The Home of KLûK CGDT Designers Malcolm Kluk and Christiaan Gabriel Du Toit Has a Unique Aesthetic
With a bold look that combines contemporary and Brutalist styles, the Atlantic Seaboard home of the KLûK CGDT founders demonstrates their design prowess.
'When it comes to the architecture of our buildings, we are our worst bridezilla client,’ says fashion designer Malcolm Kluk who, together with his business and life partner Christiaan Gabriel Du Toit, has been creating prêt-à-porter, bridalwear and couture for almost two decades under their label KLûK CGDT. In recent years, their passion for interiors, design and architecture has seen the pair add property to their design portfolio.
‘It all started when we decided to design and build our own headquarters in Cape Town’s Bree Street,’ says Christiaan in reference to the three-storey building that encompasses the KLûK CGDT showroom, design studio and a penthouse apartment. So enjoyable was the project that they decided to redevelop their former home in Fresnaye into nine residential units, and have bought other properties such as this one on the Atlantic Seaboard to redevelop, too.
‘It’s become an extension of our design process,’ says Malcolm. ‘We wanted to create properties with the same exclusivity, uniqueness and sophistication as we do with our KLûK CGDT fashion.’ But it’s their attention to detail – at a level unusual for property, they say – that has transformed them into their own worst clients. ‘Such is our passion that we scrutinise every detail and are constantly revising and refining,’ says Malcolm. ‘We don’t subscribe to the “oysters in season” school of thought, and so no architect in their right mind should take us on.’
And yet, architects Christiaan van Aswegen and Annemie van den Heever of Hours Clear Architects – with whom the couple worked on both their headquarters and now this Atlantic Seaboard twin dwelling – survived the challenge with aplomb. ‘They have a knack for evocative references,’ says Christiaan. ‘Their initial brief was for a supervillain’s lair, with repeated mentions of both James Bond and Edna Mode of The Incredibles.’
Anyone familiar with Mode will recall her cutting wit and edgy, perfectionist style, both of which can be attributed to Malcolm and Christiaan respectively. And, much like Mode, both Malcolm and Christiaan knew exactly what they wanted. In fact, before they’d even bought the property, Malcolm had doodled a drawing of two semi-circles on top of one another as a solution to the narrow, trapezoid-shaped site.
Creating the KLûK CGDT architectural aesthetic
‘We wanted a design-led creation that would set itself apart from the grey boxes that proliferate the Atlantic Seaboard,’ says Malcolm. ‘We wanted something quite contemporary and Brutalist,’ adds Christiaan, ‘but we wanted to soften it with the use of painted brick and the idea of the coffered ceiling as a way of using less concrete while adding a sense of height.’
‘It’s not often you get the go-ahead to create something iconic,’ says Van den Heever. ‘Malcolm and Christiaan’s references certainly supported this with the inclusion of Oscar Niemeyer’s city of Brasilia among others, which led us to the low-slung concrete structure and modernist feel we proposed.’ But what really unlocked the design was establishing a structural grid that ran parallel and at right angles to the longest neighbour property line, thus allowing preferred northern exposure with a logical flow from public to private spaces, complete with secluded courtyard gardens that dissolve the indoor-outdoor divide.
The architects’ utilisation of space on the 642m² plot is inspired, particularly as the building now comprises two 400m² apartments (excluding basement parking and laundry areas). Both have three en suite bedrooms and are laid out with open-plan lounge, dining and kitchen areas (with separate sculleries) that lead onto courtyard gardens, terraces and pools.
‘We call the upper house the penthouse because the main en suite is on a second level all of its own with uninterrupted views, while the lower house feels more contained and private,’ says Malcolm. To soften its concrete and structural geometry, Malcolm and Christiaan specified that greenery should be incorporated into every aspect of the design – ‘much to the horror of the engineers, who needed to add support for planters, roof gardens and natural pools,’ he says.
Eco-credentials were another must-have, in the form of greywater recycling tanks for the pools, automated LED lighting and efficient heat pumps in combination with pressurised hot-water supply. The orientation of the house is designed to minimise heat loss in winter and provide shade in summer.
Malcolm and Christiaan have pushed the interiors, too. Their discerning eye for colour, pattern and unusual design finds has also been the origin of the KLûK CGDT aesthetic, and it is very much in evidence here. ‘We don’t decorate according to a scheme. Each piece of furniture or art is here because it’s unique and different, and we love it,’ says Malcolm. The results speak for themselves in iconic spaces that Edna Mode would surely declare to be: ‘Simple, elegant, yet bold. You will die.’