DESIGN DESTINATION | Desert Grace hotel, Namibia

This beautifully-designed lodge steers clear of safari cliches; it's a wholly unexpected space in the vast expanse of the Namib desert

31 March 2019 - 00:00 By Julia Freemantle

Hot travel spot Namibia has recently seen a crop of edgy destinations launch in quick succession. The sensational scenery and proximity to SA make it a no-brainer as a location that offers an international experience a short distance away. The resulting forward-thinking lodges are pushing the boundaries of what constitutes safari design - and one of the most beautiful of these is Gondwana's new Desert Grace.
Located in the dunes between Sossusvlei and Solitaire, the lodge draws on its surroundings for inspiration. The unusual design by specialists Foxbrowne Creative indicates the industry's desire to move away from bush and safari clichés and welcome a fresh way of looking at these types of spaces.
"We live in an overly commoditised and often generic world so when you have the opportunity to present a unique narrative, you should, says Chris Browne, co-founder of Foxbrowne Creative. "In this project, the desert reigns supreme so we needed to give guests a little softness and whimsy."
As a result, the lodge's spatial design and interior aesthetic is unexpected, even playful. A semicircular layout, with rooms positioned to the south and the north, flanked by a restaurant and a bar with an ornamental pool and firepit in the centre, signifies the four elements. Safari motifs like animal skin and woven baskets are present but are given a different spin via colour palette, accessory choices and contemporary theme.
The most striking difference is the lack of expected features and its fun, irreverent feel. The predominantly pinkish colour scheme manifests in many ways, such as colour-blocked curtains, warm-hued timber furniture and post-sunset-coloured wallpaper. All you need to do is look outside to see the inspiration - the pink and purple mountainscape at sunset and golden dunes are a celebration of the desert spectrum.
Retro details such as neon signs, terrazzo tiled floors and curlicued lawn chairs provide a luxury take on Californian motels seen in movies. "We were inspired by the dusky pink desert sunsets and while putting together the scheme became enchanted by Wes Anderson's use of pink in his productions. So it became a combination of Palm Springs retro, quirky Wes Anderson and, of course, the Namib desert sunset," says Browne.
A green approach in the planning and design of the lodge acknowledges the delicate ecosystem and landscape it's located in, thus the team was mindful of maintaining a small footprint. Built out of sandbags filled with desert sand and featuring solar panels which double as car ports and a water recycling plant, Desert Grace adheres to solid environmental practices.

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day or Financial Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.