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May 2018

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Minimalism

Minimalism

Last year I wrote a story on the beautiful round house of Pretoria artist Margaret Nel. The annex featured here, was a later addition to the Le Corbusier inspired circular building. It is a calm, minimalist space, but with the same dose of character one finds in the main house.


The design of the space is undoubtedly minimalistic; an aesthetic I particularly enjoy. The look is very hard to achieve however and I always find it fascinating how something so simple, can be so difficult to create. The words by graphic designer Paul Rand: “Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated” rings particularly true here.


I find the annex to be a great exponent to the minimalist sentiments put forward by seminal designers like Mies van der Rohe and Dieter Rams. As strong advocates against visual pollution and excess, their efforts towards simplicity requires an appreciation for possessions based on their aesthetic quality and integrity.


Throughout the annex, every item is well considered and beautiful. Even the books are attractively displayed – colour coded and visually appealing. By having only a few items in the space, each piece makes a greater statement because it does not have to compete for the viewer’s attention.


There is a dialogue between the items within the space. The nature and character of the pieces make this visual conversation feel lighthearted and humorous, but in a clever, tongue-in-cheek kind of way. I love for instance, how Nel juxtaposes geometric elements like the large black and white checkered pillows and woven rug.


The home is timeless and contemporary at the same time. The blue tiled kitchen, mid century furniture, and notty pine ceilings, are all reminiscent of the 1960’s design. But, paired with the sharp geometry and grey and white walls, the space has a fresh and modern appearance that transcends specific time periods.


If you enjoyed the Annex, be sure to have a look around the main house. The design has a similarly curated aesthetic but with a dash of quirky humour that I am sure you’ll find just as enjoyable.

Story + Photos by Barbara Cilliers

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Elegant apartment in Berlin

Elegant apartment in Berlin

Possibly one of the best things about working as a photographer is that I get to see and experience so many different apartments in Berlin. Sometimes I come across a few homes that are particularly pretty and elegant.

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of photographing a wonderfully bright and spacious apartment near Boxhagener Platz in the vibrant neighbourhood of Friedrichshain in Berlin. The 137 m² square flat is available for rent on Spotahome – an online booking platform that offers thousands of furnished apartments around Berlin and 18 other cities across Europe.


The 2 bedroom, south-facing apartment is sunny and spacious, with an open plan living area and bright white kitchen. The decor is a mix of natural colours, with lots of wood and texture combined with reflective surfaces that open up the space, making it feel even brighter.


While the high ceilings add to the lofty feeling of the apartment, huge artworks on the walls create impact and drama – a nice pairing to the otherwise muted, monochrome colour pallet. The painted face-brick walls and jute rug also adds a rustic quality to the overall modern aesthetic.


I love the use of mirrors in the kitchen, which cleverly draws in the rest of the room, making the space feel even larger. Both bathrooms are also tiled with a slightly reflective mother of pearl mosaics from floor to ceiling. It has a slight pink to green hue, that goes very well with the crisp white and ultra sleek bathtub and basin.


For more information about the property and how to rent it, you can check out the detailed listing on Spotahome’s website. I also really liked this one, in the same vibrant area of Berlin. The bright open space and face-brick adds the same loft-like quality. If you’re looking to move to Berlin, you just may find your next apartment here.

Story + Photos by Barbara Cilliers

The Midlands Meander

The Midlands Meander

A visit to Rawdons Hotel in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa

Every time I’m in South Africa, I try to visit a piece of the country I’ve never seen before. The Midlands is a place I had heard of on many occasions and been wanting to visit for quite some time. The name evokes scenes of misty hills, dark green woodlands and gleaming lakes – landscapes you’re more likely to find in the northern parts of England. But as I soon discovered, this quaint piece of countryside in the heart of Natal, delivers on all of the expectations that is promised by that name.


On our recent road trip through KwaZulu-Natal, we decided to pass through the Midlands, staying at Nottingham Road – a small village tucked away between rolling green hillocks of Mooi Rivier and the foothills of the Drakensberg. The area, also known as the Midlands Meander, is less than a two hour drive from Durban, and very easy to reach by car.


