12 Rooms and a Shongololo

Woodstock is happening. From food to fashion to design, it’s hot. I happily ambled along to Albert Road yesterday morning, all a-hustle and a-bustle with Friday morning business. The sun was out and there was a promising hint of spring amongst the hoots of taxis and sounds of people.

I visited the 12 Rooms Exhibition with Leon at CCXIX, the perfect place for a newbie design fan like me. Cape Town is, after all, the Design Capital for 2014. The 12 Rooms Exhibition is a smorgasbord of fantastic furniture, beautiful art, delicious fabrics and quirky designs.

Fine furniture producers Leon at CCXIX transformed their showroom by asking twelve of South Africa’s leading designers to each design a room. Well, thirteen, actually – Haldane Martin’s ‘Secret’ room, unveiled to reveal his new licencing agreement with Leon at CCXIX, is an added treat.

We were greeted at the door by the lovely Erik Snyman, production manager, who showed us around and chatted with us about the exhibition over a delicious cappuccino. Leon at CCXIX has a restaurant, too, with a delicious-looking Italian menu. Note to self: must go back for risotto.

The exhibition itself is wonderful and deserves more than one visit. Each designer has designed a living space – from bedrooms to lounges to winter spas and conservatories – and each one deserves a good, long, look. Each time I looked around I saw something new.

Erik’s comment on Francois du Plessis’ rich, dark lounge was perfect. “It makes me want to lounge on the sofa, smoking a Cuban cigar, even though I don’t smoke cigars.” Me too.

In Kyle Roux’s room, which reminded me of a stage, I fell simultaneously in love with Zimbabwean artist David Filer’s pelican sketches, and the beautifully framed mirrors that mirrored them. Then there was the gorgeous, huge, table in Sumari Krige’s open plan living area… the perfect piece for sitting around, en famille, enjoying long, lazy Sunday roasts. If someone could just buy me a house with a big enough dining room, I’d be ever-so-grateful!

While I wasn’t that keen on the art in Karen Robert’s room (these things are so subjective, aren’t they?), I loved the lightness and blue of the room and her stripy ribbon light shades are just fantastic. The colourfulness of Michelle Throssell’s room appealed, too. Fun and funky, the bright geometric wallpaper on one side faces off with beautiful African baskets on the other.

I could go on and on, but you really need to see it yourselves. Birds seem to be trending (look at me, using ‘trending’ in a sentence!), with a couple of fabulous taxidermy specimens, which I love. Don’t miss the SOBEIT-designed floor in Salome Gunter’s room. It’s fantastic.

We left to go and explore Woodstock a little more, my head filled with gorgeous things. If I’d had my way, though, Haldane Martin’s songolo sofa would’ve crept down the stairs and followed us home down Albert Road to settle itself happily in my lounge. Maybe next time.

*An edited version of this piece was published at What’s On In Cape Town.

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