SPACES

S PA C E S JAC DE VILLIERS

On entering a new space my reaction is not dissimilar to that of meeting a person for the first time: It’s about first impressions that create an emotional and tangible response, affected by the decor - the mood of a room - the architecture of a building, or the nature of a landscape. This book is a collection of spaces that have moved or excited me in some way and about the people who created them. Frank Gehry’s dazzling Disney Concert Hall in Downtown Los Angeles mixes architecture and sculpture. Seamless skins skirt and swerve along curves with ever-changing tangents. Says Gehry: “Architecture and any art can transform a person, even save someone. It can for children - for anyone. It still does for me.” Jac de Villiers S P A C E S Disney Concert Hal l, Los Angeles

E I GHT HUNDRED AND E I GHT MUTUAL HE I GHTS Elle Deco’s editor Laureen Rossouw’s apartment at Mutual Heights in Cape Town, is filled with her collection of objects and furniture of old leather, brass, chrome, steel and wood and sits comfortably with the architecture of the building, which was constructed as an office block in 1940. Using the raw space of the apartment cleverly, Rossouw created an asymmetrical stainless steel kitchen split by the front entrance hall, with the cooking area on the right and the larder on your left as you enter. Elle Deco

The kitchen flows seamlessly into an open plan dining area and a lounge. The main bedroom, located to the left of the lounge, has a simple bed and a voluptuous lambskin Scandinavian rocking chair. The colour palette of the room is cream, brown, black and grey. t’s a beautiful room. The library, located to the right of the lounge, is less restrained. It’s the room where Rossouw let her hair down, where she felt free to play. Eight hundred and eight Mutual Heights, with its high ceilings and herringbone parquet flooring, contains the rich living portfolio of a spirited stylist.

My favourite bathroom is located at Dutch designer Harry Poortman’s guesthouse at number one Rustc Road, Cape Town.The space is slick, open and minimalist. ON E R U S T I C ROA D

Seemingly defying the laws of gravity, Grant Bacon’s Higgovale house is delicately balanced on seven slanted concrete pillars, not unlike fingers, holding up a box. Large windows and sliding doors create a close proximity with the surrounding forest. Inside tall grey wardrobes and cupboards merge visually with the concrete walls to create a neutral backdrop to Grant’s furniture and mounted travel photographs. BALANC I NG ACT

KAROO FARM Hannes Myburgh and Hymie Gubbins’ Thorn Springs farm is located in the Middelburg district of the Groot Karoo in the Eastern Province of South Africa. A wide stoep wraps around the sprawling stone homestead, capped by an elegant, low-pitched corrugated iron roof. The interior is sparsely furnished, giving each piece of furniture and object a sense of importance.

DUTCH GENEROS I TY It seems that Dutch architect, Harry Poortman, designed his stylish Cape Town guest house - Number One Rustic Road - around his large glossy grey bathroom. It conveys his generous attitude towards design and, I believe, towards life itself.

House & Leisure

The suburb of Rugby, located between the N1 and the notorious Koeberg Road, where low life is on duty 24/7, is trendy Cape Town’s bleak terrain - its zef side as Jack Parow would call it - the unfashionable area that’s not earmarked for gentrification. Thank God. It makes good sense that the late Aida Uys and her partner Braam Theron chose Rugby to create their home, for they never followed trends. They set them. To me they were the most stylish couple the Cape has ever seen. Period. Style is really undefinable and yet tangible for it touches your senses. I feel I can sense, almost instinctively, when I meet someone with style. It’s not a big deal, it’s simply being aware as a photographer. It’s my job. When I met Aida, some time in the 80’s, she was wearing an embroided silk blouse under an old leather jacket, a man’s khaki trousers with turn ups, Wupperthal boots, delicate gold jewellery, vintage leather gloves and her hair in a bun, as she got off her black Triumph motorbike. Mounted on the back of the bike was a basket that Braam had made for her to carry Ysbeer, their cross-wire-haired terrier, her travel companion wherever she rode. Braam and Aida collected stuff - lots of it - tons of it. Their house was filled with objects, some chosen for their usefulness, some for fun and some for sheer folly. There were anglepoises, model planes, coins, compasses, masks, telescopes, bangles, tools, ropes, and helmets. And there were gems like a glove finger stretcher (honestly), a peach peeler, a boot button hook ….. Braam rents out props to the film industry with a quirky inverted financial policy, which he explains: “The more you rent, the more you pay”.”If you want to rent one coffee flask you pay, say, R30, but if you want 40 flasks - which I have in stock – you pay R60 each, for the chance of you finding 40 of the same is very small, so you pay more!” A WOMAN CALLED A I DA A t r i bu t e t o a r ema r k ab l e Woman Visi magazine

