California's Donum Estate gets Scandinavian design makeover by David Thulstrup

Donum Home, a new hospitality centre for the Donum Estate – a destination for wine and contemporary art – honours Scandinavian design and the Californian landscape in equal measure with a design by David Thulstrup

Donum estate's donum house by David thulstrup picture featuring dining area looking out
(Image credit: Eric Petschek)

California's Donum Estate – a 200 acre winery that is equally famed for its pinot noir as its enviable collection of contemporary art – unveiled a new, Scandinavian design for its hospitality centre this week, adding an architectural dimension to its allure. Created by Danish architect David Thulstrup, the new Donum Home, as the hospitality centre is called, occupies a 2017 building by Matt Hollis of San Francisco-based MH Architects. Situated in the south-west of the estate, surrounded by sculptures by Yayoi Kusama, Lynda Benglis and Marc Quinn, the structure already boasted soaring ceilings, generous skylights and spectacular views, which proved a perfect canvas for Thulstrup’s ‘honest, simple and not over-designed’ intervention.

To the existing two tasting rooms, Thulstrup added another three, each looking out to the rolling hills of southern Sonoma. Expansive windows, judicious use of light wood, and the pairing of midcentury design classics (such as Hans Wegner’s ‘Flag Halyard’ chair and Poul Henningsen’s ‘Artichoke’ lamp) with contemporary pieces (including Thulstrup’s own ‘Arv’ chair, originally designed for Noma) have resulted in a space that feels serene, refined and inviting. The aesthetic is distinctively Danish, in a nod to Thulstrup and Donum co-owner Allan Warburg’s shared heritage, but the architect has also paid homage to the Californian landscape in his use of local materials.

Donum estate's donum house by David thulstrup picture featuring tasting rooms with view out to the countryside

(Image credit: Eric Petschek)

A particular highlight is the vestibule in the extension: convex-shaped to create a sense of ceremony, and delineated with wooden framed rattan screens rather than solid walls in order to make the most out of Donum’s natural light. ‘Being Scandinavian, I naturally cherish light, and how it changes throughout the course of the day,’ explains the architect.

He continues, ‘the crossover between hospitality and creating a sense of home is further highlighted by custom furniture pieces that I have introduced: a stone table made from California granite, a wood table crafted from American walnut, as well as a bespoke vase by Danish glass artist Lene Bødker.’

And while Donum’s art collection stands out for its more monumental piece (for example, Subodh Gupta’s 10m-tall stainless steel banyan tree, with leaves made out of utensils; a giant steel spider by Louise Bourgeois; and Doug Aitken’s installation of 365 wind chimes within a eucalyptus grove), there are also impressive works within the Donum Home interior. Among them is the Tracey Emin painting Among 30 Years, a reclining nude evocatively rendered in black and white, newly acquired and displayed near her neon work Surrounded by You.

Donum estate's donum house by David thulstrup picture featuring one of the wine tasting areas

(Image credit: Eric Petschek)

Floating above the main space, under the slanted skylights is a new site-specific work by Jeppe Hein, comprising three mirrored balloons which gently sway in the wind to create subtle play on light. ‘I wanted to create a piece of art that picked up on the predominant colours of the winery,’ recalls the artist, who imagines the balloons being lost from a child’s hand. ‘Their mirrored surfaces reflect the surroundings and you at the same time, so you become a part of the artwork.’

Donum Home is a fitting addition to an already coveted destination for art lovers and oenophiles, and a sign of how the estate has flourished since Mei and Allen Warburg acquired it in 2010 years ago. ‘David has created a beautiful space and experience for our community,’ they say. ‘It’s a stunning space – an environment where one can enjoy our wines and collection while fully appreciating the land where we are so privileged to sit.’

Donum estate's donum house by David thulstrup picture featuring wine tasting room

(Image credit: Eric Petschek)

Donum estate's donum house by David thulstrup picture featuring wood cladding and warm interiors

(Image credit: Eric Petschek)

Donum estate's donum house by David thulstrup picture featuring bespoke furniture and warm woods

(Image credit: Eric Petschek)

Donum estate's donum house by David thulstrup picture featuring clean, modern tasting room interiors

(Image credit: Eric Petschek)


TF Chan is a former editor of Wallpaper* (2020-23), where he was responsible for the monthly print magazine, planning, commissioning, editing and writing long-lead content across all pillars. He also played a leading role in multi-channel editorial franchises, such as Wallpaper’s annual Design Awards, Guest Editor takeovers and Next Generation series. He aims to create world-class, visually-driven content while championing diversity, international representation and social impact. TF joined Wallpaper* as an intern in January 2013, and served as its commissioning editor from 2017-20, winning a 30 under 30 New Talent Award from the Professional Publishers’ Association. Born and raised in Hong Kong, he holds an undergraduate degree in history from Princeton University.

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