Balinese Dream, Curacao
Beguilingly situated within Curacao's exclusive Jan Sofat enclave, Balinese Dream eloquently embodies a perfect equipoise between inner life and the outside world.
Words by Scott Rose. Photography by Paul Barbera.
A certain cosmic inevitability surrounded the birth of the architectural lovechild that is Balinese Dream. With its heartening views across sparkling waters to the striking Tafelberg Mountain, the hillside location positively sang to owners Roderick and Bianca Rienhart. Longtime afiçionados of Eric Kuster’s interior design artistry, they knew they had to engage the much-in-demand international star for their dream home in Jan Sofat – the Beverly Hills of Curaçao. Little did they suspect that the collaboration would blossom. The finished dwelling, a haven of tranquillity, takes brilliant advantage of the temperate, sun-kissed clime to translate Balinese-derived lifestyle fantasies into a captivating Caribbean reality.
“Our vision for this villa,” Bianca remarks, “evolved from three core elements: Asian-inflected design, naturally beautiful woods and stones, and the creation of a palpable sense of openness. We wanted for there to be flow, for the boundaries between indoors and outdoors to appear as though deconstructed; that’s why the house can be opened completely from left to right with the use of sliding, louvered teak barrier doors, and why the pool flows to within the perimeter line of the house.” To translate the dream into reality, they hired architect Michael Durgaram, an island native with expert knowledge of local building materials and conditions, to draw up plans.
Oriented along a north-south axis and built into the side of a hill, the villa’s discrete roadside entrance relates to the project’s outward-stretching bayside interior, as might a tightly coiled bud to a glorious tropical bloom. “The villa was designed to maximise the breathtaking views,” Durgaram explains. “On a fine day, you can see clear across to the coast of South America.” Mindful of creating proportions that would remain harmonious with the environs, and not wanting the finished structure to overwhelm the grounds, Durgaram split the roofline, placing the two component towers astride the centreline entryway and pool. His wellconsidered placement of the windows, atop each inclined tower ceiling, allows for plenty of natural light without excessive heat. In another stroke of genius, Durgaram reveals that he “embedded the semi-subterranean level sleeping quarters into the hill to provide for natural cooling.”
“Openness, personal freedom, room to breathe; these are hallmarks of my Metropolitan Luxury style,” says Kuster.
“One practical advantage of developing this class of design concept on Curaçao,” says Kuster, “is that the climate allows you always to be physically at ease within the permeable boundary between inside and outside living.”
Well-known for designing textiles and furnishings for his projects, Kuster created a palette of darker colours and textured fabrics to accommodate the villa’s indoor-outdoor essence. “I did have to choose colours prudently,” he remarks. “On the one hand, the structure steadily benefits from sea breezes, but on the other hand, there is a certain amount of dust and humidity. That’s why we went mainly for darker colours and for textured fabrics rather than whites and silks.” Bianca adds, “The embracing roominess of Eric’s couches, as well as his inventiveness in establishing meaningful contrasts between glossy finishes and earthy materials in precisely the right shades, makes our house a haven of warmth and comfort.”
Kuster reveals that the couple’s prior experience working on the design of a Caribbean property left them insightful collaborators. Indeed, Bianca is now Kuster’s representative in Curaçao, and the head of her own Liv-Exclusive design company. Bianca for her part praises Kuster’s guiding hand in bringing their dream to fruition.
While the core idea of centring the open-living dwelling on an infinityedge pool was suggested to the couple by a Samsara villa, the reality of a pool within the heart of the house has proved advantageous in unforeseen ways. “We love being in the kitchen area,” says Bianca. “From inside it, I can see the kids swimming while I’m preparing lunch or dinner, which truly is a pleasure.” The kitchen is placed atop a podium, with the one side functioning, in effect, as a bar, which the couple finds most convenient when entertaining guests.
Echoed visually throughout is the pool’s rectangular shape. Oblong floor inserts, filled with Zen garden stones, enhance the overall soothing sense of balance; support columns of naturally textured quartzite rise in angular union; above the rectangular dining table hangs a rectangular luminescent shade. A Buddha bust at the head of the infinity pool sets a tone of serenity that permeates the home. “Several Buddhas throughout the house are gifts from family members who live far, far away, so we especially treasure them,” says Bianca.
In breathing a cosmopolitan air, Balinese Dream is simultaneously characteristic of both Curaçao and Eric Kuster’s Metropolitan Luxury style. As the designer says, “Between the sophisticated interior and one-of-a-kind layout, the home combines aspects of international loft style with more expansive features unique to its incomparable Caribbean setting.” With its distinctive architecture, inviting interior and touches of tranquillity, Balinese Dream truly is the perfect sanctuary of ultimate calm.
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