PHOTOS Mark Williams PRODUCTION Tracy Lynch WORDS Alma Viviers
This Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired family home in Cape Town brims with a contemporary art collection that tells the story of the owners’ passion for beautiful things.
It holds a place of honour. At the centre of the house – where the staircase, living area and study meet – hangs the Fred Page painting that started it all for this art lover and collector, who grew up with it looming large in his parents’ dining room in Port Elizabeth.
Today this homeowner’s private collection of more than 250 pieces from across the globe focuses on contemporary art. There are works in every corner, from the bathroom to the children’s rooms and the kitchen.
It was also through art that he and his wife connected with decorator Tracy Lynch and her husband, artist Frank van Reenen. “He collects Frank’s work and commissioned him for a special piece when the couple’s twins were born,” Tracy recalls. “They got to talking about what I do and he gave me a call.”
When Tracy first met with the couple, the house was still a concrete shell. “We immediately connected on how the house had to be a canvas to display the art,” she recalls.
As a point of departure, Tracy looked at the art collection and soon realised this was really what the house was about. She therefore decided to keep the furniture quite low-key and to introduce colour themes to tie everything together.
“When I first presented my mood boards with the colourways and furniture layouts, they thought I’d gone completely mad,” Tracy laughs. “I said we should walk through the house so that I could explain how it would feel.”
The owner admits that this was an area where Tracy added enormous value: “We never considered colour because we wanted the art to be the focus. I always thought the art would pull the house together, but it isn’t the same as a gallery where all the works are displayed on white walls to form one story. The pieces I have collected do not have a single theme and are diverse in medium and subject matter.”
The owner’s discerning eye isn’t limited to art alone. He regularly buys furniture from second-hand shops, flea markets and online bargains. With interests in different industries, from clothing to design and property, he enjoys discovering unique products.
“I recently found a beautiful tea set designed by Paola Navone for Reichenbach, an old German porcelain manufacturer,” he says. “Instead of bringing home one set, I obtained the licence to import the range.”
Other brands that find their way to our shores courtesy of his import business, Lusso, include tapestry work from French duo Frédérique Morrel and eclectic furniture from Spanish designers Lola Glamour.
He is also enthusiastic about local creatives: “I think South Africa has an amazing talent pool of artists and designers that measure up internationally. We should be encouraged by this.”
He was very involved in the design of the house and worked closely with Gavin Mitton of Design 360 Architects. “I’m not the easiest client because I have my own ideas,” he says. “I wanted the house to flow the way we live. The result bears testament to Gavin’s talent.”
Asked if he ever considered a career as a designer, the owner chuckles and muses that he could never start something from scratch but enjoys “working with the real creatives”.