Who says a place of business can’t be a place of play? It can. See how designer Tracy Lee Lynch and stylist Julie Kenney use the brilliance of paint to animate an otherwise grey, urban space.
It’s a funny thing,” says retired pianist and singer Annali Cilliers of the first time she set foot inside Jubilee House five years ago. “The building spoke to me; there was a feeling about the place.” But this Art Deco building in Cape Town’s eastern precinct was also tired. So designer Tracy Lee Lynch and stylist Julie Kenney were tasked with giving it a new and more awake feeling. How? Simply by combining colour in new and creative ways.
“Thanks to my fine arts background, the first questions I always ask are, ‘How do I feel when I first walk in?’ and ‘What can we do here that’s least invasive but most effective?’” says Tracy. No stranger to tight budgets, she also likes to think of “resurfacing” not “gutting”. Usually, this involves the clever use of colour. But it also calls for the right inspiration – in this case from art films, urban trends, and the iconic Adidas sneaker.
The resulting palette included a silver-grey backdrop; accent walls in charcoal for depth; pops of psychedelic colour on skirtings, steps, handrails and doorframes; and second-hand pine furniture painted glossy white with artful stripes and drips.
After some initial nerves over the choice of such vivid tints, Annali became a firm believer in the power of colour. “I trusted Tracy and Julie completely,” she says. “It’s incredible how my appreciation for colour has been awakened since starting to work with them. It makes life so much more interesting.”
MAKING IT WORK
The building: It’s called Jubilee House – an Art Deco-boned building that was the location of some of the very first Protest meetings Cape Town ever saw. You’ll find it in The Fringe – the eastern CBD’s innovative design, leisure and entertainment district. Fantasy-filled Charly’s Bakery is on an adjacent block, and beacon of creativity, The Fugard Theatre, is just down the drag. Yes, it’s an historically significant place. But until recently, it was also showing its age. “Depressing, derelict and dull – a Roger Ballen moment,” is how the designer describes it pre-makeover, referencing the famed black-and-white photographer-artist with a penchant for physical abandonment and disrepair. But that was then. This is now.
The client: It was purchased on auction about five years ago by then newly retired Capetonian classical pianist and singer, Annali Cilliers, and her fine artist son. The new owners of Jubilee House rented it out, pre-furbishing, as affordable accommodation for students.
The brief: When The Fringe was officially launched as the city’s new creative hub in early 2011, Annali knew it was time to bring the building up to speed with its innovative, urban surrounds. “I wanted a clean canvas that would attract young, imaginative thinkers,” she says. The jazzy, colourful remake has produced a fresh studio space for up-and-coming creatives. Geometric patterns, colour blocking, matt and gloss finishes, and light and dark tones combine in a slick, sophisticated and funky effect.
The designers: The spruce-up project fell into the capable hands of stylist and decorator, Tracy Lee Lynch – winner of The Fabric Library’s International Decorator of the Year 2011. Tracy collaborated with fellow stylist, Julie Kenney, a frequent partner in design on décor magazine editorial assignments over the years.
How to: Work your work space