Category Archives: Opinions
By Rose McClement
Okay – who of you reading this right now can recall the movie Love Story from way back in 1970? (Oh my word, I feel “timeless” just recalling it. Timeless in this case being a kind word for “old”). It starred Ali McGraw and handsome Ryan O’Neill and was the tearjerker of the decade. At the time, it was meant to be the love story to top all love stories! Just to give you an indication of how bad-ass sad this move was, I was warned beforehand to take my tissues with me to the movie house. But the love story I am about to share with you, actually tops the forgotten 70’s tearjerker. It’s real and authentic.
It was sometime back that I somehow connected with the Château de Gudanes. Exactly how that happened I can’t recall. As I cast my mind back now, I vaguely recall that one of my friends was following their blog and thought it might interest me from an interiors point of view.
Well, it sure did. I was intrigued by the Château and its owners from the first blog article I read and have followed their progress over the last few years. The newsletter updates aren’t that frequent, but when they drop into my inbox I can’t wait to catch up. With each passing newsletter, my intrigue and fascination is deepened, as is my desire to eventually visit this Beauty in French Countryside.
Built in the mid 1700’s, Château de Gudanes, a timeless and forgotten Stately Home in the French Country side, despite being sorely neglected, cast aside, pretty much abandoned and forgotten with the passing of time, still stands proudly in the south of France in the small village of Château-Verdun. It stands on the foothills of lush fertile French country surrounded by mountains and nearby French country villages. In the midst of it neglected state, the Château managed to hold its head up high enough to catch the attention of Australian couple, who were looking to set themselves up in that neck of the woods. What more could Craig and Karina Waters with a very big vision want for? If I recall, it was to create a new country home for their family while sharing it with as a guesthouse with all who wished to do so. The Château it seems called their name. They in their turn hearkened it calls, despite the numerous restoration challenges that they must have known would face them. Were it me, I might have run for the hills! It was to be a mammoth task, something that could only be supported within the context of a brave and determined vision.
Want to hear my fantasy around the call of the Château to its new owners? Here goes – in my mind’s eye they saw its outward, regal, stately and romantic appeal at first – standing there wooing them to its heart. Like any other romantic call, the outward appearance draws one in. Then once inside – they were faced with the harsh realities of the ravaging effects that neglect and “careless-ness” had on its once beautiful interior features! Did that put them off? By all accounts it didn’t. In fact I assume they admitted to the reality of it forgotten state, but looked beyond that to it hidden beauty, a beauty that they could unearth, unpack and once again restore. And that is why they committed to this long term relationship with the Château. What an experience of a lifetime, which they took hold of and made it their own.
That’s my take on their initial and early day encounters with the Château (only because I can’t find the account that I read years ago, which means I am left with the little recall I have). But it works for me. I don’t really want to spoil my own romantic notion of their encounter by spending time trawling their website for the facts. I mean, this is the month of LUV, not facts!
Because ultimately, that is really what Love is all about. We are drawn to each other, attracted to each other by some magical yet inexplicable force (which we can explain if we want to be spoilsports). Then when we step in closer to each other, we are faced with certain realities of neglect and careless-ness. But despite that – we stay with each other, work with each other and then reap the rewards. That’s Love for me. It’s not always romantic, but it’s true.
Now, looking at this latest video that has been produced, something so romantic has once again been given back to the Château by those brave, tenacious, creative, determined and love filled owners, who have loved the Château despite the odds often being stacked against them. Plus they have allowed others to show love to its restoration as well, by including many people into the volunteer work force. It’s a long story indeed and one that you are more than welcome to dip into by jumping over to their website, to trawl through their amazing recorded stories.
I want to salute the owners Craig and Karina Waters for their big vision, determined courage, steadfastness and for all they have achieved thus far. I am equally determined to visit the Château in the not too distant future as a fulfilment of my dream. Either to assist in the restoration for a while as a volunteer or as a guest in their home. I dream of waking up in one of those boudoirs that pulsate with that timeless authenticity that has been restored with so much fastidious love and care. To breath in the fresh country air and to explore the depth of the house as well. But mostly to pop my laptop onto the French antique desk that stands in front of the window with a mountain view that is to die for – to write. TOTAL BLISS!
Quick note of indemnity – this is a longer than usual read. Wanna run over to the kettle to make a cuppa quickly? Otherwise – here we go.
The 2016 Decorex Cape Town Expo happened in the beginning of May. To be honest, I have been dragging my feet since then to write my report back on it. However, a survey that I have just completed with feedback to the organizers of the Expo has jerked me out of my state of numbness. I wanted to take my time in this post, allowing what I experienced at the Expo to integrate properly so that I could write this article from a place of sincerity. I don’t really want to give negative feedback or get into that hyper judgemental and critical space. What would that benefit anyone?
So, very briefly, Marica and I were not wildly enthusiastic about attending the Decorex Expo. I guess our experience of it over the past 2 years is what was at the heart of this reluctance. We were however, offered the opportunity to attend as members of the Trade, and I felt we should go have a look-see.
