It's in good taste: La Colombe gets a fresh look

This acclaimed eatery in the Constantia winelands has had a treehouse-inspired makeover - it's now a calm, luxe space where the food and leafy views can do the talking

16 September 2018 - 00:00 By Julia Freemantle

A bastion of good taste, La Colombe is renowned as a setting for gastronomic theatre and a showpiece for what the Constantia winelands has to offer by way of culinary and scenic excellence.
Executive chef James Gaag's food philosophy that champions seasonal produce and clean elegant flavours, under chef proprietor Scot Kirton, is enhanced by its tranquil treed setting on Silvermist Wine Estate.
The decision that the space needed to be reworked structurally and cosmetically saw Bone Design Studio tasked with giving it a new look within only six weeks. Though Hayley Turner and Nicola Orpen of Bone Design work on a range of residential, hospitality and corporate projects, they've had extensive experience reimagining restaurant spaces and had a fresh perspective.
Increased internal seating and a lighter overall feel and flow were achieved by pushing out the external glazing wall to include the balcony space, rethinking the kitchen layout and lifting the roof. "La Colombe allowed us complete freedom and entrusted the final design to us. It's a luxury to work without any creative confines," says Orpen.
The setting as well as the restaurant's strong culinary identity inspired the design direction. "We felt we needed to transform the interior into a refined treehouse - a calm, neutral space where the trees and the food do the talking," says Turner.
A cool arboreal palette and subtle layering of materials (blonde wood, quilted upholstery and pearlescent travertine tiling) form a satisfying balance of texture and offer a soothing but refreshing effect on the senses.
A large-scale homage to the surroundings by artist Lucie de Moyencourt mirrors the gumtrees outside in a striking mural that also features "la colombe" (the dove). This motif can also be seen in the various charming poplar sculptures hand-carved by craftsman Lameck Tayengwa. "Supporting local artisans is hugely important in our design climate," adds Orpen.
"We were focused on creating a comfortable dining dynamic that wasn't conceited, which is why we balanced the polished contemporary elements with more humble materials."
The overall feel is simple, but luxurious, clean and yet not clinical. "We were conscious of not over designing, and the tight six-week programme disallowed any second-guessing and over-complication," adds Turner.

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