Tessa van Schaik’s unique take on local architecture has landed her projects in prestigious design magazines. The UCT graduate heads an architectural 
practice in Plettenberg Bay.

Tessa van Schaik
Image: Vanessa Bruwer Tessa van Schaik

The one indulgence you would never forgo? I hope our rand doesn’t let me down and my concern about carbon emissions doesn’t overwhelm me but hopefully I will never have to forgo air tickets to magnificent places.

The grooming staples you’re never without are… A wide-toothed comb for my feeble, fine hair, and my dark eyebrow colour and shaping kit by Benefit, San Francisco.

Your all-time favourite gadget? My Victorinox Swiss Army knife, given to me by my fabulous sister before I left to backpack through South America, 23 years ago.  

The single object you would never part with? A piece of design brilliance: a Feathercraft sea-kayak, made in Canada, but based on the original German Folbot. It has a framework of titanium and Kevlar, which fits together like a puzzle, and a skin of thin rubber and waterproof fabric. It packs down into two large duffel bags, and has allowed me to explore some extraordinary places in the world.

Your favourite drink? Good Champagne. For a local flavour,  I love Steenberg Brut Pinot Noir.

The restaurant you frequent most often? Emily Moon’s pizza bar in Plett, named Simon’s Bar.

Your personal style signifier? The perfect white shirt.

The last thing you bought and loved? A beautiful painting by Glynis Compton.

Your favourite timepiece and why? An old wooden wall clock, handed down through my family. I remember it being in my grandfather’s house when I was a little girl.

An unforgettable place you’ve travelled to in the past year? The Amalfi coast, Italy. I loved the food, my early-morning runs through the olive and lemon groves and, of course, the company. 

The book on your bedside table? Oh hell, which one? I have an ongoing pile. To inspire my work: Vitamin Green (Phaidon) and Prefabulous World (by Sheri Koones); to feed my alter-ego: On the Front Line – The Collected Journalism of Marie Colvin; and to satisfy my passion for music and memoirs: Just Kids by Patti Smith.

The last meal that truly impressed you? Dinner at the new La Colombe, Silvermist Estate, Cape Town.

The last music you downloaded? I don’t. My husband still buys CDs via Amazon on a regular basis.

The thing you are eyeing next? An aeroplane ticket to a snow-covered, mountainous destination.

The one thing you will always find in your fridge? A half-full bottle of wine. 

The best gift you’ve given recently? We designed a gorgeous stone farmhouse outside Lusaka for a dear friend.

And the best one you’ve received? The perfect all-together family holiday to Bali.

The place that inspires you and why? True wilderness: northern Namibia, northern Canada and the Okavango Delta.  

A recent special “find/discovery”? Candylwood, a conscious internet retail 
outlet that sells the best chocolate, candles and fragrances.

The last item you added to your wardrobe? Another perfect white shirt.

Favourite city and why? When you live in a small town, New York is mind-blowingly exciting.

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