If you’re looking for ideas on how to decorate your home and don’t know the best place to go, why not try Village Market in Nairobi where a home interiors show entitled ‘Contemporary Classics’ runs through this coming Sunday.
The show features warm, richly grained wood furniture by Marc van Rampelberg of Rampel Designs and unbelievably elegant wallpapers and fabrics by Rupal Rach of Design for Living. Together they create such a cozy, charming and tasteful setting out of their show that one almost forgets you have not walked into somebody’s elegant home.
Using partitions to separate each space and cleverly create a semblance of separate rooms, Marc generated an entire floor plan for the hall. Initially, you walk into the ‘foyer’ and find a chest of drawers (made with solid Mvuli wood) topped with an original sculpture by a relatively unknown artist, Samwel Wanjau, Jr.
You need not be told that he is the grandson of the great, late Kenyan renowned sculptor, Samwel Wanjau Senior since you can see echoes of the elder in his grandson’s artwork. The mirror above the drawers is round and welcoming, also made from Mvuli by Marc.
Then comes the living (or sitting) room where in place of those overstuffed pseudo-Victorian sofa sets, you find beautifully upholstered sofas and chairs created by Marc. One sofa is modelled after the French furniture designer Chareau’s style. And what looks like the most comfortable seat in the room, Marc says is a ‘French Club chair’ modelled after another famous Frenchman, Follot.
“All the other furniture in the show are my designs, but I prefer to credit my sources of inspiration,” he says.
Meanwhile, Rupal’s wallpaper has the capacity to transform an ordinary space into one’s that exceptional and memorable.
Trained as a textile engineer at University of Manchester, Rupal opened her company eight years ago. Her clients include Finch Hattons luxury tented camp and Radisson Blu group.
Her fabrics and especially her wallpapers are exquisite. She makes every ‘wall’ in the show look as it is covered in a work of art since the sources of her wallpaper are literally classic. They range from traditional Chinese and modern Japanese art to African geometric designs and German patterns drawn from all over the planet.
What’s more, the term ‘wall paper’ is a slight misnomer since it might look paper-like, but Rupal says today it is made out of vinyl that she tops with a wide range of fabrics. Her ‘paper’ comes in silk, linen, cotton and even cork which she occasionally ‘pearlizes’ to create a relief-like textured effect on her walls.
Then beyond the ‘living room’ (which includes a sweetly curved chest of wooden drawers and tall ‘club table’ for when you have friends over for cocktails) is the dining room. There, Marc displays his magnificent Mvuli oval dining room table with matching benches. They are surrounded by Rupal’s Japanese prints on the partitions.
The table is the kind you would love to have in your dining room, especially if you have a big family or love having friends over for meals. Finally, the last ‘room’ to see is the bedroom with the chest of drawers, night tables and bed made out of matching wood. Inside, Rupal’s wallpaper enhances the warmth already generated by Marc’s wood work.
The bedroom is where you can easily see more of the artistic touches that Marc has made to the exhibition. They include paintings by leading Kenyan artists like Peterson Kamwathi, Anthony Okello, Beatrice Wanjiku and others from his private collection as well as sculptures by Gakunju Kaigwa, Morris Foit and two more Wanjau’s, Anthony and Jackson both of whom, like Samwel Junior, clearly inherited the elder sculptor’s gene since all their wooden works are beautifully carved.
The other artist whose hand-painted glass art enhances the elegance of the show is Naomi van Rampelberg, another artist who like the Wanjau’s has got artistic genes in her marrow and bones.