African express: a spectacular apartment in Cape Town | Interiors
IIt was perhaps inevitable that sculptor Rodan Kane Hart and his partner, interior curator Maybe Corpaci, treated their home as an experimental space. Part home, part studio and part refuge, it is also an ever-evolving creative outlet for their ideas and art and design collections.
On the sixth floor at the top of a 1930s building, originally built for a shipping company, the apartment is in Cape Town’s central business district. A polished granite plinth, ornate turret and richly decorated cornice evoke a time of opulence and prosperity. The black-and-white marble lobby leads into a teak-paneled expedition room, while arched doorways and parquet floors are found throughout. Rodan and Maybe were drawn as much to the grandeur – allowing Rodan to have his studio at home, as well as providing ample space for furniture – as to the period details.
The lobby features a Saruyama Island sofa and two-seater sofa, both by Toshiyuki Kita for Moroso. A pair of Ant chairs by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen sits beneath an artwork by Unathi Mkonto.
In the living and dining area, the modular sofa by Brazilian designer Percival Lafer is combined with a Tuareg bed that serves as a coffee table. Works include those of Brett Charles Seiler and Rodan himself.
Rodan started collecting furniture in his twenties. “I would sell some art and buy some furniture,” he says. His gradually expanding collection of largely mid-century pieces worked well in the type of warehouse lofts he had occupied before moving here, but found new expression in this more commercial space. Perhaps adds that the apartment left them with “lots of space to fill” when they first moved in.
She says their apartment developed around furniture rather than an interior design concept or a preconceived idea. Their creative energies were devoted to figuring out how to combine and recombine individual pieces.
“It starts with a piece, and then we create a narrative around it,” Maybe explains. “It happens quite organically. There’s nothing premeditated about it, or specific to a layout we’re sticking to.
Coins were never purchased to match, but rather for merit and interest. Inevitably, they’ve been drawn to works that resonate with others they already own, but that’s about as strategic as their approach has ever been. And not everything is collectible. “We like bargains,” says Maybe. They bought the dining table for next to nothing at an auction and blackened it to give it new life. “It worked in space and we grew around it,” Rodan said.
The kitchen features black and white checkered linoleum floors and Tokyo stools by British designer Rodney Kinsman for Bieffeplast, originally designed in 1985 for the Groucho Club in London.
The root of Rodan’s interest stems from his conception of furniture as functional art – a practical manifestation of what he explores through sculpture.
Rodan suggests that while art often seems purely emotional, furniture design, perhaps because it is practical, retains a narrative quality he loves – a kind of patina of use.
“I think architecture and design are fields steeped in history and experience,” he says.
The apartment is really a meeting of two individual styles – Maybe is in soft whites, creams and beiges in, say, the living room, while Rodan’s preferences are, she says, “angular, black and chrome “.
While Rodan and Maybe’s home might be something of a personal creative lab, it’s also a testament to how life takes its own unexpected turns.
Rodan compares the process to something he encountered while collecting vinyl records – and an entire room in the apartment is given over to his mostly punk albums. He says that collecting is not so much the objects you pursue as the discoveries you make along the way. He thinks of all the other music he has discovered while looking for a particular record or another, and the richness that travel brings.
This is why it is so important that there is no end in mind. “It’s never over,” Maybe says of their apartment. “It’s a playground, an experimental place where there are no mistakes.” This experience is about inspiration, new interests, and adding another layer of history.