It’s no secret that Cape Town’s city centre has undergone a masterful urban transformation in recent years, and as a result, many design talents have eschewed suburban bliss for the inner city, where they can access what’s hot and happening around the clock – and Liam Mooney is no exception.
A successful furniture designer and now respected interiors expert with an impressive black book of domestic and commercial clients, Liam is clearly delighted to welcome people into his restful, airy apartment in a renovated, mixed-use Art Deco building on historic Greenmarket Square, one of Cape Town’s busiest tourist hubs. ‘When I first saw this place, I was immediately taken with the original wooden windows, high ceilings, open-plan space and the fact that there are two terraces,’ he says.
Liam lived in the then two-bedroomed apartment for a little while before proposing a structural change to his landlord. ‘I didn’t need a second bedroom, but I felt that a dining area was essential because I love entertaining,’ he says. So out went a dry wall, which opened up the space to an abundance of natural light, and in went a dining table that’s big enough for dinners.
Luckily for Liam, his landlord trusted his vision for the initial home improvement and was fully supportive of further proposed tweaks. And from the hanging of naturally textured wallpaper throughout the main living area to the placement of many original artworks, there’s no doubt that Liam has added a unique and elegant edge to his home.
Because the apartment is an open canvas, Liam is able to move items around often. ‘The nature of the space makes it so versatile, which is ideal for me as I’m always shifting things and changing the interior. ‘Homes grow with the owner – they aren’t meant to stay the same.’
The apartment looks down onto the square and up towards Table Mountain, and the busy, colourful world outside is in stark contrast to Liam’s calm, tonal haven. ‘I like a neutral palette because it ages better,’ he says. ‘Colour is important to me, but I gravitate towards darker hues more than brights.’ To ensure balance, Liam has offset the modern black-and-white scheme with natural textures and hues, the occasional metallic finish and a striking assortment of contemporary artworks by some of South Africa’s best talents, including Richard de Jager and Hanien Conradie, many of whom are personal friends.
Here and there are sculptural smalls from all over the world, such as a pair of clay African heads and a selection of West-German ceramics, but most engaging of all is Liam’s array of chairs. Ranging from a pair of Charles Rennie Mackintosh originals to a 1946 piece by Danish icon Ole Wanscher, his collection is eclectic yet cohesive in a way that fits the apartment perfectly. He’s not precious about his finds, encouraging his guests to use, rather than simply look at them, and enthusiastically shares the history of each.
‘I collect pieces that I love, but not always for the same reason. Some I like because of the way they look and others because of their design relevance, such as the Robin Day Polyside chair, which is the first injection-moulded model ever made,’ he says. ‘I never buy replicas and not all chairs in my collection are by famous designers; some are no-name, but still beautiful.’
Ever the professional, Liam approached the design of his home as he does his clients’. ‘I made sure to create several areas so there’s an interesting view at every point while you move through the space,’ he says. Although he doesn’t take himself or his house too seriously, it’s clear that this is a place in which Liam has invested lots of energy – and thanks to its awe-inspiring design cred, it’s one that any style-forward urban dweller would love to call home.