During our visit we stayed at the Rawdons Country Hotel, a tranquil estate with an old English charm. Surrounded by wide green lawns and massive oak trees, the hotel offers a breathtaking view of two lakes and the pine woods beyond. All day long the lake is full of life, with waterhens hopping on the water and ibises fishing for food. At night, while the finches disappear inside nests among the reeds, the evening air becomes abuzz with an orchestra of toads.


Tucked away between the trees at the edge of the water is the Lake House. Perfect for larger groups or families, the house offers two spacious rooms that open onto a semi private lawn. The interior is an elegant mix of antiques and country-cottage furnishings. My favourite was the kingsize canopy bed, the wood-burning fireplace and romantic bathroom with clawfoot bathtub.


The Rawdons Estate also houses the Boars Head Pub, an independent brewery known for its naturally brewed ales and lagers. Here one can sample an array of quirky-named ales like tipsy tiger or pye-eyed possum, as well as their very own gin and tonic on tap. If you think you’ve quaffed quite enough, you can brim your belly from a hearty selection of pub dishes like beer battered hake (my favourite) and hunters pie.


The Rawdons Hotel is the perfect base from which to explore everything the Midlands has to offer. Or for a simple day of relaxing, just curl up with a book next to the pool. Apart from the beautiful scenery and luxurious atmosphere, what I appreciated the most about the hotel, was their friendly staff and their efforts at making our stay feel super special.

My favourite spots in the Meander for

Breakfast: The Blueberry Café

Coffee: Terbodore coffee Roastery

Browsing & shopping: The Piggly Wiggly Country Village and Ground Cover Leather company.

Lunch: Chicken pies from the Windmill Country Stop

Beers followed by dinner: The Hogs Head Brewery

Story + Photos by Barbara Cilliers

Interview with Carla Erasmus

Carla Erasmus | Cofounder of Bofred Feature Furniture

The air is warm and prickly as we manoeuvre our rented Hyundai up the steep streets of Cape Town’s city centre. Up ahead, the large flat body of Table Mountain towers like a majestic monument. Behind us, the deep blue water of the atlantic glimmers in the sunlight. It’s a bright and sunny day in Southern Africa, and we’re on our way to meet Carla Erasmus, co founder of Bofred; the feature furniture brand based in Cape Town. Carla has warmly agreed to an interview and invited us to her home, where we’re gingerly greeted by her curious, and oh so photogenic dog, Frankie.

Dog on a couch
Homestory with Carla Erasmus, owner of Bofred

INTERVIEW

How did you get started with Bofred? What was the inspiration and driving force behind starting your own thing?

“Boredom really… I got bored with working really hard for other people and executing their creative visions. I had my own. That gave me confidence to take the leap. I was stuck in a 8-6 job. Underpaid and creatively frustrated. That’s enough to make you be brave enough and start your own thing!”

At what point did you realise or start to feel that Bofred was worth pursuing and that it could be a viable business?

“I still don’t know. We have three years behind us. I work really hard, I give it my all. I’m an early riser and a confident business owner. That must count. I think it’s a viable business because I LOVE my job. I strive for perfection and originality & creative indulgence… We have many opportunities ahead of us that excite me.”

INTERVIEW WITH CARLA ERASMUS
INTERVIEW WITH CARLA ERASMUS

Was there a point in time where you almost gave up? Tell us about that – and why you kept going nonetheless.

“I want to give up when I realise I could make more money… I made a lot more before I had my own company. But money isn’t everything you know… and I am not giving up…”

Which piece that you developed, are you most proud of?

“The Arch Table Lamp. I LOVE it.”

What motivates you in your work or where do you find your inspiration?

“I go to lots of art exhibitions. Im an artist and a photographer – and not strictly a designer. My designs are just sculptural yet practical items for the home. I find most inspiration in art and music.”

Bofred-Homestory-with-Carla-Erasmus
Homestory-with-Carla-Erasmus-from-Bofred-

Do you have a mentor? Tell us about him or her. If not, who would you most love to learn from?

“Oooooh, tough one. I perhaps need a mentor. I read a lot about other small businesses and their success stories – so I absorb what other creatives are doing around me. So I can learn from their mistakes and make insightful decisions in my business.”

How would you define your home style or style of your home?

“It’s lots of found items from travels and heirlooms. Lots of art and photographs and books and textures. I don’t really follow trends – I just buy what I like and I can use in my home. Everything has a story, I know where everything is from, when why and how. Nothing is bought in sets of 8. Nothing matches the drapes. As one evolves – as one should – I let go of things and replace the insignificant purchases.”

