When creative interior director Tracy Lee Lynch of St.udio Leelynch first set foot on Twee Jonge Gezellen estate in Tulbagh in the Western Cape, she knew intuitively what the space needed in order to revive it.
Having been bought by the late Tim Rands at the end of 2012, the historic farm – home of Krone MCC – needed restoration and an injection of newness, but it was important to Tim and his daughter Abigail Rands that its history and architecture be respected. ‘We wanted to do something where time itself is the big artist, and the trace of time can be felt throughout the spaces,’ says Abigail.
Twee Jonge Gezellen is a landmark in the area, having been established in 1710. Working with the traditional Cape Dutch architecture, Tracy felt that she needed to take a disciplined approach to the interior renovation. ‘We ensured that everything was brought in and that nothing was built, so if you were to remove the pieces from the building, only the history would remain.’
The reception area has been magically transformed from the cold storage room it once was, and the entrance opened up to allow energy to flow through the interiors. Delicate Mema Designs pendant lights – resembling the shapes of upturned champagne coupes – draw attention in an unobtrusive way; fantastical Gregor Jenkin tables from his Migrant Migrate series for Southern Guild – designed with skewed legs that make them appear as if they are running towards you – are placed in various nooks; and a minimal selection of artworks from Smith gallery adorn the walls, many of which mimic the building’s structural design with their inclusion of arches.
‘The arches are strong architectural features that are repeated in many of the spaces,’ says Abigail. ‘An arch represents an opening, an invitation to come inside, and I love how the light falls through them in different ways during the day. Circles also feature strongly throughout the farm; they symbolise a cycle for me and are representative of the bubbly that we produce.’
An outdoor passage with open-walled arcs that frame the verdant valley leads to the MCC packing area, and from there, outside to water features that bubble rhythmically.
The tasting area, which is the hero of the renovated space, can be accessed via a short alfresco staircase. Inside the tasting room, the dramatic masterpiece that is the brass bar, also designed by Jenkin, has to be seen in reality to be truly appreciated. ‘The bar was always brass, and we wanted it to remain brass,’ says Tracy. ‘I contacted Charles Haupt of Bronze Age to discuss what we had in mind and his instinctive response was “there’s only one person who can do this” – it was Jenkin, of course.’
Inventiveness is rife in the space, which is furnished with Monastic chairs by Jenkin, tables with cork tops by Laurie Wiid van Heerden of Wiid Design (creatively affixed with magnets), Vermeer lighting, ice buckets by St.udio Leelynch and an ornate ‘disruptor’ piece from Ceramic Matters.The terrace offers magnificent views of the surrounds, and is skilfully furnished with bespoke Meyer von Wielligh umbrellas, tables, chairs and day beds, perfect for warm days.
When asked what it was like working with such a diverse group of creatives, Abigail says, ‘Gregor Jenkin, Laurie Wiid and Gerhard Swart and Anthony Harris from Ceramic Matters put so much heart into the project. Tracy saw the modern spirit in ancient things, the connection between the old and new.’
There is one space, however, that remains untouched, and that’s the original cellar, which, if you’re lucky enough to view it, will transport you back in time. The stairs are lined with dusty old wine bottles that act as candleholders; a vintage iron-and-wood pulley has pride of place to the right of the stairs; and the original light fittings remain intact. It’s utterly enchanting and otherworldly.
The farm has always been inventive: it was the first vineyard in the world to harvest grapes at night and introduce cold fermentation. ‘It was important to us that the renovation – which took two years to complete – was original and innovative, true to the farm’s history,’ says Abigail. ‘My dad wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.’
Read our Q&A with Tracy Lee Lynch to find out what went into the renovation.