In interiors I take an embodied and hands on approach that focuses on sensual experience. Sight, sound, taste, touch, smell. In the choice of materials, textures, warm, cold, smooth, rough. Combining architecture and interior design allows me to express my love for detail and of styling.
As an architect, my focus is on the client and the context – in the public realm, in community development and in homes. Guided by the available resources, by communication and inspiration, my skills shape a project’s design. I am interested in how things morph or unexpectedly relate to each other in their forms, lines, functions and colours.
As an urbanist, I work at the neighbourhood scale, making the invisible visible. Mapping relationships between people, between people and a place, and between an origin and a destination enhances my understanding of a context. It lays the foundation for insight and for potential action.
FROM MY RÉSUMÉ
Hello! I’m Astrid von Brucken, an accomplished urbanist, architect, project manager and interior designer. I love task variety, and have worked on a wide variety of high-profile projects in the private and public sectors. I have done urban research and strategy work, and have taught and tutored architecture and urbanism at the University of Cape Town.
I hold a Masters of Philosophy in Architecture and Planning (UCT) (2003), a Bachelor of Architecture (1995 with distinction in design) and a Bachelor of Architectural Studies (1992) from UCT’s School of Architecture and Planning, as well as a National Advanced Diploma in Interior Design.
I’m a certified Project Manager (Stellenbosch Business School) and hold a Diploma in Land Management and Informal Settlement Regularization at Erasmus University, Rotterdam (2011) (with distinction).
I’m a Lifeline counsellor and hold certification in community mediation and conflict resolution (Centre for Conflict Resolution) as well as policy writing, implementation and evaluation (Stellenbosch Business School).
Since 1997, I have taught at UCT’s School of Architecture and Planning and the Design Time School of Interior Design in Observatory.
I’ve served as a Principal Professional Officer at the City of Cape Town on the Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading Programme. I have worked on precinct frameworks, spatial planning, urban development zones and social housing sites, technical documentation, site supervision, new houses, alterations and additions, projects with landscape designers on large-scale proposals.
I’ve worked on retail developments in Berlin, landscape development in the V&A Waterfront, and low-cost housing, schools and community centres in Namibia.
In 2004, I was part of the award-winning design team to the International Union of Architects or Union Internationale des Architectes (UIA) Celebrating Cities Competition Call.
I create etching prints, make porcelain pottery, paint and dance.
SOME THOUGHTS ON DESIGN
I live and work mostly in Cape Town. My primary task and motivation is to create beautiful spaces with clients.
Each of us inhabit and access our worlds and built environments in unique ways. Our lives have irreducibly different daily rhythms. My practice has taken me from working with communities on the Cape Flats, to working on interior architecture and styling projects with wealthy clients, to treasure hunting for art, furniture and accessories.
Most of us require a refuge from our urban environment in which to replenish and to retreat. So, I seek to determine the extent of refuge each of my clients require. My relationship with every client is a process of unearthing their dispositions and creating a home or workplace that reflects their personality. Clients may relate to an indoor jungle or greenhouse, or a space that reflects the aesthetic of a sparse monastery. Someone who has immigrated may wish to display objects from their homeland. A person with little or no desire to disclose their personality to others, for whatever reason (for instance, professionalism), would prefer a space in which their personality mostly remains hidden. I determine among others a client’s relationship to climate, and whether they prefer the sun casting soft light through a sheer curtain-fronted window, or in crisp shards through a timber shutter.
Hospitality interiors, such as the Airbnb apartments in my portfolio, tend to be styled and staged. Other interiors are workspaces. I tend to want to create spaces that are warm and friendly and can be comfortably occupied. The Airbnb apartments I have (co)created on are welcoming plant-filled havens that, for a while, become home away from home. They are more personal than a hotel, yet must be suited to a range of tastes. These apartments offer guests the accessories and objects a home usually offers. I like a striking, colourful and lush homely aesthetic that calls to guests who choose from hundreds of listings. They draw on a mid-century modern design ethic and are filled with retro furniture. This makes them accessible, playful and contemporary. For styling, whether I buy from a flea market or an upmarket designer shop, the value I bring includes the assembly of things, disguises their origin; their combination brings something new to a room.
My home has colourful corners – I often repaint the walls. I like bringing nature into my home and derive pleasure from clustering multiple media pieces. New relationships are formed in juxtaposition. My aesthetic lies in relationships; as ideas and things relating to each other unexpectedly. The art I like is abstract, yet with recognisable shapes and forms. It’s about fields of colour, light and shadow. For a home inhabited by a client, my approach is more personal. Colour ranges from bold to subtle – if soft, restrained and neutral expression suits them. Depending on the context, I aim for a nurturing and stimulating field of colours, shapes, textures with intentional focus on the quality of natural light. I understand how people might occupy space in relation to the surfaces, objects, form and layout, paying attention to how they experience space meeting function, inside meeting outside, and old meeting new.
Design is about how a teacup sits in the hand, perfectly designed, as an object that offers a welcoming presence. When we enter the presence of something beautiful, it greets us and lifts us away from a neutral background, as though it were designed to fit our perception. I am energised by this idea of beauty being a form of welcome and that
“The measure of your life is the amount of beauty and happiness of which you are aware.” Agnes Martin
Feel free to contact me about work you need assistance with. The process is very enriching, and the results are likely to exceed your expectations and wildest dreams.