Do you have inspiration sources that you apply to styling your home?

“Nope. I get influenced with work research and work and home collide. But I am a huge fan of young London based interior designer, Studio Ashby.”


What is your favourite room at home and why?

“The little corner seat at the front of the house. It’s a built in window seat. Trees being the view and dappled sunlight. Morning coffee / Friday night wine corner / Saturday morning meditation / Sunday lazy reading nook.”

What’s your favourite piece at home? Why do you love it.

“I bought a Staffordshire ceramic dog at a SPCA in Underberg, Kwazulu-Natal, and it’s my favourite possession. It cost nothing, literally I think R20 – but I gave a large donation because I’m an animal activist and it would only be fair. They did not realise the value. I LONG for a pair. My favourite pieces is the ART in my home, it grows and move around in the house… so it’s ever changing and ever pleasing.”

Do you have an architect, artist or an iconic designer who inspires you?

“Jacques Grange! ( interior designer ) & Eileen Grey // Cy Twombly as multi-disciplinary artist & Giacometti. No, too many to name. List is endless.”


What place do you escape to? A place you like to go to, to recharge or an address that makes you feel good?

“I go back “home” where i grew up – Durban – every three months. I visit my parents, my sister and her family. That’s solid quality time. And I can just be.”

“For me to recharge, take me to a secluded cabin, no electricity, no signal, no instagram – no evidence that I existed in that space – a waterfall…. my dog and my husband. Western Cape has endless magical spots such as these that I enjoy with my family and friends.”

Do you have a philosophy of life, or advice you follow religiously?

“Go to bed early. Go to bed with an empty mind. Go to sleep relaxed. Talk to your dog, your partner or read an easy read. Listen to music. Laugh. Get off your phone. And wake up early. Have a coffee, go for a walk, make a healthy breakfast and start work bright and early!”


Name one piece of advice you could give to someone who’d like to be pursue their own dream or business idea:

“Be Brave. Be original and have fun!”

If you could go back in time and meet one famous person, who would you want to meet and why:

“Geogia O Keefe. she had a lot of dogs. We would hang out and paint in her garden.”

What is your favourite destination outside of South Africa, and why do you love it?

“I haven’t travelled enough… but I loved travelling to Sri Lanka for a friends wedding – and we backpacked for three weeks after that…”

Name 5 of your favourite spots in Cape Town for…

Breakfast or coffee: Hemelhuijs.

Spending a hot summers day: In Yzerfontein sipping crisp Chardonnay at my mother in law’s home and taking a quick sunset dip in the freezing Atlantic!

Spending a cold winters day: If it’s raining: At home, with snacks and documentaries. If it’s just cold: Hiking up the mountain and enjoying the views and the fresh air!

Finding inspiration: At an art exhibition – hopefully by myself – on a saturday morning, SMITH or Stevenson Gallery.

A night out with friends: A night IN with friends. Or greek in the courtyard at Marias.

For more info about Bofred and the beautiful furniture they make, take a look at their website and instagram.

Nosh Deli in Berlin

Nosh Deli in Berlin

I do not write about restaurants all that often. And there’s a really good reason why. In order for a place to make it to these pages, they have to meet three specific criteria. Number one is off course a beautiful interior with a great energy and atmosphere. Secondly, the food needs to be better than my mom’s cooking. Finally the service has to be really great. Trust me, in Berlin, this trifecta is not that easy to find.

But, in the heart of Schöneberg’s Rote Insel, a couple of blocks down Leberstraße, there is a tiny deli, that ticks all three of these boxes. Around two and a half years ago, owner Erdal Balli, transformed the garage that once stood here, into the vibrant eatery now called Nosh.

Nosh Deli in Berlin

Nosh Deli in Leberstraße
Berlin Restaurant Nosh

Balli, who used to own Stellwerk down in Steglitz, is no stranger to the culinary scene. You may recognise his surname on a few kebab shops around Berlin, owned by Balli’s family. After 12 years of running quite a sizeable restaurant, Erdal decided to scale down to a smaller, more flexible eatery, to make more time for his family. His head chef from Stellwerk, now commands the kitchen at Nosh, where food from all kinds of cultures come together.