Braam was really Aida’s romantic handyman. Because Aida took tea brewed from a pot (tea bags were strictly non-U), tradition dictated that Braam would make her a tea strainer for every birthday. This tender detail is what made their liaison so special, so complimentary. Birrie le Roux, who works in the film industry, was a very close friend of Aida. She defines Aida’s spirit in a succinct and insightful way: “To live in such an overstimulating environment, where you add new things to it all the time, you have to have a place in your mind where there’s a quiet calmness. I think Aida always had that. She was naturally serene. And she had a very strong sense of her own style and who she was – and I think that Braam enhanced that - It was a combined thing because Aida and Braam had that perfect sense of style, with clothes, with food, with the way they lived, the cars they drove, The way they did everything came naturally. They did everything in a considered way, and with care long before everyone was into good food and natural things. They were completely different to anyone else that I’ve ever met.” Aida was once asked what her ideal living situation would be. Her answer was simple: “I want Braam to build me a room on top of the garage, furnished only with my piano, and a window with a view of the sea.” Why do we live where we do? Because we do not seek safe havens And because of friends Braam and Aida. Aida died in February this year. I will miss her. Jac de Villiers

HOUTHU I S I E Psychiatrist Dr. Pieter Cilliers restored Houthuisie, his family holiday wooden cottage, in a most sensitive and sustainable way. Located in Robberg on the Eastern Cape Coast of South Africa – an area known for ostentacious rather than subtle design – Houthuisie stands as a statement in humility of man’s relationship to his habitat. By using materials like recycled timber for structures and furniture, Cilliers created – not in spite of but probably because he did not use a profesional architect – a home with intrtegrity, warmth and a stamp-size carbon footprint. Visi

BRETT ’ S PLACE In the nineteen eighties artist Brett Murray was known as the infant terrible of the local art scene. Today he’s the middle aged version of this phenomenon. In fact, he seems to be getting more and more terrible with age, judging from his recent antics. He’s really very down to earth, clever, playful, funny and quite brave taking on the ruling establishment in his satirical artworks. He shares a very unique home with his lovely wife and fellow artist Sanell Aganbach and their two children. Their historic house in Woodstock, outside Cape Town, is filled with art and personal objects grouped together in a quirky way. House & Leisure magazine

GARAGE SPACE Tasha Tyler isn’t one for trends. That said, she’s been uncannily adept at being ahead of them. She was, for example, an early adopter of the Balinese decor trend in South Africa, having established a successful business importing and selling one-of-a-kind pieces from Indonesia in the late ’90s. And when, more than a decade later, the business had run its course and she was left with two storage spaces filled to the rafters with remaining stock, she applied the principles of reigning keep-it-neat queen Marie Kondo to help sort and sell anything she didn’t want any more. “It’s so liberating to look at your possessions, acknowledge that they played a part in your life, and then let them go,” says Tasha, seated in the airy lounge area of her studio apartment on Cape Town’s Kloof Street. Last year, Tasha fell back on Kondo’s famous Konmari method when she relocated from a one-bedroom flat in Sea Point to her current residence, a 38 m 2 converted double garage on the property of her partner, photographer Jac de Villiers. “Even though I’ve lived in large homes, I’ve always been attracted to small spaces with an edge,” says Tasha. “When you move to a smaller space, you stop constantly buying new things. Instead, every item you have in your home is considered. Something you find beautiful. Something significant.” This approach translates into an open-plan space punctuated by small, overlapping islands of activity, adorned in carefully chosen vintage finds, heirlooms and art. Bucking convention, the heart of Tasha’s home isn’t the kitchen but a Cape-style tolletjie bed dressed in luxurious offwhite linen and flanked by a pair of original Anglepoise lamps in Tasha’s favourite colour, sage green. Above the bed, a pair of framed photographs from Jac’s Vetplant series completes the tranquil vignette. “I do everything on my bed: relax, organise events, count my money…” says Tasha with a laugh, referring to the takings from her regular weekend gig heading up the coffee stall on Market Day at Oranjezicht City Farm Market. Another hotspot in Tasha’s home is the lounge area, where she loves sinking into a mid-century chrome lounger that offers a great vantage point from which to admire her art collection. An especially sentimental piece for Tasha is an Alice Goldin silkscreen print of a krans called Die Spuitgat (The Blowhole) in Arniston/ Waenhuiskrans, the site of family holidays when Tasha was growing up. “You know how my brother raps he was born in the Spur?” she says of her sibling Zander, whose alter-ego is Jack Parow. “Well, my sister Tanya and I were basically born under that rock!” Extending the floor space, Tasha’s lounge opens out to a courtyard that houses her collection of succulents, a linen sun lounger where she soaks up some vitamin D, and an outside shower. Also opening out to the courtyard is Tasha’s bathroom. Clad in gleaming white tiles from top to bottom, it’s spare and modern, with the only embellishments being thoughtfully selected fixtures, which include an industrial enamel sink, chrome medical taps and a bathroom cabinet that Tasha reappropriated from the family beach house, WackoWacko. “It still smells like TCP and drips with nostalgia!” she says. Although there’s a perpetual din of street life in the background (Tasha’s apartment is a stone’s throw from several restaurants and a taxi stop, no less), the apartment is a serene space bathed in natural light thanks to steel-framed glass doors at both the west and east entrances. “There is something very inviting about this space,” says Tasha. “I step in here and feel calm. My ambition in life is to have studios like this all over the world and travel between them.” Now that sounds like something worthy of sparking joy, hey, Miss Kondo? Annette Klinger

