WORDS Celeste Jacobs PRODUCTION Annemarie Meintjes PHOTOS Dook
A monochromatic exterior conceals a celebration of colour, creativity and remembrance in this playful and joyful apartment.
If you’re looking for an architecture and design equivalent of “never judge a book by its cover”, this apartment in the Onyx must be it. Its white-accented black-mirror façade and similarly themed foyer and corridors provide little hint of the explosion of neon that awaits when you step into Gavin Hendricks’s apartment in this Cape Town Foreshore building.
It didn’t start out this way, though. The apartment was purchased renovated and, according to interior designer Etienne Hanekom, “The palette was quite stark and lacking in personality, but it wasn’t really a blank canvas. There were many black walls and finishes that we couldn’t ignore. Strong lines dominated the space, as did the use of white, light grey and black.”
That would’ve been fine for a corporate apartment, but Gavin wanted something more energetic. Layering colours and textures started to soften the hard edges, with some of the straight lines exaggerated and others softened. “There’s a bit of give and take around every corner,” says Etienne.
READ MORE: Etienne Hanekom’s Signal Hill Home
Monochromatic interiors have their place, Etienne says – but first, you need to understand that colour evokes emotion, and then you need to decide what emotion you’d like the room to evoke. “I have never been through a black-and-white stage in my life,” he says. “Colour is always with me, whether it’s muted or bright, crisp or dirty.” And this space is certainly an example of adding sparks of emotion to your surroundings through the use of colour, texture and pattern. “Colour does not bite – it is the essence of life; it forms part of life’s natural beauty,” he adds. “Colour allows us to distinguish between the different objects we find in the world, and influences how we perceive the world around us.”
Gavin’s apartment is the product of several bold ideas thrown into a bowl. Between him and Etienne, the options were mixed around and picked out one by one, resulting in a space that’s proudly unapologetic. And while it may appear brazen and carefree, it has depth too, with each room meticulously curated. “The colour and the sense of life is what I love about it,” says Gavin. “And that’s quite a dichotomy.
Because of what’s happened to me, I’ve got a firm philosophical belief that the best things in life aren’t things – and yet that’s not the impression you would get when you come in here. I think that’s why I’ve put Lenin in the lounge – he was such an ‘anti-things’ person, and quite homophobic too, so I decided to put him there to observe how happy the people he despises can actually be.”
There’s a poignant element to the apartment as well – it’s a reminder of love. The space is a celebration of the life Gavin shared with his husband Andy, who passed away on Valentine’s Day in 2020. The apartment’s number is also the date of their wedding anniversary.