House and Leisure (South Africa) - - House -

Van der Merwe and the fam­ily re­alised early on that the rooms would stand fairly pared-back fur­nish­ing be­cause of the ‘rich sur­face, ma­te­ri­al­ity and de­tails’ of the house it­self. The white in­te­ri­ors brought to mind early 20th-cen­tury Scan­di­na­vian schemes, and the light, func­tional fur­ni­ture that re­vealed the first rum­blings of modernism. They de­cided to take their cue from the sim­plic­ity and pu­rity of those early de­signs, but skipped for­ward a few decades and re­vis­ited the same prin­ci­ple in its more con­tem­po­rary man­i­fes­ta­tions.

Stick­ing with Scan­di­navia, and con­trast­ing the fur­nish­ings with the or­na­men­ta­tion in the ar­chi­tec­tural de­tail­ing, Van der Merwe and the fam­ily se­lected pieces with strong sculp­tural, con­tem­po­rary forms. The likes of Hans J Weg­ner’s Colo­nial Chair and Frits Hen­ningsen’s Her­itage Chair for Carl Hansen & Søn, with its se­duc­tively curved, body-hug­ging form, made for a har­mo­nious con­trast with the home’s his­tor­i­cal fea­tures. The fam­ily also com­mis­sioned a num­ber of cus­tom-made pieces from Tonic De­sign, such as the solid, asym­met­ri­cal ‘slightly freeform’ din­ing ta­ble. These were sup­ple­mented with other ex­am­ples of lo­cal, clean-lined de­sign, such as a cabi­net by Dok­ter and Misses.

‘Then you can add con­tem­po­rary art,’ says Van der Merwe, draw­ing at­ten­tion to works by artists such as An­drzej Urbanski and Peter East­man. Ad­di­tional colour was added to the fairly neu­tral base of greys, with soft blues and greens in the fur­nish­ings.

The clean min­i­mal­ism of the in­te­ri­ors ends up en­hanc­ing the build­ing’s fea­tures, con­trast­ing with them rather than com­pet­ing, and at once honour­ing the past while giv­ing it a new lease on life more than a cen­tury af­ter it was built. ton­icde­

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