In a world in which we are so connected by smart devices and The Internet of Things, there’s a deep human yearning (for most of us at least) to escape it all, nestle back into nature, and inhale a panoramic view or some silence. It’s only when we breathe it in, do we realise how much we missed it.
Part of that experience is when we experience someone or something authentic or natural. I’m not just talking about the half dome of stars at night which South Africa hosts so well, nor the spectrum blue sky that hovers above us, not even the undulating shadows of the hills, valleys and mountains, I’m talking about our people – the locals, their individuality and courage, and dare I say it, their madness. Unless they’re the sane ones, of course?
On arrival at the Fynbos Pods, there’s a dawning sense of anticipation, the gravel track winds into the mountain through a tree-lined meander, and arrives, quite literally, upon a ‘Pod’.
Perched on prime land overlooking the Kleinmond Mountains, The Pecan Pod (one of three to launch in 2019) stands on short stilts, proud in their surroundings. Beautifully curved, their modernity would be a jolt to their environment if made of any of any other material, but the rustic stained cladding that wraps around the pods merge them into the hillside.
Designer, founder, builder and owner, Rudi arrives with a bottle of Beaumont Sauvignon Blanc from the local farm – he is unassuming and understated. An air of lekker.
He takes us on a journey that takes him back once he had completed university in which he built his first log cabin, the original stepping stone that created the neighbouring Kolkol Mountain Lodge – an experience, he explains, “everyone should try”. Over the following 15 years, he has built 9 other cabins, until the farm next door came up for sale. With a new concept already in mind, and not wishing any landowner to obscure the view and aesthetic of his original opus, he snapped it up. That was a year ago.
In the ensuing twelve months, he set to work. A magnificent feat of structural engineering, the Pods hover off the ground, a smooth and seamless rectangular cocoon, containing a flow of interconnected kitchen lounge, bedroom and bathroom, all gazing out at the landscape. The 20m deck delivers a panoramic periscope of undulating hills upon hills, to the mountains in the background, layers of green stacking up against each other. At one end, stone braai, an obvious essential for a South African experience, and at the other the outdoor lounge, replete with a wooden shitter that lets light and another landscape flood in. The hero of the hour is, without doubt, the wood-fired tub, another invention of Rudi’s, revealing the thread of innovation that weaves throughout the stay. Intermittently we slink in and out, punctuating our stay, and drawing our hurried city rhythm to a slow and idle hum.
Inside, Karen and Rudi combine their talents – dovetailing between his organic craftsmanship and her luxurious and intelligent finishing touches – the finest soft furnishings and home accessories. There’s kitchen table shaped from a vast wooden trunk, or his arching copper standing lamp, in the bedroom you’ll find a handmade bed (incredibly comfortable) and bedside stumps, while the bathroom basin and stand are a Rudi Innovation too. Karen brings in bean bags, yellow armchair, generous throws, candles, and striking floral and botanical cushions.
But The Fynbos Pods are more than individual moments of brilliance, they’re like a string of fairy lights on a tree, a necessity to work together and delivering romance and harmony. Revolving around a central fireplace that faces both lounge on one side and bedroom on the other, warmth pervades the entire space as the fire crackles, copper glows, the day fades into evening. A retro Marshall sound system allows the iPhone to set the tone.
They’ve set such a scene that the responsibility lies on you to uphold the standards – no space here for a culinary disaster. Choose wisely – outdoor braai, indoor pizza oven or play it safe in the well-equipped Metro-tiled kitchen.
If you’ve ever watched George Clarkes’ Amazing Spaces on DTSV’s BBC Channel, the consistent thread focuses on the quiet authenticity of craftsmen lost in a world of their own innovation, undeterred by obstacles and bringing magic into the most unlikely of places. Rudi and his Pods would fit right in.