One of the most commonly asked questions at Londolozi is: “Who is responsible for the magnificent interiors?” Followed by: “How do you keep the camps looking good while being in the middle of the wilderness contending with swallows, hyenas and monkeys?”
The simple answer is like all things at Londolozi, we have a secret formula…
When our family returned to Londolozi in 2007 we wanted each of our camps to tell a story. The idea was that each camp should have its own personality ensuring that the bushveld space felt and looked like your version of an African home. It was with this in mind that we remembered our dear friend Yvonne O’Brien. We had only ever seen her work in private homes and we knew that she would add the right sophistication and feeling to the Londolozi journey. Yvonne together with Shan Varty, created a vision and story that are the Londolozi camps today.
Yvonne creates rooms that are understated, what I would describe as ‘elegant simplicity’. Interiors are personal and in the case of Londolozi, close to nature and to her love of Africa. For Yvonne, a good room is richly layered while maintaining a simple restraint. To walk into one of Yvonne’s rooms is to feel a personal touch and to observe every detail. Each piece that is used is handpicked and tells a story. From the African head masks, to the Horst Klem images seen in Granite to the glamorous ‘Out of Africa’ feel of Pioneer, each camp reflects the history of the place and the people who have played an important role in the Londolozi story.
We caught up with Yvonne recently to ask her some of the questions so many guests have asked us.
How would you describe your style? And what have been your major influences and inspirations?
I would say it is classic contemporary. It is an understated relaxed look. I am influenced by designers such as Vincent Wolfe and Ralph Lauren. I am always drawn to natural light interiors and muted colours such as shades of white, stones and taupe.
How did your journey with Londolozi begin?
In 2007, the Varty Family returned to Londolozi taking back the management of the reserve and camp. Dave and Shan Varty approached me and asked if I would refurbish Tree Camp, one of the five Londolozi Camps. It was my first ‘out of town’ project and it was nerve wracking but very rewarding. It has been eight years and I have now completed every single Londolozi camp and I am still part of the family and the furniture!
Out of the Five Londolozi Camps, what are some of your favourite rooms and why?
Each of the camps has a little something and it really depends on what you are looking for in your holiday experience. Having said that, Tree Camp is my favourite. It was my first love and remains so to this day. I am really excited as we will be refurbishing Tree Camp in November this year – I can’t wait.
I also love the main deck of Varty Camp. You can really feel the sense of history of Londolozi, its early pioneering days.
What are some of your favourite places to visit?
I love the city of Amsterdam. My favourite shop is ‘Wolternick’ situated near to the city.
Locally, I love everything about Africa and there is always a thread of African in my interiors.
Can you share some basic tips to help us spruce up our homes?
I’ve got three basic steps that should help any room:
- Take it all out and start again – putting back what you love and chucking out the things that have had their time.
- Fresh flowers and candles burning with your favourite smell
- Good lighting is key.
Your company is called Private House – tell us a bit about it
I have always wanted to own my own shop. I love sourcing products and displaying them. My shop is basically made up of everything I like for the home.
Could you provide details for us for those of in South Africa who would like to visit your shop?
We are in the Design Quarter on the corner of Leslie and Nicol in Fourways, Johannesburg. Our shop is just opposite Woolworths.
Yvonne has had many articles published on work she has done including the beautiful and famous camps and rooms at Londolozi – read some of the press articles here.
Yvonne, what can we say, just a huge thank you for your tireless work and the magic you create.
With gratitude, Your Londolozi Family.
Written by: Bronwyn Varty-Laburn.
A sneak peek at Yvonne’s new shop:
Why don’t you tell us which of the Londolozi Camps is your favourite and why?