African Artisans are Key to the Essence of Lolebezi, Fox Browne Creative’s Latest Luxury Safari Project in Zambia
Fox Browne Creative tapped small businesses and artisans to create a bespoke interior design that provide guests with an authentic connection to the Zambian culture, traditions and landscape
Set along the mighty Zambezi, the river that forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, Lolebezi combines simple modernist geometries with layers of sustainable, environmentally conscious design techniques to tread lightly on the earth. Operated by African Bush Camps (ABC), the lodge’s luxurious canvas and glass design by Fox Browne Creative in partnership with architect Jack Alexander, of Johannesburg plays out through eight River Suites, each with privately shaded outdoor sala and river-view infinity pool, as well as public spaces including a dining pavilion, bar, and guest sitting area nestled at the edge of a Winterthorn forest, where the river gently forks to form an inlet known as the ‘Discovery Channel’.
The multi-disciplinary design studio sourced materials locally whenever possible, the better to support small businesses in Zambia and South Africa, enlisting artisans to create bespoke installations, and provide guests with an authentic connection to the culture, traditions, and landscape around them.
Prominent among producers contracted by the design firm is Tribal Textiles a grass-roots art collective in Mfue, Zambia, that works with local artisans. Contributions from Tribal Textiles include reed curtains that hang in the guest area, a hand-made woven circular wheel featured in the dining room and sitting room, and basket ware used to serve tapas lunches to guests who have worked up an appetite exploring the bush with African Bush Camp guides. Tribal Textiles’ work with Fox Browne Creative through the years has been rewarding: The company recently expanded its team to 36 artisans.
Additional design features created locally or across Africa include:
For banquet seating in the sitting area and dining room, Fox Browne Creative tapped a Cape Town-based artisan, who drew inspiration from the prominent weaving traditions of Zambia and the unending rise and fall of the Zambezi River.
A large raw-edged dining table of Acacia camelthorn wood with copper legs in the dining room was custom-made by a South African wood work specialist.
The mosquito net pelmet – or “halo” – found in guest suites was custom made for Fox Browne using wooden discs, imfabinga beads, and copper by South African based High Thorn Chandeliers.
Printed throws were inspired by acacia seedpods that dropped from the forest canopy during Fox Browne Creative’s initial visit to the Lodge site. Responding to a request from the loge’s owner, the firm took samples back to its studio and consulted with South African design company Evolution Product to create bed throws and large screen artworks. High-res scans of pressed plant specimens were provided by an herbarium and enhanced with texture and “Lolebezi green,” and artworks were printed with non-toxic pigment onto locally milled linen.
Boldly carved doors were custom-made in South Africa, with design referencing carved doors with abstract motifs used by Tonga people of the Zambezi Valley on entrances to their houses. Fox Browne Creative added the crocodiles for fun.
Ceramicist Voster and Bray in Cape Town created most of the tableware used in the dining room, while copper seedpod napkin rings and woven copper placemats were fashioned by Cape Town-based Ebony Moon.
Noted Debra Fox, founder and co-owner of Fox Browne Creative: “It was so important for us to create a real sense of place that reflects the destination and the experience of Lolebezi. The lodge’s owners were adamant about authenticity, and we well connected with local artisans to meet their demands. In a hospitality world overrun with bland, Pinterest interiors, the design touches of the Lodge are sure to open guests’ eyes to the beauty and cultures of Zambia.”
“Lolebezi is a fresh take on luxury canvas and glass design, effortlessly combining sophistication and sustainability with every detail considered for guest comfort and the promotion of a dramatic, authentic connection with the mighty Zambezi River and the African landscape,” notes Chris Browne, co-owner of Fox Browne Creative.
Adds Jack Alexander, lead architect: “The design of Lolebezi balances traditional bush-lodge materials such as grass thatch, reeds, canvas, and hardwood with a sophisticated structural frame of steel and glass, creating eight luxurious river cabins designed to immerse guests in an extraordinary natural environment.”
For more information on Lolebezi, please visit Lolebezioperated by African Bush Camps or reach out to Andrea Schnoor Communications for a detailed fact sheet.