Privately nestled on a bend of the Sand River in South Africa, you will find an unparalleled safari haven. The &Beyond Tengile River Lodge is a tranquil paradise that practically blends in with its surroundings on the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Inclusive of 9 suites with private decks, outdoor lounging areas, and communal spaces that lead from the indoors out, this exclusive retreat provides an electric tranquility that can only be found here.
Created with the mindset of architecturally connecting the indoor environment with the South African landscape, the lodge design centers around earthy materials and textures repurposed from the surrounding land. Stones from the Stelati Railway, that once linked Johannesburg to Maputo, pave the floors. Native palettes of green, gold and brass fill every room, tying together the open concept spaces throughout the property. Raw, streaked timbers in the ceilings and walls provide a foundation for the nature-inspired design. A magnificent chandelier constructed from green sea glass hangs in the dining space.
To explore how the design so effortlessly ties the interior and exterior lodge spaces with the surrounding South African bush, we connected with designer Michele Throssell, the brilliant designer behind the &Beyond Tengile River Lodge.
Throssell tells us she initially found inspiration for the design concepts from the locally infamous Harry Kirkman. Kirkman, a skilled lion hunter, grew up in the era of big game hunting, before wildlife conservation was deemed necessary. While managing a cattle farm as a young man, his main role was to protect the livestock from their biggest threat – lions. Thus began an almost 10-year lion hunting spree that earned Kirkman quite the reputation. After a drought forced cattle farmers including Kirkman into a different livelihood, the well-known hunter came upon Kruger Park, and in a twist of fate became a conservationist. He spent the next 24 years as a park ranger, protecting the wildlife of the area from poachers and other threats. Inspired by Kirkman’s story, Throssell set out to create a true sense of serenity on the property, starting with the connection of indoors to the outdoors and the infusion of exterior elements to pull the spaces together.
Sitting in the communal spaces, it feels as if you have the entire river and surrounding bush to yourself as you take in the unobstructed views down the wide, sandy riverbed where elephants come to feed. Throssell chose the striking patterns and custom furniture selections at &Beyond Tengile River Lodge to represent Harry Kirkman’s ability to both live and work with his surroundings in the bush. The overall aesthetic of the lodge derives from the natural elements, including the animals and their habitats.
When it comes to the fabrics that can be found all over the property, Throssell describes the decision of choosing Sunbrella for this project as a trusting, confident one. “Knowing Sunbrella’s background with high quality design and performance, it was an easy decision to make whilst having to order a large volume of Sunbrella Fabric,” she recalls. “We knew the fabric would be easy to clean and low maintenance as well as durable, which is crucial for these Safari Lodges.”
As sustainability is a high priority of the property’s initiatives, Sunbrella’s reputation of long lasting durability made it an agreeing choice for the designer. Sunbrella products need not be replaced often, cutting costs and eliminating waste. In addition to using found and reclaimed resources and Sunbrella’s environmentally conscious fabrics, Throssell sought to use as many local suppliers and furniture manufacturers as possible. “…It’s a duty for us to be able to empower local businesses who will be able to show their craft in a luxurious lodge such as Tengile.”
The &Beyond Tengile Lodge is truly a remarkable property. From the robust use of the Catcus Blend Sunbrella pattern to the hand painted wildlife prints, the spaces are a reminder of the natural beauty of the South African bush that envelopes the lodge. Throssell’s holistic approach to design captivates the senses during even a short a stay at Tengile, bringing guests along on an extraordinary journey of discovery surrounded by South Africa’s greatest natural treasures.
“The bush has an intoxicative lure” Throssell admits, “with the dangers of big game and the elegance of certain animals married together to create a relationship of electric tranquility, making you feel one with nature.”
To learn more about &Beyond Tengile River Lodge, visit https://www.andbeyond.com/tengileriverlodge, and for more inspired design, follow @sunbrella on social channels!