Perhaps it’s the rocker in him, but Adrian Lombard is searching for soul. And he finds it, simply, by being true to himself. A world traveller, Carl Jung devotee and engineer-turned-designer, Adrian’s signature style could be described as ‘earthy meets ebullient’ – he once fronted a rock band, after all. The founder of Johannesburg’s Essential Life, an emporium of furniture, homeware and holistic lifestyle necessities, and its associated Essential Concepts Creative Studio, he designed his own home in Houghton, as an open, inviting space with free-flowing yet defined areas that simultaneously conjure up conviviality and contemplation, glamour and gustatory pleasures. It is at once party central and a retreat.
‘I’m a huge fan of warehouse living – industrial spaces converted into homes – and I am also very much influenced by Mexican style, in which the courtyard is an important feature,’ he explains. So is colour. One wall along the entrance foyer of his home is awash in saturated turquoise hues, repeated in the table and chairs. There is a splash of deep crimson in the living room, while the bedroom is painted a more relaxing shade of celadon green.
Balancing out the waves of colour are areas of almost Zen-like simplicity, such as the all-white kitchen with its massively long island, topped with a single piece of solid Oregon pine. ‘It’s one big chopping block, sealed with olive oil. It’s a show kitchen but it’s made for real cooking. And when I cook, I cook for the world,’ he says with a laugh. ‘There’s no such thing as cooking for one in my house. I cook for friends and always end up with lots and lots of food.’ This week’s special, he proclaims, is ‘this rhubarb pie, with rhubarb from my garden.’
‘I’d love to have been a minimalist,’ he sighs, and indeed there is an element of it in the sleek lines of the furniture pieces he and business partner Clinton Holloway designed and manufactured for his home, as well as the ones on view at his Parkhurst outlet. There is a drinks cabinet made of grained wood, perched on W-shaped legs, spare and severe in line. Yet open the cabinet and the inside is lined with mirrors, lending the piece a kind of Art Deco glamour.
The glamour continues in the very Hollywood, high-gloss black-and-white dining room, while the living room is cosy, with quaint touches such as framed retro cinema posters on the walls, books arranged according to colour, and inspiring buzz words etched on the mirrored walls of the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, not to mention the collections of tea sets, blue glass and green ceramics. It’s not a room for minimalists, however. ‘Life is for living,’ says Adrian. ‘I like my things around me; they speak about a life lived, places discovered, connections made, and friendships cherished.’
There’s the piano in the corner, which he plays, by the way. ‘And I have shakers and rattles, and all sorts of instruments. So when I have a dinner party, sometimes all my friends and I get behind the piano and the drum and we have an impromptu musical evening.’
By contrast, the bedroom and its adjoining bathroom are all about serenity and balance, in soothing tones and textures, with a skylight in the bathroom letting in the natural sunshine and a black glass chandelier adding a touch of drama to an otherwise muted space.
‘What I’ve always been passionate about is to take design and make it an intelligent experience, where it becomes meaningful with great concepts. Because I find that with a lot of design, it’s very beautiful but it becomes a very superficial world with people just looking at the prettiness of it,’ Adrian explains. ‘But if you can actually get the whole concept right – and look deeper into the meaning behind, say, a cabinet, or a tea ceremony or a cleansing ritual – it enhances your entire life process.’
ADRIAN’S HOME TRUTHS
This spring I’m planning and planting my summer herb and veg garden. What I love most about the season is the beehives abuzz inside my steel Mark Swart sculptures; the bees moved in five years ago. And the purple jacaranda-lined avenues you drive through in Houghton, especially on a crisp morning with the roof down, or while jogging with my Labrador, Merlin. The first thing I do when I get home is play with the dogs before putting on music and brewing a delicious cup of Kashmir spicy tea to invigorate – and relax. My favourite room is my bathroom, more like a wellness spa room, where I unwind with natural treatments and plant extracts from all around the world, making this room an alchemical lab of regeneration. As a product developer, I collect modern designs from all eras, which I group together to form inspirational areas. I like clear, timeless lines. I also like the bright colours of Spanish films. On my bedside table are my Kindle, iPad, books, and clear boxes filled with pens and notebooks. Inspiration can hit at all hours. I’m inspired by the idea of living life to the fullest, truly making a difference on the planet, thinking originally and being your authentic self. Humans have the potential to do amazing things, no matter how tough the circumstances. I love nature, and simple rituals like cooking and creating a feast. Even the cleansing ritual can be made into a magical experience. So design just follows on from this ethos. I like entertaining with simple abundance. I love to cook a variety of cuisines, but my chicken satay with Thai curry peanut sauce is a winner every time. Then, also, my very humble cheese straws, made with home-made flaky pastry.
This article was originally featured in the September 2012 issue of House and Leisure.