The Skukuza Rest Camp located on the south-western edge of the Kruger National Park is not only familiar and well-loved by many South Africans but also by numerous international visitors. Collaborating with a local architect, the public interior spaces were designed to sync with the high thatch roof structure and natural material palette.
Inspiration were drawn from the local Tsonga and Swazi communities’ use of color and clothing, for example pendant lights take their cue from the movement of the Tsonga’s skirts during traditional dance. Custom patterns were developed for decorative purposes in the interior of the lodge, inspired by the Tsonga’s informal and earthen architecture and village site plans. Remarkable esoteric and religious symbols can be found in the layout of the villages and organization of functions, which were broken up as part of the design process in order to be stitched into a new graphical pattern. The patterns were iterated into a few different versions, visible in different areas of the lodge’s interior, for example printed timber wall panels, embroidered murals and laser-cut steel signage.
The interior also becomes the exhibition space of local artisans’ craft, for example grass weaving from Gone Rural in Swaziland, glass bottles and bead work from Madilika Craft Centre in Sabi Sands, and embroidered wall murals, portraits and cushions from Kaross Embroidery in Letsitele. Custom design pieces were also manufactured by Gauteng based creatives, like Mash T Design Studio, The Urbanative and Homewood. Together with these authentic artifacts the interior furniture and fixtures were curated into an inviting, comfortable escape from the bush veld heat.
Yellow and green accents, together with Blackwood timber where chosen for the reception area to achieve a certain coolness when stepping inside. Blue and red becomes the features of the restaurant; and terracotta and olive green give color to the multi functional outdoor bar space. The patio, arranged around a courtyard, leads to a magnificent old baobab, a swimming pool and gym. The high volumes of the reception and restaurant are softened with fanned timber bulkheads featuring yellow and red rope weaving and lights. The interior becomes a surprising treasure in the middle of the bush, and a welcome retreat after a day of exploring the beautiful surroundings.