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Cape Town’s Masterclass in Creative Collaboration

Architecture, Destinations, The Design Hotels Book

001 Gorgeous George Header

Words Zsuzsanna TothImages Claus Brechenmacher and Reiner Baumann for Design HotelsDate 07 October 2020

While most might be able to find the second most populous city in South Africa on a map, it is also home to delights that can be a little less obvious to those not in the know. The creative scene is a case in point—a constant collaboration of cultures, crafts, and voices apparent on almost every street corner and found within many unexpected buildings.

Gorgeous George is just one of them. The creation of the hotel itself was a successful exercise in bringing together different, vibrant elements, formed as it was from two restored heritage buildings—one Art Deco, one New Edwardian. Connected in the 1940s, the structures have been partially preserved: oak flooring and original brass doors blend in with concrete and steel. Inside, it houses artworks and carefully selected interior elements, curated by the Johannesburg-based interior designer Tristan du Plessis. Well-known for emphasizing beautiful details while avoiding clichés, he, essentially, designed a creative—and indeed gorgeous—“living room for the neighborhood.”

His approach? Collaborating with some of the city’s most exciting artists, who have their own formulas for bridging timeless and contemporary design.

002 Gorgeous George Facade

The hotel is situated in the heart of buzzing downtown

Grounding through natural materials 

The (hi)story of David Krynauw is repeating itself. Born in Piet Retief, a South African town surrounded by woods and economically driven by timber and paper industries, Krynauw learned early on in life about the purposes and beauty of wood. His father, who owned a town hotel, decided that rather than buying generic furniture he would create his own and developed a great passion for woodwork in the process. It was a passion that he passed onto his son David. Upon finishing school, Krynauw decided to study agriculture and winemaking, but soon realized that he kept returning to the craft of furniture-making. His stylish wooden creations can be found throughout the hotel.

004 Gorgeous George Lobby Painting

Gorgeous George weds bold South African design with 18th-century grandeur

003 Gorgeous George Lobby Shelf

Furniture pieces by David Krynauw, Gregor Jenkin and Dokter and Misses

Clarity through bold modernist shapes 

Established in 2008 by graphic designers Katy Taplin and Adrian Hugo, the Johannesburg-based Dokter and Misses develop furniture and lighting solutions. The husband-and-wife duo’s work has become synonymous with the city: bold shapes, strong construction, and outside-the-box design solutions. Utilizing a wide range of techniques, such as hand tools, laser-cutting, and painting, their work remains both eclectic and timeless. The pair find their biggest inspiration, however, in human form: each other.

Thought-provoking functionality 

The question of weighing form versus function is no doubt as ancient as design itself. For Gregor Jenkin—a “maker of things”—that tension acts as a thread that runs through his work. His studio focuses its attention on the physical act of creation and solving problems systematically, using design as a byproduct of their process. Jenkin’s work includes table and seating solutions as well as lighting. For Gorgeous George, he designed one of the most eye-catching features: the handmade, stainless steel legs found on the hand-turned basins in the bathrooms.

Combining avant-garde and traditional techniques 

A natural born polymath, Laurie Wiid van Heerde combines his own skills with those of fellow designers and artists. His work ranges across a variety of materials and products such as tableware and lighting to furniture and collectible objects. But he’s most known for his work with an oft-overlooked material, cork, producing the world’s largest pendant light and cabinet. At Gorgeous Gorge, he settled for more traditional materials, that of handmade steel, timber, and reactive glazed ceramic tiled side tables in the lobby.


005 Gorgeous George Window

A restored Art Deco building that makes up one part of the hotel

007 Gorgeous George Room Wall David Brits

A bespoke, street-art-inspired mural by Brits in each room

006 Gorgeous George Sidetable

A neutral-to-dark canvas showcases modern African aesthetics

Transforming family passion into art 

The interdisciplinary artist’s interest in snakes and reptiles is a multi-faceted one. It began when his grandfather taught him how to catch a snake at age 10. He developed an instant fascination. Later, he collected frogs and lizards and milked snakes and spiders to produce anti-venoms and other medicinal products. After his grandfather’s death, Brits started working through the scrapbooks and notes that were left behind and started transforming them into art, predominantly paintings. With a deep interest in yogic and Hindu tradition, the snake symbol also symbolizes psychic energy for Brits. His large-scale paintings can be found snaking their way across the walls of Gorgeous George.

008 Gorgeous George Cape Town Landscape

Cape Town is a dizzying mix of cultures and stunning natural surroundings

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Gorgeous George is featured in the Design Hotels Book. The 2020 edition marks an innovative new editorial and artistic direction for the design anthology, created in collaboration with some of the world’s leading photographers. 

Get your copy here

Featured Hotels

T Gorgeous George Cape Town South Africa

Gorgeous George

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Featured Hotels

T Gorgeous George Cape Town South Africa

Gorgeous George

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