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An innovative interior design project by Haldane Martin Iconic Design has opened on the Stellenbosch Wine Route – a new wine estate called Kunjani Wines. Combining traditional architecture with contemporary design and a distinctive African flavour, Kunjani Wines is a new contemporary design landmark for Stellenbosch that will draw visitors as much for its striking design as its tasting and dining experience with a view.

Haldane Martin crafted the interior concept for Kunjani Wines around a Euro-meets-Afro interior concept that draws on the bold, earthy and spicy characteristics of their flagship Shiraz.
The result of the marriage between German entrepreneur Paul Barth and South African businesswoman Pia Watermeyer, Kunjani Wines is a cross-continental brand that unites their cultures with a love for wine and entertaining. The building itself is testament to this brand identity.

Its architectural approach can be described as critical regionalism: using contextual forces to give a sense of place and meaning. The structure was designed in a Cape Dutch typology – laid out in an H-plan that draws on the traditional Afrikaner architectural style typical of the Western Cape winelands, with roots in medieval Germany among other places – by a prominent Stellenbosch architect.

This was turned on its head by painting the building exterior charcoal (instead of white) and adding traditional slate stone cladding, as well as red sliding screens inspired by the geometric patterns painted onto mud huts in West Africa. This counterbalances the South African colonial tradition with a much more current African aesthetic, with a prominent red contrast against the green vineyards. This postmodern approach aimed to make the building more inclusive through its symbolic use of other cultural signs.

The tasting room is the centrepiece of the space, whose relaxed and friendly atmosphere speaks to the greeting behind the name Kunjani, with a covered patio overlooking the breathtaking vista of the surrounding vineyards and mountains on the horizon. Inside, a collection of art and design pieces pay tribute to a South African context.

A round eight-seater dining table with a copper disc on top of black stained timber is situated at the intersection between the entrance and main dining space. Haldane Martin’s new Sim-Ply dining chairs in grey leather and red lacquer surround the dining table. The table is framed by a four-tiered brass halo ring chandelier overhead – a contemporary expression of a traditional farmhouse candle chandelier.

A notable architectural feature designed by Haldane Martin is a slatted wood vaulted ceiling with red steel tie rods, a contemporary expression of the charming reed ceilings in traditional farmhouses. An oak herringbone floor harmonises with the ceiling wood to create a light, warm backdrop for the airy open-plan space. The feature walls have a cosmopolitan black brush on pink-tan Crayola Wallpaper designed by Sara Ord from Robin Sprong, which resonates with Kunjani Wines’ painterly logo. To the side, a bar with quilted bronze cladding, dark wood and brass foot rail creates a serving area for a more engaged tasting experience. Sim-Ply barstools set underneath a new folded steel lighting design for Kunjani.

At the back wall a laser-cut steel wine display takes centre stage. Next to it, an intimate corner focal point forms around a banquet couch from Lim and tetrahedral-based tables with antique brass-plated steel tops designed by Haldane Martin with Cork Stools by Laurie Wiid. Above it, colourful portraits by Peter Pharoah (“Thoko” and “Bomvana”) are framed by Pedersen and Lennard Salisbury cantilevered wall lights.

In the lounge a leather Songololo Sofa by Haldane Martin creates a circular seating area, with a custom round rug, bronze clad fireplace and Sim-Ply lounge chairs in a teal blue. Above, brass halo ring LED lights in a random arrangement offset the symmetry of the lounge, creating a soft glow from above. Outside on the expansive open deck, comfortable furniture in the bold red on orange delicious monster print and wood gives visitors a space to relax and enjoy the view. Pieces include a James Mudge outdoor Iroko table, La Grange Wedge chairs and Goet Coffee Tables. A laser-cut steel zigzag patterned patio ceiling creates a dappled light effect across the patio like sitting under trees.

Downstairs a wine cellar with tasting area showcases the wines on beautiful original leather and steel wine racks – a new design by Haldane Martin for Kunjani Wines. A large painting, “Grace” by Peter Pharoah, brightens the space. The spiral staircase leading to the cellar is another notable design by Haldane Martin. A faceted Voronoi laser-cut pattern creates a beautiful tesselated light effect looking upwards from the cellar.

The front patio of the building is accented by red Zulu Mama chairs designed by Haldane Martin surrounding a round concrete table from Weylandts. Frameless glass entrance doors are flanked by Wiid Design’s Soma planters by Indigenus.

The entrance foyer has a black and red steel Dokter and Misses Lala drinks cabinet. A charcuterie fridge features an oak chopping block and shelving designed by Haldane Martin. The bathroom has a contemporary design with black sanitaryware and dark wood, a zigzag vanity, and a round mirror hung on a leather strap by Dark Horse.

Interior design by Haldane Martin Iconic Design
Photography by Micky Hoyle

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