The public spaces of the Spier Hotel have undergone a major
transformation and now boast a dramatic new look that accentuates the
Spier art collection.The reception area, lounge, bar and terrace, and restaurant in the
luxurious Winelands hotel have been redecorated in a vibrant style with
strong colours, patterns and textures that echo nature’s designs, and
furniture that encourages conversation.
A key part of the Spier brief to the interior designer, Dawn Dickerson
of Hot Cocoa in Cape Town, was that the redesign should create an
experience for guests, and should illustrate a contemporary, organic
‘The Spier Hotel was launched seven years ago and it was time to update
its décor while at the same time provide a contemporary backdrop that
complements the hotel’s renowned art collection,’ says brand director,
As a starting point, Dickerson removed the heavy wooden picture rails
and wrought-iron chandeliers. The floor was stained in a dark colour and
the walls painted in a neutral colour, to offset the strong red, purple
and lime accents used in the textiles.
The dining room, with its views of the Helderberg mountains and the
sweeping lawns that roll down to the river, now features banqueting
seating in a white leather theme with dark tables offset with lime
green. The seating is comfortable and inviting, the dark wood and lime
green echoing the colours in the garden.
A simple curved bar is the anchor of the bar and terrace area, with a
leather counter and sandblasted glass facade. The custom-made divans are
sculpted in reds, purples and lime with two key contemporary prints that
pull the colours together.
‘Spier offers a family-lifestyle experience and we wanted to tap into
that energy and give an expression to it three dimensionally,’ says
Dickerson. ‘The interior invites you to sit down and relax, put up your
feet with a cup of coffee, or a glass of Spier wine, to work on your
laptop or to simply unwind after a long journey.’
Spier has always been a place that encourages dialogue and the meeting
of minds. The spaces in the lounge area have been designed to encourage
the old fashioned art of conversation.
‘When you want to go to a hotel you want to be entertained; the light
and the use of colours create a starting point for conversation with
guests,’ says Dickerson.
‘We made use of L-shaped divans, which allow for semi-private
cordoned-off lounge areas. Each “lounge” has its own pattern and colour,
with a comfortable shaggy carpet,’ Dickerson explained.
‘We played with a contrast of textures. We offset rough-textured wooden
side tables with the divans’ smooth fabric and the sleek ash-wood coffee
tables. The overall effect has a natural organic feel,’ she added.
‘Lights are strategically positioned for dramatic effect and highlight
key artworks on the walls; sculptures are grounded on lightboxes and
theatre lights have been placed at the bar.
‘The result is that the artwork is the first thing you see at night,
while the theatre lights create a sense of drama around the bar. During
the day, however diffused lights fringe the perimeter of the room,
washing the walls with light.’
All about the art
Spier’s visual arts manager, Farzanah Badsha, had a fine time selecting
art to grace the walls of public areas, her selection coming from the
extensive Spier collection of contemporary South African art.
Badsha chose art which ‘gives insight into the experience of being South
African’. Some of the artists are established, others are still in early
stages in their careers. The works range across traditional boundaries
of art versus craft, and are in a variety of media.
‘The Spier collection reflects trends and developments within
contemporary South African art. It also visibly demonstrates how Spier
has nurtured artists by supporting their careers and being a patron of
the arts,’ says Badsha.
Badsha says the collection is rich in the work of South Africa’s women
artists. ‘I was able to create a mini theme in the lounge area where all
the art is by women. Ranging from Sue Williamson and Helen Sibidi, who
are established and part of the canon of South African contemporary art,
to younger women such as Deborah Poynton who are finding their place in
the art world.’
The work is displayed in such a way as to ‘not be intimidating to
viewers who may not engage with contemporary art on a regular basis’,
Badsha says selecting work for the public areas had different criteria
to curating art for the walls of a gallery. ‘It is not a white cube
gallery-space but almost has a domestic setting’.
Badsha says that unlike the more formal gallery environment, the Spier
lounge offers guests the chance to relax in a comfortable place and from
a seated position, really look at the art and engage with it rather than
‘giving it the 30 seconds one would if one was in a gallery or museum
‘Yet this isn’t traditional hotel art,’ says Badsha. ‘It is not chosen
to match the furniture but to add to the guests’ experience and
understanding of South Africa and its people and to showcase the best of
South African contemporary art.’
The walls of the dining room in the Spier Hotel are hung with an
extraordinary collection of beaded portraits created by a collective of
women called Qalo.
‘They also have an extra tie to Spier as the women who did the bead work
dressed up in their finery and posed on the set from uCarmen
e-Khayelitsha - the award winning movie made by Spier Films - and
photographed themselves. These photographs form the basis of the beaded
portraits we have hung on the restaurant’s walls,’ Badsha says.
Other works in the public spaces include art by John Mufangego, Malcolm
Payne, Pippa Skotnes, Jane Alexander, Lucas Bambo, Willie Bester,
Gabisile Nkosi, Claire Menck, MF Ledimo, and Wayne Barker. Sir Jacob
Epstein is the only non-South African artist included in the hotel.’