In Her Element


By Leigh Herringer

Lezanne Viviers’ mid-century home that she shares with her husband is nestled high up amongst the trees of a rocky ridge in Westcliff. An iconic example of late modernist architecture intertwined with the couple’s personal narrative, Lotus House, as it’s named, has been featured in various international magazines. InArchitectural Digest, it was described as having “…all the trademarks of the kind of regionalism that was developing in Johannesburg in the’60s, with influences from the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright and even hints of Japanese and Brazilian modernism”.

The couple moved in five years ago, not long after her husband, who is passionate about property, brought Lezanne to see the space. At the time, it belonged to an Italian family who had lived therefor 20 years and downscaled in their retirement. The owners, however, were so attached to the house that it took 10 years for them to let it go. “At the time, the house was empty and quite neutral,” says Lezanne as we chat on an unseasonably hot autumn morning. “But whenI saw the view, I knew we were in trouble.”

The house was originally built in 1960 over three cantilevered levels and overlooks Joburg’s unique man-made forest, with panoramic views that extend from the Melville Koppies to the Magaliesberg. “I love the open space and coming home to our sanctuary of solitude and quietness– it’s definitely where I recover and recharge,” the designer says. Along with the structural bones of the house, the original floor-to-ceiling windows and doors are still in place, and there is an airy indoor-outdoor flow throughout the home with abundant natural light and hints of the view’s lush greenery from almost every sightline. It’s no wonder that the balcony has often become a catwalk and rooms have morphed into vibrant galleries filled with creative and like-minded friends and lovers of the arts.

They refer to themselves as mere custodians of the property, and are set on preserving their home’s historical significance. Over time, they have thoughtfully added their own dimensions to the interiors, juxtaposing bold colour with layers of textiles, wood, art, and vintage treasures in ways that are playful yet authentic – and never overwhelming.

“I’m a specialised hoarder and have a personal way of putting things together, and I move them around all the time,”says Lezanne, as I note her collections of African artefacts and gemstones, a groovy vinyl station, and an Irma Stern, which hangs near their little boy’s enchanting artworks. “A little bit of odd is exciting and relatable. It’s the same as fashion – I love the touch of the hand and the human behind the item – it’s what makes things feel real.

Viviers Studio’s AW24 range, In ourElement(AL), was presented at MilanFashion Week earlier this year, and says Lezanne, was mostly inspired by natural elements in her home. She explains how these elements are almost imprinted and automated into her subconscious, yet are spontaneous and accumulate like layers of thoughts and ideas. “The collection is a celebration of the raw beauty of nature through our earthy, textured palettes, metallics, and crystal-like shades of shimmery minerals,” she affirms.

In contrast to the steep and narrow driveway that leads one up to the entrance of Lotus House, shady pathways and stone walkways wind their way down to the pool, which has been built into the rocks and resembles a natural pond. It’s a piece of paradise for the family who swim on most summer evenings. Lezanne appointed her friend and landscape artist, James Barry Slabbert, to create a sense of order and balance in the garden she had coined a “jungle space”. To do this, flower beds were given a structured circular edging surrounded by anthracite, and dahlias bloom playfully between the cacti and colourful roses. It’s another lesson in the sublime art of juxtaposition that adds to the energetic charm and soul of this extraordinary home.


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