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Design Gone Wild: How ‘art safari’ is changing the way we culture travel in Africa

Interior of Molori Safari lounge looking out at the deck with pool

At Molori Safari, a leading South African Luxury game lodge, discover an extensive collection of art and design alongside Big 5 wildlife with breathtaking views of the African landscape. With the interiors recently reimagined by celebrated design duo Hesse Kleinloog, Molori Safari is the darling of the bushveld scene

The Votive Portrait of Her’ work by Athi-Patra Ruga adapted into a wool rug in the Presidential Molelo Suite
The Votive Portrait of Her’ work by Athi-Patra Ruga adapted into a wool rug in the Presidential Molelo Suite

How do you up the ante when you’re already regarded as one of South Africa’s most ultra-luxurious hideaways? If you’re the team behind the five-suite luxury Molori Safari lodge, located within the 75 000-hectare, malaria-free and game-rich Madikwe Game Reserve bordering Botswana, you pioneer a game-changing take on culture travel: art safari.

Considered the jewel of Madikwe game reserve in the country’s North-West, Molori always been known for its high-glam interiors, vibrant colors and spirited approach – whether experiencing the ‘Big 10’ (that’s the traditional Big 5 with the addition of hippos, cheetah, hyena, giraffe, and the endangered African wild dog) or enjoying the recently reimagined interiors, headed up by lauded SA designer Andrea Kleinloog and Megan Hesse. ‘Our initial involvement was meant to be a small, light intervention but the circular nature of the architecture meant that we had to marry our design with the organic structure of the lodge,’ says Andrea Kleinloog, who masterminded the new interiors.

A golden prickly pear sculpture adds a pop of glamor; ‘Bearing Your Becoming’ bronze, stone and marble sculpture by Angus Taylor beside the grand piano
A golden prickly pear sculpture adds a pop of glamor; ‘Bearing Your Becoming’ bronze, stone and marble sculpture by Angus Taylor beside the grand piano

Known for their boldly eclectic aesthetic, Molori Safari chose the dynamic South African design team at Hesse Kleinloog to take a fresh look at its interiors and – along with a striking update – incorporate artworks from the private Ichikowitz Heritage Art Collection into the lodge design, ushering in the age of the art safari. A unique opportunity, guests are able to live in luxury, surrounded by both blue-chip art and exceptional wildlife.

Abstract’ painted tubular steel sculpture by Edoardo Villa at the pool
Abstract’ painted tubular steel sculpture by Edoardo Villa at the pool

Highlights from the collection that now call Molori home include four pieces by sculptor Edoardo Villa, one of Deborah Bell’s large-scale bronze works nestled into the bush near the main lodge (a fitting synchronicity between the surroundings and Bell’s own fascination with ancient civilizations and their excavated artifacts). Inside, miniature works and sculpture by Norman Catherine can be found in the Metsi lounge while, in the main lodge area near the grand piano, a work by sculptor Angus Taylor and, greeting guests at the entrance, a true conversation-starter by artist Lady Skollie.

Molori Safari lodge is nestled into the African bushveld; Koos Groenewald rug in the Sephiri Suite
Molori Safari lodge is nestled into the African bushveld; Koos Groenewald rug in the Sephiri Suite

Collectible design also comes to the fore in Hesse Kleinloog’s stellar project, with flamboyant and delightfully quirky wallpaper from The Ardmore Collection adding playfulness and color while, on the floors, multi-disciplinary studio Jana+Koos interpreted the works of Athi-Patra Ruga, Cameron Platter, Jody Paulsen, Maja Marx, and Nabeeha Mohamed into a collection of bespoke rugs (the works themselves were digitized, which enabling master craftsmen at Durban-based Brabetz Carpet Mill to produce these unique three-dimensional, textured works of functional art).

‘The result is enchanting,’ says Molori owner, Ivor Ichikowitz. ‘Our philosophy is to delight our guests with the unexpected and I believe we have achieved this with our new-look luxury interiors and by adding gravitas to our art collection.’

Leopard Chasing Buck II’ sculpture by Dylan Lewis
Leopard Chasing Buck II’ sculpture by Dylan Lewis

There is no doubt that the new Molori interiors invite an immersive, high-fashion experience, one that is unexpected in the African bush. Astonishing and fresh, it celebrates the country’s vibrant cultures and love of color, while pushing creative boundaries. ‘It defies all other genres that we see in the safari world,’ says Andrea. ‘Molori now gives an adventurous, spirited vision of a safari – it’s about unabashed joy and humor.’

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