Belle Epoque

Gim­mic-free glam with a heady shot of in­sou­ciance, A Street­bar Named De­sire is one hel­luva ride, dis­cov­ers Piet Sm­edy

Condé Nast House & Garden - - DEBUT -

The Big Idea by christa ansell, co-owner

a lot of places in Jo’burg are pur­pose-built white boxes but this space just hummed with char­ac­ter. It wasn’t per­fect, but per­fect is bor­ing. It was the triple vol­ume ceil­ings, the light, the cosi­ness of it all. We had to break through walls, drill into roof slabs, build stair­cases and tear out mez­za­nine lev­els, but the bones of the space were mag­i­cally salu­bri­ous. They spoke to a faded op­u­lence that we wanted to cre­ate. We wanted lush rich­ness and an air of ne­glected de­bauch­ery – and a street­bar named de­sire just popped into my head. a play­ful name riff­ing off an amaz­ing nar­ra­tive, un­for­get­table char­ac­ters, and evok­ing a by­gone era. We weren’t in­ter­ested in cre­at­ing the coolest, sex­i­est new bar in town. We sim­ply wanted a place that em­bod­ied the de­sire to be alive. The fact that it was a bar, on a street, didn’t hurt ei­ther.

The look by tris­tan du plessis and dino Mavroko­rdatos, stu­dio a, and christa ansell

We had wanted the whole place to be a study in im­mer­sive monochro­matic colour block­ing in hues of green so that, as you walked in, you were im­me­di­ately picked up out of your ev­ery­day life and trans­ported some­where and to some time en­tirely new. us­ing a deep pal­ette of tex­tures was the key to cre­at­ing this unique, par­tic­u­larly tac­tile, ex­pe­ri­ence. There had to be a con­tra­dic­tion be­tween lux­u­ri­ous and edgy – an in­her­ent play­ful­ness – that was achieved through cus­tom brass light fit­tings, cut crys­tal light fix­tures and ex­posed flu­o­res­cent tube light­ing (for that bit of edge), which all cre­ated this glow­ing am­biance. Booth seat­ing in plush vel­vet fur­ther added to the in­ti­macy be­tween guests. an­other key fea­ture is the beau­ti­ful hand­made green tiles on the pil­lars, each one a dif­fer­ent shade and slightly im­per­fect shape and the aged mir­rors, which add a hazy layer, like a faded mem­ory.

The fi­nal touch, in con­tra­dic­tion to all this lush­ness, was fram­ing the ir­rev­er­ent scrib­bles of char­ac­ters from the play and al­fred hitch­cock­in­spired sin­is­ter, su­per high-gloss pho­tos that we shot specif­i­cally for this project (cour­tesy of the in­cred­i­bly tal­ented Jana + Koos).

clock­wise A cop­per plate Above The In­te­rior white mar­ble BAR reads ‘I’ve Al­ways de­pended on The kind­ness of strangers’; own­ers Thomas hughes, christa Ansell, grant Ansell, mar­tin jakoby; vel­vet Ban­quette seats And An­tique mir­rors

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