South Africa’s Singita Ebony Safari Lodges Get a Luxe Makeover

Since the Singita Ebony Lodge opened in 1993, it has been a driving force in luxury lodge experiences. The iconic locale sits on 45,000 private acres of game reserve in the Sabi Sand area in South Africa, where lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, buffalos and 186 species of exotic birds roam free.

This year, Singita partnered with design team Cécile & Boyd to revamp the lodge. Boyd Ferguson, creative director of Cécile & Boyd, explains that the goal was to push the boundaries of the old Ebony “on all levels, from lifestyle, to operational, to sensorial.” Now, the suites have an open concept, where glass and canvas replace the once-solid walls—creating a tent-like aspect to the lodge and allowing light to flow in—while the undulating thatched roofs offer expansive views of the surrounding landscape. Bold tribal-patterned murals and sepia photography dot the walls, and a warm colour palette completes the elegant aesthetic.

Here, Ferguson discusses his design inspiration and why the Singita Ebony is revered as such an iconic locale.

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S/: What were your thoughts behind the changes you made to the lodges?

Boyd Ferguson: We looked at how the buildings sit in relation to each other and how we could create new flows and connections between them. We wanted to bring green areas into these gaps and spaces. We created new dining and living decks that were more intimate with the river below, removing old decks and foliage to celebrate the river.

The open walls look like they will allow guests to feel more immersed in the surrounding nature. Tell me about this concept.

Yes, taking out the traditional dividing walls doubled the space and provide light, air and view—not only of the natural surroundings but a view of the beautifully appointed spaces in the suites.

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The name Singita Ebony comes from the surrounding ebony trees. Was it important to you to incorporate elements of the surrounding environment into the interior’s design?

We are always very inspired by the nature that we find and these elements demand a place in the design language, by both informing choices of décor, colour palette and even on a more esoteric spiritual level. The grand, enormous, solid, beautiful African ebony trees are celebrated with the positioning of the new buildings—a testament to the place we are creating.

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What makes the Ebony such favoured spot for safari excursions?

The site is magnificent, and Ebony on all levels from the aesthetic to the experiential embraces the romance and history as well as the senses. It is a quintessential, traditional safari set in a modern context. This is a new look and experience for the luxury travel adventurer that is bold, polished, glamorous, refined and transforming.