Unlike other tourism-heavy areas across the globe, it’s unusual for South Africans to meet, drink, or dine in local hotels, says Tristan du Plessis, founder of his namesake Johannesburg-based design studio and the mind behind the Gorgeous George hotel in Cape Town, South Africa. With indoor-outdoor restaurant Gigi, “we aimed to create our rooftop as the living room of the neighborhood,” he says. Crowning two buildings—one Art Deco, the other New Edwardian—it boasts a sumptuous green palette that juxtaposes inviting wood details. “Hopefully, [it’s] the start of a new local hotel culture,” he says.
The public areas continue the fusion of old and new, accentuating a raw and refined aesthetic that mirrors Cape Town’s bustling downtown. Both buildings were peeled back entirely, exposing concrete beams and columns “that had stories to tell,” du Plessis says. “We used this raw texture as a constant throughout the design.” Its accents, however, build to Gigi’s more naturalistic narrative, with luscious fabrics, floral carpets, and art with bold splashes of color that offset the calming neutrals of the structures’ original construction. “Stitching two different buildings together from two different eras was painstaking,” he points out. “A lot of design-in-the-moment had to be done as things were discovered and uncovered throughout the process.”
In the 32 guestrooms, for example, the industrial vibe blends with Victorian design elements, while nearly all the furniture and accessories were sourced from local businesses. Additionally, South African artist David Brits was commissioned to create handpainted wall art for each room. “I like to think the hotel embodies South African design not as a theme,” du Plessis says, “but as an organic expression of our contemporary design culture.”
Related: 2021 Development Update: Africa
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