PHOTOS Micky Hoyle PRODUCTION Sumien Brink WORDS Amelia Brown
Interior designer David Strauss has challenged conventional thinking about scale and minimalism in converting his 29 m2 apartment at the foot of Table Mountain into a characterful cocoon.
Six years ago VISI featured Interior Designer David Strauss’s Blouberg beach house. A quote from it stands out: “My [wish] is for minimalism – not the sleek and cold version but rather something like the spare economy of a monastery: a simple bed with a wooden table and chair.” He has consummately brought this sentiment to life in his 29 m2 city pad.
David knew he wanted the apartment as soon as he walked in. Despite a “disaster” of a kitchen, a bathroom with a little blue bath and a walk-in cupboard-cum-dressing room that made the living space small and cramped, he saw potential in the arrangement. He’d been on the hunt for a low-maintenance lock-up-and-go apartment for work trips to the city from his primary residence in Oudtshoorn. Up until then he’d been discouraged by the generic open-plan studio apartment layout with a counter to demarcate the kitchen. “I didn’t want a fridge in my bedroom!” he quips.
He also loved the flat’s mountain-facing orientation. The 360-degree Disa Park towers are known for their exceptional panoramic views, and a large window affords welcome light and the impression of spaciousness. David knew he wanted to face the mountain rather than the sea. Although the bright city-harbour-sea view is undeniably breathtaking, it is quite dynamic, demanding attention. The mountain, on the other hand, is less assertive, more meditative. “After a mad day, I love the tranquillity,” David says. “It calms me down. At night there’s not a light in sight. It’s so peaceful.”
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Framed in the gently curved window that arcs the width of the apartment, the mountain is undoubtedly the focal point. David has subtly accentuated the connection by using grey as the anchor colour in the apartment, echoing Table Mountain’s slate hues: a soft dove grey on all the walls, and deeper tones for the custom-made sofa, which transforms into a bed, and the carpet. “The best advice I’ve ever been given is to look outside and let that be your inspiration, to bring it in,” he says. It’s an example of how David has managed the micro space in some masterful and surprising ways. He has, for example, removed visual distractions like the cornices and skirting so that the floor, walls and ceiling seamlessly merge. He chose durable outdoor carpeting from bathroom through to kitchen to avoid dividing up the space, and almost invisible roller blinds instead of curtains.
Reflections from strategically placed mirrors catch your eye and open up the space. “It’s more challenging to decorate a small place than a big one,” he says. “Everything needs to be so considered.”
David’s shoebox – as the “skoendoos” sign on the door announces – is somewhat incongruously appointed with large, characterful statement pieces of furniture and art. “For my clients I can do very modern apartments, but personally I want a little apartment that resembles me. Minimalism in this small space would have felt cold and lonely, especially in winter.” The result is warm and comfortable with a feeling of curated personal heritage.
“I’m much more of a sentimental man than a decorator,” says David. “To me, the living part is much more important than the decorating.”Despite the furniture’s scale, nothing competes. Everything has a purpose, even if it’s just to tell you something about the interesting owner.