives for in his home; the pristine white sofas, classically simple, are complemented by intricate, luxurious details, from the hand-woven suede throw to the antique leather hatboxes, placed alongside his father’s old army uniform. But whether it’s from India, Africa or the junk shop round the corner, Michael has only one rule: "I don’t want to define what I’m doing from one culture. It’s all smart casual, regardless of where it comes from." n

Call Mufti on 020 7610 9123 or visit the mail-order website at

nothing going on but the rent

Above, left to right: Hand-woven silk cushions, from £27, Mufti; ostrich eggs were bought in Africa, the basket, £110, was woven by a Zulu tribeswoman; the Thai statue was a leaving gift from colleagues in Bangkok, the trumpet from a fleamarket in New York

STOCKISTS habitat (0845 601 0740); mufti (020 7610 9123)

past and present

Main picture: Leather and reclaimed teak Shikari chairs, £385, and matching teak coffee table, from £625, Mufti; sofas bought in New York, try Habitat’s Utah, from £599, for a similar look; the artwork above the fireplace is by Nina Gimmi

above: Michael’s father’s army uniform; leather hat boxes found in an antique shop

Date: 8 January 2003
Be my guest. By Katie Campbell.
Smart casual: Mufti is Michael d'Souza's Chelsea shop that specialises in simple but sophisticated furniture.

Materials used are either reclaimed or natural stuff: Burmese teak planter's chairs ( £825), cashmere and linen throws in ochres and beiges, oyster linen sofas and tobacco leather-plaited chairs.

They come in standard sizes but if you prefer something tailor-made to suit the dimensions of your home, Mufti will undertake bespoke commissions, too.

Mufti, 789 Fulham Road, SW6 (020 7610 9123).

Date: 26 March 2003
Take It Home
BY: Madeleine Lim.
New at Mufti on Fulham Road is a leather wardrobe with off-white stitched detail - a modern interpretation of the old linen press. Built in two pieces for ease of delivery and assembly, it has hanging space and leather-lined drawers. Mufti is a lifestyle interiors shop that sells original, elegant designs in leather and natural raw materials. Owner Michael D'Souza's philosophy is based on minimalism, discerning design, clean lines and interesting textures - but with the emphasis always on the comfortable and livable. The shop also offers a bespoke service to rework or commission furniture and accessories to customers' exact specifications.

Leather cupboard, £2,800, at Mufti, 789 Fulham Road SW6 (020-7610 9123);

Date: 21 May 2003
A unique design made to order By Barbara Chandler
Commissioning bespoke furniture for your home need not break the bank.

This is a fear that Michael D'Souza is determined to dispel. The atmosphere of his shop, Mufti, is permeated with the tang of leather, a material he loves to use in engaging ways: you can even order a leather bookcase or chest of drawers. Showing me round two floors of simple, elegant designs in materials that also include solid wood, rattan, glass, linen, cashmere and silk, D'Souza says: "A surprising amount of what we sell is made to order. We do everything from a set of napkin rings to a wardrobe or four-poster bed. People are thrilled when they find that pieces can be made in a different size, or in different materials or even in a different style.

"We don't charge a premium for this service, and can usually deliver in eight weeks."

The furniture at Mufti is made at various workshops - some in England and some in India, where solid Burma teak reclaimed from demolished colonial houses is used. Bookcases are the most popular made- to- measure item - Mufti uses mainly solid wood and/ or leather. "There simply isn't a standard size for a bookcase," D'Souza observes, "nor for books". As an example, a recent order for a bookcase 110cm-wide by 105cm-high by 28cmdeep in solid reclaimed Burma teak cost pounds 625.

Apart from the practicality of making furniture fit, D'Souza believes people commission to express their individuality. "But it works best when clients are adapting, rather than creating from scratch. Visualising is very difficult without a lot of experience." Today, computers and the internet are vital: "We do endless drawings to achieve perfection but can email workshops on the other side of the world in a flash."

Date: 3 December 2003
Hide and chic ; Designer Michael d'Souza grew up on the hill stations of India. He has brought his love for the crafts he found there into his 16th century tapestry mill in Mortlake
BY: Katrina Burroughs
FROM Michael d'Souza's Mortlake living room, you can watch shivering rowers toil past on the chilly Thames, while you are cocooned by the opulent textures and delicious colours of leathers, animal skins, silks and linens that are the designer's trademark. Born in the rather more temperate climate of Goa, southern India, into a military family, d'Souza thrived on the constant changes of army life. "We - my mother and eight brothers and sisters - moved, mostly around the hill stations of India, every three years," he says. These years proved to be the inspiration for "Mufti" (meaning "smart casual" or "civilian dress worn by a military type"), the shop he opened to sell his distinctive range of furniture and fabrics when he came to the UK six years ago after forsaking the corporate ladder in New York, where as a young man he worked in advertising.

