Homage to African Interior Design
Flame Studios, a new recording studio that opened earlier this year, is located inside an old historical prison on Johannesburg’s infamous Constitution Hill. Tracy Lynch was the creative brains behind the studio’s African interior design and the help from the Nando’s design program. Lynch has transformed the space into more than just a studio. It is now a parade of vibrant South African art and architecture steeped in historical significance.
Clever Use of Color & Patterns
Tracy Lynch’s careful selection of bold colors is the first thing we notice when entering the studio. Splashes of blue, red, and green join with monochromatic elements to create a striking contrast. Lynch uses a different color in each room, which compartmentalizes the space into distinctive sections while still having cohesiveness. The modern take on the distinctively African tribal patterns flaunts the heritage of the country. Together, the geometric patterns complimented by the vibrant tones create a wonderful multi-layered aesthetic which makes the space feel alive and energetic.
One of the most striking patterns is by Renaissance Design and called “The Frequency Pattern.” The design team has taken inspiration from conventional African prints and the soundwaves and vibrations of music. The result is a unique pattern of lines, circles, and geometric shapes. We love that the print reflects both the intended use of the space and the country’s heritage in which it lies. It is a beautiful playful, and modern twist on traditional African interior design.
Collaborative Effort from Local Designers
The furniture paired with the vibrant palette also showcases the best of South Africa’s creators and designers. Lynch works collaboratively with local designers for the project, and every piece within Flame Studios is made locally. Some of the well-established designers involved include TheUrbanative, Mash. T Design Studio, and Naturalis.
The intricacy of the pieces selected is arguably what gives the space an added edge. Casamento’s blue chair with contrasting yellow stitching adds a color pop to an otherwise monochromatic room. Naturalis has designed vintage-style chairs which take on the same geometric print and bold splashes of color found in the rest of the space. And one of our favorite pieces, a large circular orange rug by Mbele, is reminiscent of the hot African sun. The rounded shape adds softness to the angular edges and prints while complimenting the circular light fixtures hanging from above. These fixtures are also something to marvel at—up-and-coming designer Thabisa Mjo of Mash. T Design Studio has used intricate beading in vibrant colors to turn the pendants into a focal point. Together, the combination of pieces is a true celebration of African interior design and creative talent.
From Oppression to Liberation
The architecture of the building was also paramount in Lynch’s design process. Constitution Hill, where Flame Studios lies, has deep roots in the country’s turbulent past. Over the course of its 100-year history, thousands of South Africans were imprisoned at the site, including many world-renowned figures. Some of the most prominent names include Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Fatima Meer. Yet, South Africans from all walks of life were held captive within the walls, and the building has significance to all.
Lynch has genuinely honored the building’s past with her creative vision. Her work has not covered the venue’s history but highlighted its prominence in South Africa’s transition to democracy. It shows how far the country has come. Many of the old walls have patches that remain unaltered, with exposed brick and patina on show. The entryway into Flame Studios has also been left in its original state. These untouched areas within the architecture are a glaring contrast to the bold and contemporary African interior design.
Though previously a place of confinement and oppression, Flame Studios is now a self-expression, liberation, and creative place. The authentic South African aesthetic is a celebration of their culture and the artistic spirit of the people. Thanks to Lynch, Flame Studios is now a symbol for the transformative change and radical progress of South Africa.