NELLE ’ S RU I NS Nelle Dreyer Nelle was probably South Africa’s first supermodel. Way back in the nineteenseventies Nelle left Cape Town and went to Europe where she made it big time, as the saying goes. After her modeling career ended in the early nineteen-eighties she married the brilliant graphic designer Bob Adamski and together they bought an 11th century ruin, the Chateau de Cazes, located about 100Km from Bordeaux. Leaving the character of the building intact (so to speak), Bob created modern living spaces within the ruins, which Nelle decorated in her bold and eclectic style. House & Leisure magazine

THREE M I NSER I E STREET , STELLENBOSCH Publisher Hannes van Zyl’s love for books and old movies allowed architect Quinton Lawson to transform his rather dull 1929 Stellenbosch gabled house into a sumptous library, with bookshelves for walls, a home cinema, a titanium-tiled tower with the Moederkerk in its sights, a single bedroom, a tiny kitchen and a carport used as a picture gallery. The house, which through its open design is divided into spaces rather than rooms, has a sense of optimism and of daring about it. The titanium tower is constructed on the same axis as the old church, acknowledging it in a subtle way, and also confronting it. Visi magazine

It makes sense that chef Kobus van der Merwe has chosen to l ive in the foothi l ls of Kasteelberg (Castle Mountain), about 4 ki lometers outside Paternoster on the West Coast, where Khoi-khoin and San hunter gatherers subsisted from as early as 600 AD on a diet of smal l game, shel lfish and wi ld greens. Very much l ike Kobus does today. He’s renovated and extended a tiny two roomed ‘werkershuisie’ (workman’s cottage) to suit his spartan needs. The house is located on a farm amidst acres of undisturbed Strandveld vegetation which gives Kobus access to an assortment of edible plants and herbs with such evocative names as slangbessie, koekemakranka, stinkkruid, soutslaai and samphire – the latter a spindly, juicy marshland succulent – an ancient food mentioned by Shakespeare in King Lear and which Kobus regularly serves at Oep ve Koep, his restaurant in Paternoster. Recently he started experimenting with the production of vermouth – a sort of a botanical alchemy, where infusions in alcahol of roots and herbs such as wi ld fennel , african sage and pelargonium in alcahol are added drop by drop to fortified wine to create the aperitif. Living in smal l spaces demands a discipl ine that forces one to choose only the essential for dai ly l ife by discarding the extraneous. It’s an appeal ing approach which is reflected in Kobus’ sober and modest decoration of his home and also in his cooking, his writing and his l ife in general . It’s an approach encouraged by trend forecaster, Li Edelkoord, whose Paris apartment uncanni ly resembles his farm house. I think a quote from Leonardo da Vinci sums up the spirit of Kobus’ West Coast cottage quite wel l : Smal l rooms or dwel l ings discipl ine the mind, large ones weaken it. Jac de Vi l l i er s A L I TTLE HOUSE WI TH A B I G WI NDOW On 18 February 2019 The Wor ld Restarant Awards judged Kobus van der Merwe’s restaurant Wol fgat to be the best

Visi magazine

Film director Jane Campion photographed in her apartment in Sidney C E L E B R I T I E S & T H E I R S P A C E S

Author Tom Robbins photographed in his Kitchen in La Conner, Washington

Author Chinua Achebe photographed on his porch in Annandale, New York

Author Isabella Allende photographed in her dining room in San Francisco

Designer Philippe Starck in his studio in Paris

Architect Sir Richard Rogers photographed in his London house

Architect Piers Gough photographed at his favourite Cape Town building, Disa Towers

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