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As Africa opens its borders, pay homage to African design and celebrate heritage with andBeyond

September 24, 2020 Tour Operator No Comments Email Email

Tomorrow, 24 September is Heritage Day in South Africa. On this day, South Africans celebrate their culture and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions, in the wider context of a nation that belongs to all its people. In line with the occasion, we’d like to put forth a design story for your consideration, in which we celebrate African design and heritage by exploring the ways they have been used in luxury lodges such as andBeyond’s, and what makes an andBeyond lodge one that is steeped in so much tradition, heritage and culture.

ANDBEYOND’S DESIGN PHILOSOPHY

andBeyond’s design philosophy is simple, sustainable, and responsible. While consistently maintaining a high level of luxury and comfort, it also respects, supports, and celebrates each lodge’s unique surrounding land, wildlife and people. Lodge design has rapidly evolved to meet the increasing demands of the eco-conscious and socially aware traveller, hence andBeyond strives to build sustainably, while still retaining the creative edge and signature charm that differentiates our guests’ experience.

 COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

The best way to be global is to be local. A simple philosophy, yet this one ever-present golden thread guides the entire andBeyond experience from start to finish, including andBeyond’s design philosophy, which ensures that local communities are supported and celebrated. For over two decades, andBeyond has worked with award-winning interior design masterminds Chris Browne and Debra Fox of Fox Browne Creative to bestow their magic touch on andBeyond’s iconic lodges. Their meticulous sourcing of the bespoke cultural artefacts has given each andBeyond lodge its own unique character.

A three-tiered approach is undertaken. Firstly, and most importantly, Chris and Debra engage with local artisans from neighbouring communities at the grass roots level. Chris and Debra scour community-run craft markets situated near each lodge and regularly stop the car en-route to scout out all the rustic roadside stalls for unique craftsmanship.

The second tier involves supporting the local design industry by sourcing custom one-of-a-kind pieces from the more urban-based projects in nearby city centres, such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Nairobi.

The final tier focuses on high-end local design and includes the world-class collections of carefully selected star designers, such as Anna Trzebinski, Penny Winter and Antassia.

Chris explains, “Our focus is always as regional and locally authentic as possible. As a buyer, this process can be slow and challenging, given that the majority of these rural artists often don’t have any business experience. You have to make a concerted effort to guide the purchase process and to reinforce your commitment to the artist by nurturing and mentoring them on how to conduct business.” 

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS

andBeyond Phinda Homestead, a sole-use luxury villa situated on andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve is one prime example of where sleek, modern design has been combined with rich Zulu heritage. Raw, earthy materials are combined with quirky accents, as well as the area’s local flavours, to create an elegant and contemporary bush home away from home. Traditional Nguini hides, intricate basketwork and colourful crafts, all sourced directly from the local communities, are featured throughout the home, paying particular homage to the area’s proud and vibrant Zulu culture.

As they say in South Africa, “local is lekker”, which means that the things closest to home are the best. Ninety percent of the design elements used to create Phinda Homestead are proudly and uniquely South African. One-of-a-kind Zulu reed-tassel curtains were sourced from a local roadside stall and now take pride of place in the luxury ensuite bathrooms. This is perhaps the largest purchase order that the women-run roadside craft stall has ever received, and the direct benefit – not only to these artists but also to their dependents – is substantial. Intricate hand-woven Zulu baskets produced by Khanyisele Crafts in the Nongoma community are also featured throughout.

Debra and Chris are firm believers that finding materials that are honest, have integrity and are of good quality are key. Using something that is regionally appropriate, made locally, in a way that isn’t normally used, is one of the ways in which they pay homage to traditional African design and offer fresh perspectives to guests. For instance, a Zulu-weave mat was creatively used as a headboard in Phinda Homestead.

SENSE OF PLACE

The recent redesign of andBeyond Phinda Vlei Lodge showcases a strong, bold and vibrant story, which is very different to that of each of its sister lodges, but still retains a profound sense of place and relevance. Inspired by the lavish homesteads of the pineapple and sugarcane plantation barons that once dominated the surrounding landscape, the subtle hero of Vlei Lodge’s new look is the cheerful banana tree wallpaper. The old and the new have been layered harmoniously, giving the lodge a bold new look that is homely and nostalgic. We’re talking quirky pineapples, vintage brass, antique furnishings, tropical accents, deep chartreuse velvet sofas and pale pink North Coast anthuriams.

RESPONSIBLE DESIGN

Gone are the days of gold-plated taps, satin sheets, and white-glove service. The discerning traveller today craves sustainable luxury and true authenticity over opulence. Critical to andBeyond’s design philosophy is the subtle and always mindful art of upcycling, recycling, and repurposing. Original artefacts and pieces of furniture – which add authenticity, local relevance and a deep sense of place and personality – are always retained and enhanced, and beautiful old antiques and furniture are lovingly restored and stylishly repurposed. Modern luxury, comfort and cutting-edge design are seamlessly combined with soulful, old world vintage. Sustainability is an entrenched part of the design process. At the heart of it all, sustainability combined with a deep sense of place are the guiding threads of andBeyond’s design philosophy.

A PIECE OF HERITAGE

In the spirit of celebrating African design, we welcome you to bring a piece of heritage home by exploring various African art and design pieces here: https://www.andbeyond.com/bringing-africa-home/safari-shop/. A percentage of proceeds from the sales will go towards andBeyond’s various conservation initiatives.

Should you have any questions, require more information, or would like to speak with Debra and Chris, Co-Founders of Fox Browne Creative, please feel free to reach out and we’d be happy to coordinate. They can share more about their design philosophies, the significance of African design, and how they manage the fine balance between sustainability and luxury in their lodge design process.

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