The Molori Safari Art Rug Project: A Tapestry of Design - We Are Africa

The Molori Safari Art Rug Project: A Tapestry of Design

In the last quarter of 2020, during the pandemic, the Molori Safari team embarked on an interior and art collection update to give our guests a neo-safari experience. The project was completed in March 2022. Known for their bold eclectic aesthetic, Molori Safari carefully chose an interior partner, Hesse Kleinloog, to create a light interior upgrade with a focus on art as a safari differentiator for guests.

Molori Safari has a large selection of ever-changing contemporary South African artists showcased throughout the lodge.  To name a few, Lady Skollie, Norman Catherine, Dylan Lewis, and Debra Bell.  The art is part of the Ichikowitz Family Foundation’s Art Collection.  Molori Safari continually intends to bring new art in and keep it fresh. Each guest, if interested in the art, is offered a short and informative art tour of the lodge as an ‘art-focused’ activity.

In line with the art theme, Andrea Kleinloog of Hesse Kleinloog approached Koos Groenewald of Jana+Koos to find out if he knew of a supplier who could create an organically shaped carpet which included artwork. Koos, an artist in his own right, jumped at the challenge. It started with just one rug, but the excitement was palpable as he began talking to other globally acclaimed, local artists about creating contemporary artworks to weave into large and colourful floor rugs. It was soon dubbed ‘the art rug project’ and they began to look at rug manufacturers who could help realise their vision.

Ultimately, they discovered the highly professional team of skilled craftspeople at Brabetz Carpet Mill in Durban. It was high-risk – there were no colour charts, no one was able to visit the mill during lockdown, and everything was done over video and phone. A collaborative force of trust, indeed. The six artists all contributed to the designs of the rugs and visited Molori only once they had already been installed. They were blown away by the craft and skill of interpreting their artworks into these grand rugs that feature in every suite in the lodge as well as one in the main lodge area. The rugs are artworks in their own right!

The globally renowned artists are Athi-Patra Ruga, Cameron Platter, Jody Paulsen, Maja Marx, Nabeeha Mohamed and Koos Groenewald. Koos Groenewald understood what was required to create digitised patterns and spoke to the selected artists about which art piece they thought would fit his brief and work well as an art rug.

Andrea Kleinloog, the interior designer, selected those colours that were best suited to the suite décor and suite names.  For instance, Molelo (presidential suite) means fire.  The rugby Athi-Patra Ruga which features in Molelo, is brightly coloured with a lot of red and orange tones, representing fire. The same is true for Metsi (Presidential suite), which means water.  The rug by Maja Marx is calming and resembles the colours of water.

The result of this design project is enchanting. The original philosophy is to delight each guest with the unexpected and has been achieved this with this immersive, high-fashion experience, one that is unexpected in the African bush. It celebrates the country’s vibrant cultures and love of colour, while pushing creative boundaries and raising the bar, proving that even in the heart of a pandemic, South Africans were particularly good at ‘making a plan’!

The ‘art rugs’ defy all other genres that we see in the safari world. Molori Safari now gives an adventurous, spirited vision of a safari – it’s about unabashed joy and humour.

Guests have enjoyed the fun art element throughout the lodge.  The notable feedback is that guests are always quite stunned by the colourful rugs and comment on how soft and practical they are, even though they’re artworks. Each carpet is incredibly durable and even in high-traffic areas, they’re beautiful and functional.  Guests walk on them, sit on them, spill on them and treat them like normal carpets.  They’re easy to clean.

It has been a delight to witness our guests reactions to these gorgeous and somewhat humorous artworks on our floors. Objective achieved – a neo-safari experience! – Toni Suddes

These art rugs showcase South Africa’s amazing talented artists who all are global names in the art world.  It is wonderful to showcase local talent in this way to our mostly international market who get to interact with the beautiful functional art during their stay.

Adapted with special thanks to Toni Suddes from Molori Safari.


Melisa Harvey

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