Downscaling to a Pied-à-terre

A jolt of yellow frames the entrance to the bridal suite.

The deck is a leafy oasis. It’s the perfect spot for a quiet mid-morning cup of coffee.

Much to the amusement of almost anyone who visits, Malcolm Kluk and Christiaan Gabriel Du Toit like to think of their home in Cape Town’s trendy Bree Street as a return to simplicity. “We tell everyone that it’s very minimal, but our friends walk in and ask, ‘What’s minimal about this?’” laughs Kluk. Indeed, the founders of haute couture brand KLûK CGDT, who are known for their penchant for exuberant color, daring pattern and meticulous detailing, are rarely associated with minimalism. And the space that they live in, just above their flagship showroom, is packed to the rafters with art, design, plants, books and of course, the makings of new, bespoke dresses. “It’s not that we moved into a small space – this isn’t very small – but rather that we decluttered our lifestyle,” says Kluk. Du Toit chimes in, “You can’t believe how much isn’t here!”

This breakfast nook is both the perfect spot for a cup of coffee while Bree Street comes alive in the morning and a place to wind down at nighttime, overlooking the city lights. Surrounding the glass and marble table are chairs from Gilles de Moyencourt. The antique Japanese sideboard is from Onsite Gallery. The standing lamp is from a secondhand store in Fish Hoek.

The couple, who have been partners in business and life for 17 years, relocated to the studio, after deciding to knock down their long-term four bedroom Fresnaye home and develop it into an upmarket apartment block with the distinct style of the KLûK CGDT brand. Downscaling for this home meant making some difficult decisions about what would stay and what would go. “We had to be pretty ruthless,” Kluk says. The first thing to be tackled was the couple’s beloved art collection. “We decided to first choose our favorites, and once they were in place we would find the space for the rest,” notes Du Toit. When hung on these walls, they found works were given new context. “There were pieces that we hadn’t really appreciated before this,” he says, nodding to a series of six playful paintings by Gabrielle Raaff that come alive against the dusty pink walls of the living area. Some of the notable works making the cut include art and sculpture by Andrzej Urbanski, Ceramic Matters of Cape Town, Hylton Nel and Andrew Verster.

The couple like to offset pastel neutrals against shocks of zingy citrus, perfectly demonstrated by the Urbanski artwork, which hangs against the wall. The horns were from a nursery in JHB and vases were from Mr. Price.

The tiger rug designed by KLûK CGDT and Mae Artisan Rugs and citrine side table are playful touches against the warm neutrals that dominate this zone. The standing lamp is from Recreate and the grey armchair is from Billy Moon Antiques and Collectibles.

Surprise is found in every display in the home, even the drinks cabinet, where a Papier Mâché Maquette from the Guggenheim Museum (artist Georges Braque) peeks out from between the bottles.

This display features an artistic take on Kluk by Kurt Pio, a gift from Du Toit.

As creative directors, the couple realized that their dressmaking ethos – that of fashioning something deeply resonant for their clients – was key to their enjoyment of their own home. “When we make clothes for a bride, it’s about indulging that person and making that person feel good and we put ourselves into that, too. ‘How do we live?’ ‘What do we want?’ And it’s always thinking about our perspective,” says Kluk. That sentiment echoes in every part of their new home, from the artworks that they’ve almost hidden from view – nuggets of appreciation for their eyes only – to the architecture itself. Seen from above, part of the building’s shape resembles a heart, so they covered the top with a coat of crimson, a perfectly personal symbol. “There is always an element of surprise in everything we do,” declares Du Toit.

At the entrance of the shop, surprise hits you with a jolt of “citrine tennis ball,” Du Toit insists – that covers the door frame. “We are not beige or grey people,” he notes. “We are about color and color juxtaposition and print, and we love mixing it and pushing ourselves.” Spread over two stories, the shop is the embodiment of their love for hue. On the ground floor a Yves Klein Blue desk stands in contrast to the dusty pink walls, the brand’s signature color called You’re My Sweetie. The staircase that gently curves up to the second floor is offset with a geometric steel balustrade by local artist Rodan Kane Hart. Even the structure itself stands as an anomaly.

In one corner of the bedroom a graphic artwork takes center stage. The chair is from a secondhand store.

A workman’s pulley has been given new life as a drinks cart. Artwork from Krisjan Rossouw and Johan Naude hangs in this area of the living zone.

Pattern comes through the cushion by KLûK CGDT in Vlisco fabric and a throw from midlands meander in the bedroom. The artwork above the bed is by Anton De Sousa Costa and the lamps are from Onsite Gallery.

Back in 2014, when Bree Street was just beginning to gain its reputation as the city’s hippest thoroughfare, the couple approached interior architect Craig Kaplan to create an altogether new building. Brick, black and glass, this facade was something Cape Town had not yet seen. “We push our own boundaries and take risks and we are prepared to live with that,” Kluk explains. “There has definitely been a change in our aesthetic,” he continues. “We used to talk about how the house had a ‘Miss Havisham’ overgrown quality. While the eclecticism remains, it’s much more contemporary. Just about everything you see here comes from the KLûK CGDT showrooms or the old home, but recovered, repainted and reworked.

“We aren’t ones to go into a store and buy new stuff. We do love items that have provenance. I don’t think our look is retro or even midcentury – it’s more about something that is a little different or unique and making it our own.”

And the living zone is peppered with these unique finds, from an old chimney flue that’s now a coffee table to the navy armchairs they found in a junkshop – “possibly Cassina,” remarks Kluk – and reupholstered in velvet. All the colorful modernity mingles well with the couple’s own pursuits in product design, such as the vibrant and playful tiger rugs, produced in collaboration with Mae Pakdoust.

Among the things that were carefully edited was the couple’s wardrobe. “I look after my pieces now,” says Du Toit. “Dawg” by Kope | Figgins is one of the creative collaborations between Klûk CGDT and local artists for their spring summer 2016 collection.

An old-school filing cabinet is cleverly repurposed as a bathroom cabinet. “Luxury for us comes in little indulgences, like using Aesop, a skincare brand we both love,” notes Du Toit.

KLûK CGDT bridal suite.

A mood wall provides inspiration and memory with a collection of special mementos, such as a letter from Michelle Obama, a Christian Dior Barbie and a signed photo from Annie Lennox.

“Emotion, experience and indulgence,” concludes Kluk, “that’s what we are about.” And while the city pied-à-terre was a lesson in downsizing, Kluk and Du Toit realized that sometimes the biggest indulgences are found in the smaller delights, such as the urban rooftop, complete with requisite greenery and a grass patch where their schnauzer Yohji can roll around and where they can steal away for a bite in the sun, or a glimpse of the sunset overlooking the bustle of Bree Street.

“Despite what you might think from looking at it, simplicity is the essence of this home. It’s emancipating,” Kluk insists, and Du Toit agrees. “I feel connected to the city. Getting home excites me. It makes me feel alive.”

Photography by Greg Cox/Bureaux.

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