Best friends since university, fine artist Banele Khoza and architect-turned- interior-designer Tshepo Sealetsa finish each other’s sentences when they talk. So it was no surprise when the two teamed up to compete alongside fellow creatives in SABC 3’s Win A Home competition, aired on Afternoon Express, and were chosen as two of six finalists who put their combined skills to the test to renovate one of three homes to be won by a lucky viewer. Under the mentorship of House and Leisure editor Tiaan Nagel, Banele and Tshepo – dubbed Team House and Leisure – decorated a colour-infused dream home with local design at its heart in Eikenhof, Johannesburg.
Reflecting on a project well done (and a gallery of never-before-scene photographs), writer Layla Leiman sat down with the pair to discuss the project, the home’s design vocabulary and how the duo worked together as a team.
LAYLA What I love about this house is that it feels so considered without being ‘decorated’. When you were working on this project, were you designing with yourselves in mind? TSHEPO I like to think so. At the start we wanted to design a space that we would both appreciate and want to live in. BANELE I think it has a lot of us in it, and the overall theme was us. How do you complement or challenge each other? TSHEPO Banele has a really good eye for colour, and thanks to my architectural background, I’m a technical person and am all about attention to detail. BANELE From an architectural perspective, I think without Tshepo, I wouldn’t have planned anything properly. I would have just been like, ‘Well, if it works, it works’. The shades you’ve chosen, such as Millennial pink and forest green, are very on trend. In terms of this project and design in general, do you intentionally look to broader culture or are these decisions quite intuitive and part of your visual vocabulary? TSHEPO We didn’t reference anything specifically, and instead wanted the space to showcase our personalities and what we stand for. BANELE We also were really interested in collaborations and working with local artists and designers. So we did all our decor sourcing for the lounge from local designers, which made it more African. So sourcing local was a specific choice? BANELE Yes, it was. How did you choose which designers to collaborate with? TSHEPO That was Banele’s job! BANELE (Laughs) With the designers, it was about thinking which aesthetic would suit the house. Also, we had to be ambitious, and getting big names such as Dokter and Misses, 28, Joe Paine, Houtlander and Heidie Fourie on board was quite a feat. They could have easily said no, but I think they recognised that we’re developing a specific design language, and all said yes. Did you have an overarching concept for the house, or did you work room by room? TSHEPO We took it one room at a time, and I don’t think it would have turned out the way it did if we had planned everything at once. We wanted to see how our styles were going to work together and go from there. What was your vision for the home, and what did you want it to feel like when you step inside? BANELE Capital letters: LUXURY (laughs). TSHEPO We were worried that we wouldn’t be able to achieve this because of budget… BANELE… but we realised that often the less budget we had, the more creative we became. Tell us about some of the decor choices you made. BANELE We wanted every space to feel comfortable and inviting. Natural lighting was especially important and informed our colour choices. TSHEPO The first thing we thought about was warmth. So it’s a house for living in? BANELE Yes! How does it feel having designed a home that so closely reflects your personalities, and after all this, someone else will move in? BANELE As an artist, I’m used to letting go of my work, so this felt like that. TSHEPO At the start I struggled, but after a while, I realised that this is what I’m going to be doing going forward, so I can’t get emotionally attached. It is someone else’s home, and my job is to make it really beautiful and livable for them, and hand it over.