The menu is a cosmopolitain mix of influences; from Mongolian Beef Pasta to Ukrainien Wareniki. Derived from the Yiddish “naschen” which means to snack or nibble, the name Nosh is a testament to the restaurant’s east-european jewish influence and Balli’s own connection to the Russian and jewish communities in Berlin.

Nosh Menu

Restaurant Nosh in Schöneberg
Beautiful Decor at Nosh

When I mention to Erdal how I always notice fresh flowers whenever I’m there, he quickly attributes it to his wife Viji’s keen counsel. She coincidentally runs Mokalola cafè next door and makes sure that Erdal keeps his finger on the finer details.

Clearly though Erdal has quite an eye for good design himself, and laughingly admits to a slight obsession with beautiful chairs. The tasteful interior is the result of his own directives; from the mid century chairs he sourced from e-bay, to the tables he had custom made. The wonderful factory lamps from a former GDR factory, he salvaged, cleaned up and had rewired. They now serve as beautiful statement pieces above each table.

Halloumi salad from Nosh

Nosh Deli in Berlin
Nosh Berlin

The restaurant recently extended their open hours from 12 in the afternoon on Monday through to Thursdays. The rest of the week you’ll find them open between five and eleven. During warmer summer days, you can enjoy your food on the outside terrace upstairs. But you don’t have to wait for better weather to nosh on a delicious meal. Even on a cold winter’s evening, their Halloumi salad remains one of my favourites.

Find Nosh here:

Leberstrasse 21, Berlin, Germany (See on map)

Follow them here:

Nosh Deli Facebook Page

Berlin Nosh

Story + Photos by Barbara Cilliers

Philodendron Rojo Congo

Philodendron Rojo Congo

Say hello to my new friend Philodendron Rojo Congo. We met a couple of weeks ago, when this curiously coloured character found its way onto my desk. It took me several google attempts to ascertain it’s species, but I wasn’t completely surprised to discovered it to be yet another Philodendron – the Araceae family does after all, have close to 500 different species.

The Philodendron Rojo Congo can be identified by the bright red colour of young foliage. As the plant ages, the lance shape leafs turn a deeper darker green while the leaf stems retain their deep Auburn hue.

Philodendron Rojo Congo Plant
Philodendron Rojo Congo

Philodendron Rojo Congo

From the ancient Greek “philos” which means “love” and “dendron”, meaning “tree”, the name philodendron describes the species’ propensity for winding around trees. But unlike it’s brother Monstera, the Rojo does not share this climbing character. Instead, like the Xanadu, this philodendron is self-heading, which means it grows upwards and outwards.

Philodendron Rojo
Philodendron Leaf

Native to South America, the Rojo Congo prefers partial to shady areas but does not tolerate cold temperatures. This low maintenance perennial makes an excellent houseplant thanks to its sculptural appearance and good looks, plus it keeps the air clean while doing so.

Caring for your Philodendron Rojo Congo

Names: Philodendron Rojo Congo.
Family: Araceae, native to South America.
Water: Regular or weekly interval, ensuring the soil remains moist, but never soggy.
Location: Shady, temperate areas. Diffused natural or indirect sunlight like a northern exposure as direct sun will cause leaf burn.
Soil: Fast draining acidic to neutral soil.
Toxicity: Toxic to pets and children.

Philodendron Rojo Congo
Philodendron Rojo Congo

Troubleshooting

Soft green droopy leaves:Your plant needs some water. Give if a good dousing and it should perk up quickly.
Yellow droopy leaves: Could be due to overwatering. Check your pot to ensure that it drains well and that your plant is not sitting in water. Always feel the soil with your finger before water. If the soil is wet, or moist, do not add water – this will cause the roots to rot.
Brown crispy spots on leaves: Leaf burn from too much direct sun. Move your plant to a bright but not sunny spot with indirect light.
Few leafs dropping off at the bottom but the other leafs look healthy: A healthy plant will at times drop off older leaves. If the rest of the plant is healthy, it should not cause worries.
Saggy, drooping leaves even after watering: Your plant may at some point get too big for its pot. If the plant looks otherwise healthy, but a little lethargic, consider wether it might be time to give it a slightly larger home. If this is not the case a nitrogen fertiliser could help rejuvenate it.

Potted Philodendron Rojo Congo

Story + Photos by Barbara Cilliers