It’s strange when you can’t remember what something was before, especially if it’s purported to have been painted magenta.
I’m surprised because I so love Braamfontein’s Juta Street with its inspired metal trees and little shops further down that look like a Pantone colour chart.
I’m gazing at 99 Juta. Heather and I watch six big streetfront window spaces lighting up for the day. The exterior is all Karen Khachaturov pink and emerald mosaic. Until now the olive-gold mosaic façade of the Orbit in De Korte Street had been my favourite.
Inside, down an alluring glass and metal gangway, we talk to the entrance clerk and take his advice about going up the original deco staircase. The bronze and black chequered tiles on the landings are original too.
I feel as if I’m sleepwalking here and the display rooms add to my layers of wonder, airily arranged with some super-ideal, some startling stuff. Meeting one of the designers is part of that, dizzy as I am with awe for inventor-designers.
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Monique van Zyl is Monique Vee of the clever table without legs that hangs sturdily like an inverted nail table but much larger. Throughout, the Joe Paine and 2B rooms are collections by some of South Africa’s best designers. South Africa’s Most Beautiful Object 2018 is here too, Thabiso Mjo’s breathtaking lamp.
I am falling in love with a desk by Paine called Mechanical Bureau Mark II. With the turn of a black, steel handle very visible old-fashioned cranks and ratchets push the kiaat work-top out.
Half the first floor is Dokter and Misses’ space, the wellknown product designers. They, along with architects, Local Studio, redeveloped this building.
Upstairs is an exhibition of Dokter and Misses’ collaboration with Ngwenya Glass, bizarre but comforting Moonjelly lamps, roundly resting blown glass on angular supports.
On the ground floor, we see wooden spindle-back chairs and just-right tables at Houtland. Past the bar, photographs by Armenian Karen Khachaturov float to mind again.
This pink courtyard with yellow detail and cactuses is almost channelled from his slightly disorienting, surreal-dreamy spaces. It’s a perfect place for laughing and forgetting.
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