Charles Eames – an American designer who gained fame as part of a creative partnership with his spouse – once said that “The role of the designer is that of a good, thoughtful host anticipating the needs of his guests”. These words hit the nail on the head when it comes to owners of Geiger’s Camp and Motswari Private Game Reserve, Marion Geiger-Orengo and Fabrice Orengo de Lamazière. They also happen to be another married couple who are able to successfully merge their creative talents, and have just proven this to be the case with a design and décor overhaul at Geiger’s Camp.
The property, originally a traditional family home, has long been known for its rustic charm and homely atmosphere, without any compromise on elegance. While it has seen gradual evolution from generation to generation, with members of Marion’s family adding various touches of their own, the camp’s defining characteristics remain intact. Its fresh look and feel, however, offers even more privacy and visual appeal than before.
“To us, the most effective refurbishments are achieved with subtlety,” says Marion. “While much work was done on this redesign project, we didn’t want to move away from the typical atmosphere that guests have come to know and love at Geiger’s Camp. The idea was to add more depth to what was already a wonderful setting.” Together, Marion and Fabrice worked towards this goal, remaining involved in each phase of the project and applying their in-depth insight into guests’ requirements.
Although the couple always conceptualises design changes themselves, they are not shy to collaborate with various artists to collate a variety of design elements. “To bring this project to life, we worked together with renowned interior decorator, David Strauss, who has had a relationship with Motswari for over 15 years,” shares Marion. “He knows the property well and understands our vision.”
The interiors received soft but effective updates. Craft chandeliers, brass mirrors, and new bathroom tiles and fittings with a touch more luxury were introduced. Special items created by Cape Town Artist, Bianca de Klerk, local potters from Strydom Tunnel and Kaross embroidered African art and one-of-a-kind home décor items, handmade by the VaTsonga ladies of Southern Africa, were also introduced.
“We always strive to showcase South African art by working with local craftsmen and retailers because their art embodies a passion for colour and the tactile experience of African culture,” says Marion. An accomplished artist herself, Marion also displays a number of her artworks on the walls (and now on over-sized linen cloths), changing them as she creates new pieces.
With regards to the “frame” of the property, the refurbishment involved an extensive, below-the-surface renovation in which new trenches, walls, wooden decks, and electricity and water systems were installed. Brand new outdoor showers were created in newly built, private shaded courtyards. These have been named the “Robynne Showers” after one of the Motswari safari guides who collected all the tree trunks which form part of the shower design.
For the last 12 years, Fabrice has worked with a local artisan, Richard Ngwenya, who has been exclusively responsible, together with his team, for all renovations at Motswari. Paying exceptional attention to detail on this project, Fabrice and Richard decided to have each rock and stone used for the building to be hand scrubbed in order to bring out the natural colours.
When it came to the bush garden, Marion and Fabrice went all out. Working together with well-known garden designer, Henk Scholtz, they introduced a new look altogether. Henk brought stones and wood together artistically to create an outdoor masterpiece. They also sourced larger trees, and stunning aloes and cacti.
Guests can thus look forward to a tranquil setting, a feel-good atmosphere and exceptionally comfortable accommodation where they are able to relax and bask in the beauty of this refreshed environment. Some things, of course, have not changed at all: Guests will still be spoilt during every moment of their stay and will enjoy the same warm hospitality that has always existed at this reserve. Without any doubt at all, Marion and Fabrice succeed on a continual basis at putting the needs of their guests first.
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