Originally published by Apparel Magazine

RADAR JULY 11, 2023

The world of chartered accounting is vastly different from that of interior design.

Sejal Blackler immigrated to New Zealand in the early 1970s as a Ugandan refugee. Raised in Auckland, Blackler soon moved to London to begin a career as a Chartered Accountant in the London banking sector. Upon a return to New Zealand, Blacker moved into corporate finance until starting up Muros.

Muros is a supplier of decorative European wall panels to the Australasian market, authentically replicating the look and texture of concrete, brick, stone, and wood. This brings a natural depth and dimension to interior walls, which Blackler said assists with bringing clients’ visions to life.

Blackler’s path to into the interior sector was a circumstance of chance. After a meeting with a businessman on a plane, who introduced her to the wall panel concept, Blackler was convinced that she and her husband had the resources to help launch it on the local market.

Muros Roughcast Concrete wall panels in G-Shock retail store.
Casio G-Shock Central Auckland store featuring Muros Roughcast Concrete wall panels.

With the financial, marketing and operational skills under her belt and the global financial crisis of 2008 looming, Blackler joined Muros and has been there for the past 15 years. Throughout her time at Muros, she has become passionate about interior fit-out design and her work.

“Selling a product like ours is a pleasure when you are confident in its ability to satisfy your customers with any look they desire,” said Blackler.

The client mainly indicates the design element for Muros and what their vision and brief are. The team at Muros gain an understanding of a project through discussion and renders, matching the best product design colour with the look they are after.

The lightweight fibre-glass-based decorative panels are handmade in Europe and set Muros’ designs apart. The privately-owned company has built a solid reputation over the past 30 years at the end of faux or veneer panels. The look and feel of natural concrete, brick, stone, and wood are achieved by a clever manufacturing process and moulds/reliefs lifted from real-life walls.

Muros Burnt Red Loft Brick in retail store - Blackwell and Sons.
Blackwell and Sons, featuring Muros Burnt Red Loft Brick – emulating old English brickwork.

Part of the success of Muros is that there are endless possibilities for its clients’ designs. Blackler said that there is one specific area that Muros targets. Instead, there is a wide range of potential clients from different industries, from a restaurant, high street shop, or pop-up store to a long-standing building, workplace or reception area.

The day-to-day job for Blackler is varied and never the same any second day, but with a priority first and foremost on customers. When she’s not meeting with clients, she looks ahead at managing and marketing the business to its optimal potential, keeping up to date with emerging designs and trends.

Communication is something that Blackler relies on, citing it as the most critical contributor to the success of a fitout.

“There are often many stakeholders and views, changing briefs, financial or brand constraints, tight deadlines, supply chain and moving timeframes that make regular communication necessary to ensure there are no surprises and the fit-out is on point, on time and on budget.”

Blackler said that retail and hospitality are the most current and progressive industries she works with, but ensuring clients satisfy ever-changing requirements can be a constant challenge. She added that the company likes to use the wall panels in new and unconventional ways, using them on ceilings, countertops, and columns as well.

“You can see the ‘wow’ factor’. The best result is when the customer wouldn’t have picked the Muros to finish as anything but the real thing. They are an affordable solution without the labour, mess and consent process associated with authentic materials, and can be easily updated with a fresh aesthetic over time.”