Expectations versus Reality:
A few realisations have subsequently dawned on me. There is no doubt in my mind, that when you go to the exhibition under such a cloud of negative expectation, that is exactly what you get. During the time we walked the Expo, my disappointment just took on larger proportions, so much so that I lost sight of some of the “loveliness” that was actually happening around me. It is all wrapped up in a neat little parcel labelled ‘Expectations & Desires”…
Decorex is NOT Design Indaba:
Expectation/Desire Number 1: Expecting Decorex to be comparable to Design Indaba Expo (sadly that expo died an untimely death in my view). This particular Decorex Expo made it quite apparent to me, that they were two different animals. Decorex seems to have morphed into more of a Lifestyle Expo, while Design Indaba was a very pure design-orientated expo. My earliest and past experiences of Decorex were that of being more interior design & decorating orientated.
Show Me Something New:
Number 2: The desire to see new trends on display, new products that we haven’t encountered before and fresh creative talent showing off their craft… all went unanswered.
Out-Of-The-Box Interiors, Please:
Number 3: A desire to see a greater variation of experienced creative talent and designers, revealing unique interiors – showing how it can be done.
There is more, but I will stop at this point.
Striding out of the CTICC under this cloud of disappointment, I somehow felt that it was my expectations that was the root of my disappointment rather than the Expo itself. I decided to rather turn this around into a more positive take away. Slowly I recounted those exhibition stands that did make an impression on me. Those that remain top of mind are:
Some Decorex 2016 WOW Factors:
Mr. Price Home: Wow, I think that I might well have awarded them for their display. They took the winter theme and ran with it. Included were many contemporary decorative elements, which were set out in such an inspiring, easy to read, replicable way. All very affordable at that. Let’s face it – Mr. P Home’s retail store layouts are anything but inspiring. Functional – yes, but inspiring – no! Guess that is why they took me totally by surprise.
Naturally, because I am a huge fan of colour and Plascon Spaces / Colour Forecast, I was enamoured by their stand. Nothing short of total eye pleasure and delight. They tell the story of trending colours effortlessly.
While on the matter of colour, the other striking colourful display was the 100% Design South Africa preview called Picture Africa at the 100% Textile pavilion. The vibrant African textile designs with its African Pop Culture flavour were stunning. That ticked the “new and fresh” box for me. I hope it gains huge traction so that the visual effects that South Africans designers can produce will spread far and wide.
The other big “wow factor” at the Expo was the incredibly well designed kitchen from The Kitchen Studio. The kitchen was unlike what I have encountered before (possibly, because we have not been into too many kitchen designs of late). Inspirational stuff indeed.
Milestone Kitchens was another in the kitchen genre that stood out. They manufacture compact kitchens, aptly named “Kitchen in a Cupboard“, for small studio spaces. I believe that this company has identified a growing niche market, since apartments are being built smaller and smaller. Plus the price tags were do-able, so you are sure to get a bang for your bucks. Milestone Kitchens even won the “Best Innovative Product” award for their Kitchen in a Cupboard at Cape Town Decorex 2016.
Of course, there were many other exhibitors, but somehow they just did not manage to stand out in the crowd. Ultimately, for me that is the defining factor that makes a difference. There are huge numbers of feet that go through the Expo. It is so crowded in there that sometimes even the well-known designers and producers get lost in the crowd.
Dorothy Van Der Riet was one such. I was so looking forward to seeing this well-known Jozi Interior Designer’s work. It was however too crowded and what I saw did not impress. I was expecting vibrant and unique from her. Maybe I would have been impressed had I been able to move in closer. On the other hand, that defeats the “MAKE A STATEMENT!” objective. FIRST IMPRESSIONS DO COUNT.
Decorex Has a Strong Commercial Vibe:
That said, there are some that stayed top of mind for the wrong reasons. Most of the Man Caves were completely uninspiring, lacked innovation and creative dynamics. It was too commercially driven me thinks. There was also a much bigger than normal art display, but largely it was a commercial for my taste. As a designer, it just does not inspire.
I believe that the public should be exposed to a far larger variety of decorated exhibition stands, less commercial stuff and more design stuff. What about Decorex reeling in some interior designers and decorators to present various contemporary interpretations of a variety of interior styles. Interpretations, which will leave the viewer feeling that the pages of the décor magazines are being experienced in real time.
This year saw the talented Mr. Adriaan Lochner doing just that by showcasing a beautiful blue and white interior scene of what I term “the Condé Nast Home Interior Style” – contemporary, yet timeless and classical. It is something he does almost effortlessly and so well. However, Decorex CT has seen that kind of interior before. I want more! I want different! I want edgy and unique.
There is a market out there is filled with a new generation of buyers and clients that needs to be catered for more vigorously. The money power is changing hands as we speak. The baton is being passed over to the 30 something’s. The exhibitions should be an answer to their interior needs.
Cape Town Needs a Trade-geared Design Show:
I feel that unless design and lifestyle exhibitions in Cape Town gets a bit more edgy, we are going to go stale, remain stuck in what is current, instead of being ahead of the game. We lack that edgy Jozi energy and going stale without even knowing it, happens in a blink of an eye for Cape Town. After all, we are known for being chilled – bit to chilled maybe. We have HUGE design talent and amazingly forward-thinking creatives in Cape Town – there is no need for exhibition staleness to set in.
Other than the weak Homemakers Expo, Decorex is basically all that we have left in C.T. in terms of design and lifestyle exhibitions. We have to remember that expos act as a vibrant point of reference to the buying public. We need less same ole, same ole, and more edgy, vibey and entertaining interiors scenes.
So, by all accounts, it seems that I will have to take myself off to Jozi in order to experience something that may come closer to my expectations and desires. I am thinking of doing Inspire Trade Show, as well as Rooms on View.
Images via Decorex Facebook Page.