Historic Tulbagh Farm

PHOTOS Elsa Young WORDS Ashraf Booley

A designer with an intuitive design philosophy was asked to come up with a cohesive creative vision for a 307-year-old Boland farm, and the result is magical and mesmerising.

This was not a design task I could think my way towards resolving, but had to feel my way towards. I had to watch and listen, and wait for the answers to reveal themselves,” says creative interior director Tracy Lee Lynch of Studio Leelynch.

Employing this philosophy as her guide, in collaboration with architect Rick Stander, Tracy revamped the interiors on the historical Twee Jonge Gezellen farm in Tulbagh, the home of Krone MCC bubblies. For Tracy, the thing that stood out about the farm was its history – and the narratives around it. “The story of the farm holds deep magic within itself: the centuries of visionary experimentation that led to the discovery of cold fermentation, for example, and the night harvest, where the grapes are brought in by moonlight when their sugars are at their peak. These mysterious processes, known so intimately and intuitively by the winemaker, seemed to mirror my creative process.”

Tracy has honoured the brief of the owners, the late Tim Rands and his daughter Abigail Rands. “Our vision,” says Abigail, “is to create exceptional Cap Classique, combining a strong sense of tradition with innovative technique and ideas. The spaces speak a similar language where the old is challenged by the new. I gave Tracy the freedom to interpret the spaces intuitively. We spent a lot of time on the farm together and our vision became one.”

Tracy wanted to return the buildings to their authentic state. In order to achieve this, structural changes had to be made. The entrance, for instance, was moved back to its original place, and apertures slit into the walls allow shafts of natural light to pour in at the best angles. But it is the circular motif, seen in rounded windows and arches, that ultimately became the main design theme. This shape subsequently popped up in various design interior elements. “The circle/ bubble motif finds itself reiterated in details of objects such as trays and spitoons,” says Tracy.

The underground cellar has been left untouched, but the tasting room got a facelift. “A small arched window that looked from the tasting room into the storeroom was dropped down to floor level to create a long arched opening. This opening now has a physical relationship to the person standing looking through it, framing and enclosing the body,” is how Tracy describes the transformation and the experience that comes with it.

She introduced a large round bar, which once again reflects the circle motif. The standout piece is by celebrated furniture designer Gregor Jenkin, who created the bronze bar with the help of Charles Haupt from Bronze Age Studio. It features geometric shapes reminiscent of the cages that hold the estate’s bubblies.

“There is nothing in the tasting room that isn’t necessary to the functioning of the space,” says Tracy. “It’s important to preserve the monastic quality of the room, which allows for minimal distractions from the sensory complexities of the wine itself.” Other local designers with whom Tracy collaborated are Meyer Von Wielligh, Ceramic Matters, Wiid Design, Mema Designs and Egg Designs. Then, with curator Amy Ellenbogen, she selected works by artists represented by SMITH studio to display as a way to tie the interior design story together.

For Tracy, the permanence of the traditional architecture stands in contrast to the movable modern design elements she introduced – so if the latter were to be removed, it would leave only the estate’s history.