His present home is part of a converted 16th century Dutch tapestry mill, a building with the special appeal of an industrial space that has been semi-domesticated - Mufti's warehouse is also part of the property. When he first set eyes on it, it was a dilapidated shell with "lots of potential". He loved the sense of history it conveyed and its links to traditional craftsmanship, its position, the view and the fabric of the place, but hated the layout - so he set a deadline of a month and a budget of 25,000 to turn it upside down.

There was a lot to be done. The front door used to lead directly to the bathroom, while the kitchen and sitting room either side of it were poky and dark. A spindly ladder led to the upstairs space, a loft once used by the tapestry-makers as a work room, but more recently used to house a massive boiler.

D'Souza got the builders in and within the month two walls came down to make one gallery-style living room and a kitchen downstairs. Steps were built and the loft space converted into bedrooms, while the bathroom was shifted upstairs.

Being a practical soul, d'Souza decided to do the rest himself, including all the decoration and fitting the kitchen - although he admits work proceeded "slowly, slowly" after the professionals finished. He purposely left the rooms plain, adding few modern fixtures - no fitted wardrobes, meagre shelving and no bookcases - to let the historic walls speak for themselves.

Off-white painted floors, walls and ceilings are extravagantly criss-crossed with the bare timbers of the original oak frame.

Furnishings are mainly d'Souza's own design, often prototype pieces, handcrafted and heavy on the natural materials, earth colours and unrefined textures of stout leathers, skins, silks and linens, with splashes of colour provided by his favourite extravagance - flowers. The result is blissful. He says: "What I love about the place is it's so tranquil. To me, it's all about textures and making it serene and soothing and calm." An atmosphere his seven-year-old daughter enjoys when she comes to stay. D'Souza and his wife are no longer together.

The house may be historic, but the kitchen is a strictly contemporary brushed-steel and frosted-glass affair. The kitchen units are by Alno, bought from John Lewis, and a huge Miele refrigerator, a brushed-steel monolith, takes pride of place in the corner. D'Souza is particularly fetishistic about the fridge: "It was a bit of an extravagance, but I had to have it. It's such a wonderful shape, softened by a curve on the front."

At the heart of the room is a Mahoot dining table (so called because of the elephant-like chunky curved legs) from Mufti, handmade from reclaimed Burmese teak and stained to a dark-treacle hue. Burmese teak was the highest quality timber available and, during the British Raj, all the old bungalows were made from this venerable material. The old buildings in India are coming down to make way for modern high rises, so d'Souza is able to source plenty of high-quality reclaimed wood from a salvage dealer in Bombay. He does much of the furniture design for Mufti himself, and has it made up by people who have been with him from the beginning. "When I started Mufti I put together a team of craftsmen, who have been with me for seven years now. They are mostly from Bengal, based just outside Bombay."

Deep sofas, piled with cushions and lit by guinea-fowlfeathered standard lamps, mark out the sitting area from the kitchen. The cushions are covered in the most gorgeous fabric, a little-known Indian delicacy called Tusser silk, somewhere between taffeta and raw silk. D'Souza says: "One of the advantages of life as a military brat was that I got to see different parts of the country, all with their own crafts and traditions. My mum was very creative, and whatever was available in the area - a special type of sari, a certain style of weaving - I'd learn about it by osmosis." Thus, when he came to start his own business, not only was he able to source fantastic half-forgotten materials, he also managed to recruit some of the dwindling group of skilled makers who could produce small quantities of beautifully finished pieces.

Nowadays, d'Souza has cast his net a little wider and imports linen from Belgium and woven baskets and animal skins - such as the zebra skin that lounges across his sitting room floor - from Africa.

UPSTAIRS, the floor is dotted with hand-knotted rugs from Kashmir and Bhutan. Sunlight slants through the linen blinds and lights up the various shades of tobacco and tan of the furnishings: the distinctive Mufti bed - a contemporary take on the traditional sleigh - and all manner of leather-clad desks, chests and baskets.

Clutter is kept to a minimum; a couple of artfully antiquated pairs of riding boots beside the bed seem to be the only tricksy designer touch in the flat. On enquiry, however, it turns out that, true to his military roots, d'Souza gets up before 6am every morning and rides out with the Household Cavalry in Hyde Park. "It is the most perfect part of my day," he says.


. Mufti, 789 Fulham Road, SW6 (020 7610 9123,

There you can find: Mahoot dining table from 1,250; Tusser silk cushions from 35; Guinea-fowl-feathered lamp shade from 90; Mufti bed from 1,475; woven leather basket from 150; leather desk from 1,520.

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