Geometric pattern reigns in this colourful South African lodge

The bold, clashing hues in this Kruger National Park lodge by Cécile & Boyd are a joyous example of a new happier mood in interiors

contemporary living room
Photography Elsa Young

Vibrant colours, geometric patterns and stripes – a new, jubilant version of maximalism has arrived to brighten up all of our lives. The idea is to pair shades that conventional wisdom says won’t work – terracotta with orange, blue with green, pink with pillar-box red. Mix them all together, and then give them space to breathe against backdrops of pale wood. The colourful palette in this home takes its lead from the spirited shades of nature in the wilds of South Africa.

colourful dining room africa home
Photography Elsa Young/Frank Features

‘We were inspired by the electric colours you see on the birds, butterflies and insects, as well as the geometric patterns and forms you find on small African creatures, like the chameleon,’ says Boyd Ferguson of Cécile & Boyd, the innovative Cape Town-based design studio that created the interior of Singita Sweni Lodge in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Geordi de Sousa Costa – also from Cécile & Boyd – agrees: ‘The more we researched the area, the more we found everything from deep tans to tawny pinks, cochineal yellows to teal, and terracotta to iridescent oranges.’ The mood created is brilliantly vibrant – visual serotonin for the soul.

‘We wanted to make the lodge feel fresh, young, fun, bold and joyous’

Nestled in the banks of the Sweni River, shaded by a grove of ancient, cactus-like euphorbia trees, sit the seven svelte boxes of wood, glass and steel that make up Singita Sweni Lodge. The destination is a miniature village of sleek, low-slung holiday houses, all conceived by Sally Tsiliyiannis of Cape Town-based Gapp Architects and Urban Designers to have minimal impact on the environment.

interiors african home
Photographer Elsa Young/Frank Features

‘We knew we had to work hard to maximise the spaces,’ says Sally, who designed the houses to look as though they were ‘hunkered down’ in the landscape. But in order for them not to feel small on the inside, she opened up the main reception area entirely, adding a bar and deli area, as well as a winter lounge with, outside, a firepit and decking that extends the building out onto and over the river. It’s not just the colours of this interior that were inspired by their setting – all of the materials also mirror their surroundings, from smooth woods to tasselled cushions that mirror the shape of lush leaves.

Interior designers Boyd and Geordi felt that, by virtue of Sweni Lodge’s intimate size, it could take on a more dramatic and decorative interior with ease. ‘We wanted to make the lodge feel fresh, young, fun, bold and joyous,’ Boyd says. The end product is a delight. ‘We studied the classic designs of the 1960s and 70s to inspire the South African artisans and craftspeople that we commissioned,’ says Geordi. ‘There is a definite mid-century modern feel throughout Sweni Lodge, which we married with extreme texture, colour and pattern on everything from bespoke tapestries to rugs, throws and cushions.

colourful bedroom african home
Photography Elsa Young/Frank Features

We also chose to introduce a lot of the local greenery to exaggerate the feeling of being outdoors.’ This may be an extremely rich and detailed aesthetic, but there is still a simplicity of intent that balances the space with its location. ‘We didn’t mix many materials together,’ explains Boyd. ‘The interior is meant to delight without ever overshadowing the main event: nature.’

For the full house tour see ELLE Decoration February 2018

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