“…The creativity of the designers and architects never ceases to amaze me when staying at Tonga.” These were the words of an impressed former guest in a Trip Advisor review which touches on Tongabezi’s visual appeal. And that appeal is the stuff of African travel dreams.
A big part of the allure of Tongabezi Lodge, near the Victoria Falls is its beautiful design and African-influenced décor. It is this that gives the lodge its romantic and individualistic character. It’s a lodge oozing with personality.
Abi from Abi James Interiors is Tongabezi’s interior designer. She started her career working in textile design in Zambia and Malawi and from there made a natural transition to lodge design. When asked about her design ethos for Tongabezi she said,
“The owner Ben Parker is an avid collector and has a great eye for unusual finds. I love that all the pieces have been handpicked and chosen for their individual design. My aim for Tongabezi Lodge and Sindabezi Island is to display these eclectic pieces in a way that really shows off their personality within the lodge setting”.
Abi recently visited Tongabezi again with design on the mind. She shares with us the reasons for her visit and the visuals of all the busy-ness too.
“This last trip; I spent time working through the building designs/layouts of the Nut House, fine-tuning the changes we made to Sindabezi from my trip in January (the inside seated/dining boma area has been completing re-done), more changes to the Dog House lounge area, as well as small changes around the rooms and planning for the next stage of changes.”
Abi tells about her recent design work at Sindabezi:
“We had a Cemcrete specialist come and stay in January and also again recently in March who has been training the Tongabezi building team to create beautiful screed cement floors, built-in seating areas and work magic on paint effects. The team recently received certificates to show their training and are probably the only building team in Livingstone who are professionally trained to do so.
We started with Sindabezi in January and we have re-screed the floor, sofas and painted the walls with a lovely sandy texture.
I spent a bit of time styling the space on this recent trip – the emphasis was on a ‘laid-back island, rustic feel’ with products that are predominantly handmade and authentically sourced from around Africa. Included are handmade weaved wall arts on the wall, handmade basket lights, weaved tables and beautiful Indigo dyed tablemats from a Zimbabwe women’s group, handmade beaded lights, beaded wall mobiles and beaded cushions from Katundu Textiles. Hand printed fabrics from South Africa also make an appearance as well as kilim rugs and floor cushions for a more loung-y feel and lots more funky lanterns and lighting for a true island camp experience.”
What about the future design plans for Sindabezi? Abi says, “Next up is to build a bar under the deck from recycled palettes.” This is extremely exciting and we can’t wait to see that progress soon.
Abi speaks about her recent design work at some of the Tongabezi houses:
The Dog House:
“I was also styling the Dog House more on this trip – we have been going for a more sophisticated take, with emphasis on black and white and natural tones…with stunning photography and collector pieces that Ben has found and brought along the way on his travels.
The Garden House:
“Here is a quick snapshot of some new headboards we put into the Garden House kids room – handmade for us especially by Jackal & Hide in Zambia.”
“Then quite a bit of time was spent on working through the exciting new Nut House – this is where the Cemcrete trained team are really starting to show their magic with screed floors with handmade Moroccan tiles in them, built-in bed/seated areas. I took a couple of snapshots in the process.”
A stay at the charismatic Tongabezi offers guests an incredible safari experience, accommodation in unique abodes such as the Nut House and others mentioned by Abi. Guests find themselves immersed in fascinating and wonderful accommodation designed with imagination and a genuine love for Africa.