Living and working: Cape Town City Bowl
Architect Phillip Wyatt has struck that work/life balance right on key. It helps that his home and office are only two kilometres apart in Cape Town’s City Bowl.
His wife Julia and growing family (at the time of writing, Julia is pregnant with the couple’s second child), his love of design, which has seen his appointment as director of one of the city’s burgeoning interior design and architecture firms, Inhouse Brand Architects (IBA). Then there’s his love of the Cape Town City Bowl, and, of course, his prized guitar collection. ‘Work is important and design is my passion, but I believe family is what brings balance to your life. So any free time I have is spent with my wife and son,’ says Phillip. ‘There’s no time like the present and so I try to get things done now rather than let them add up, which, in turn, frees up time later on to spend with friends and family or to just kick back and strum on one of my guitars.’
Center of Everything
His 280 square meter Victorian home in Tamboerskloof is a showcase of all of these loves. He and Julia moved in three years ago and, prior to that, had been living in a flat in the road behind the house. ‘We’ve always loved living in the City Bowl with its vibrant ambience and plenty of choices of things to do, and especially now living a stone’s throw away from trendy Kloof Street aka the “Soho” of Cape Town,’ he says.
Old meets New
Being an old Victorian, the house was an outlet for Phillip’s appetite for design and underwent a major overhaul before the family moved in. Explains Phillip: ‘Typical Victorian houses have long dark passageways between rooms, which didn’t work for us. We opened up the house by knocking through into the lounge and creating a larger entrance lobby space, as well as opening the kitchen out onto a small courtyard and installing some folding stack doors to maximise the connection with the outdoors. The kitchen was also very outdated so we redid the entire room: put in new cupboards, a glass wall and a new floor, and opened up a link into the scullery.’ The home is an exemplary fusion of old bones plumped with new flesh, and Phillip retained as much of the Victorian character as possible; there’s even an original stained-glass window with a family crest that he is researching, and one of his favourite features is the volume of space throughout thanks to the three-metre-high ceilings. Most of the contemporary furniture and loose fittings are bespoke and were designed by him and Julia.
The home has that lived-in-family vibe, but there’s also a distinct sophistication to it with an added element of eccentricity thanks to, among other things, the glossy black piano and Phillip’s three guitars, which have pride of place in the living area. ‘I’ve been playing guitar for 20 years now and they are a snapshot of how I have progressed through the years.’ Something else that shows progression in Phillip’s life is his other love, his firm Inhouse Brand Architects. In April last year, he attained directorship, along with founding members Aidan Hart and Lawrence Holmes, of the well- established interior design and architecture firm. Since he first joined the business in 2004 it has grown exponentially in both staff and repute, currently with over 25 employees and an impressive client list.
He believes the recipe to this success is not having a distinct style and, instead, allowing the clients’ needs to dictate each project. ‘Passion, determination and innovation are key,’ he enthuses. ‘It’s a tough industry and you need to continuously innovate to keep at the forefront of design trends, not to mention start a few of your own’. Phillip and his business partners travel often to international design shows, coming back with heaps of inspiration and ideas – the forward- thinking interiors they put their hand to are testament of this.
Buzzing Bree Street
The location of Inhouse Brand Architects’ HQ (they have offices in Johannesburg and London, too) in a heritage building in Bree Street is another source of inspiration. Phillip admits to being sucked in by the energy of the city centre: ‘We used to have premises in The Foundry in Green Point but we soon outgrew that space and wanted to be where the action was in the centre of town. The building has a lot of character and is probably one of the oldest along Bree Street. We haven’t done any renovations to it as we love it the way it is; the floorboards in some cases are 450mm wide and the walls 500mm wide.’ When he’s not at work, strumming on one of his guitars is Phillip’s definition of ‘me-time’ and the music lover admits to easily playing for four hours without knowing it… proving that, despite having an active five-year-old son, another on the way and a busy social life, Phillip Wyatt has work and life in pitch-perfect key.
Inhouse Brand Architects has garnered a host of distinguished accolades.
• The 2013 Loeries saw IBA, in collaboration with Jupiter Drawing Room, win two silvers and one gold for its work on Windhoek Lager’s branded environments.
• The same project won a prestigious silver Cannes Lion.
• At the recent 2013 Eat Out Awards, three of the award-winning restaurants – Burrata, Carne and Test Kitchen – were all designed by IBA.
• And the Orphanage Cocktail Emporium in Bree Street, one of Cape Town’s well-known bars that made it onto Condé Nast Traveller’s most recent ‘Best New Bars In 20 Cities’ list, was also designed by IBA.
Lunch on Phil
‘We often enjoy a tapas lunch up the road at La Parada or a glass of wine and snacks at Publik Wine Bar around the corner. If we need something more substantial we head to Carne or 95 Keerom Street, both of which we designed and are great informal spaces to meet over lunch. Café Dijon, also done by us, is another favourite,’ says Phillip Wyatt.
Inhouse Brand Architects: 021 488 2400, 89 Bree Street, Cape Town, inhouse.ws
Carne: 70 Keerom Street: 021 424 3460, carne-sa.com
La Parada: 107 Bree Street, 021 426 0330
Publik Wine Bar: 81 Church Street
95 Keerom Street: 021 422 0765, 95keerom.com
Café Dijon: 15 Napier Street, Green Point, 021 418 3910, cafedijon.co.za
Words: Genevieve Fisher
Production: Lauren Shantall
Photographs: David Ross