Six experts in their fields give their insight into smart investments for the home
TEXT Julia Freemantle PHOTOGRAPHS Karl Rogers, supplied
Emanuele Benedini, owner and CEO of the Italian bathroom brand Agape, answers our questions about bathroom design agapedesign.it
BATHROOM COLOUR TRENDS SEEM TO HAVE CHANGED A LOT RECENTLY. WHICH BATHROOM COLOURS WON’T DATE TOO QUICKLY? I would definitely go for something neutral, a nicely weighted shade of grey probably. The more vibrant colours, so in vogue today, will quickly tire after the initial enthusiasm has faded away. Neutrals, on the other hand, allow the items and the surfaces to shine and stand out, acting as an unselfish backdrop for the perfect bathroom composition.
WHAT MATERIALS AND SURFACES WILL ADD VALUE TO A BATHROOM? Marble. This truly timeless material has proven itself. Available in a great number of varieties, marble has an intrinsic value and it can be truly contemporary when wisely matched with other materials – as seen in the Lariana free-standing basin, where marble and wood go hand-in-hand for amazing aesthetic and functional appeal.
FOR A BATHROOM THAT WILL ADD VALUE AND NOT BECOME PASSÉ WITHIN A FEW YEARS, WHAT TYPE OF BATH WOULD YOU RECOMMEND? It would greatly depend on the environment and its mood. Our Ottocento, for example, is a non-nostalgic reinterpretation of the classic free-standing bath, and would be comfortable in any kind of bathroom, today or 15 years from now. The baths from the Spoon family, designed by my brother Giampaolo Benedini, have been our best-sellers for more than 20 years now, and show that simple yet bold statements have their own timeless value. The Vieques by Patricia Urquiola is a sophisticated piece with a strong personality, yet is an easy complement to many different atmospheres and products.
Elizabete Nelson, communications manager at Gaggenau, talks timeless kitchen design gaggenau.com/za
WHAT ARE CONSUMERS CURRENTLY LOOKING FOR IN A KITCHEN? Integrated appliances are certainly a preference, and in terms of appliances trends, customers look for multifunctional appliances such as an oven-and-steam combo or oven-and-microwave combo.
WHAT SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN A NEWLY DESIGNED KITCHEN TO ENSURE IT DOESN’T DATE QUICKLY? Less is more is a trend, so no clutter (integrated appliances provide a seamless finish). Ergonomic layout – such as an eye-level oven and built-in extraction – is important, as is open-plan living where the kitchen is part of the home.
WHAT SHOULD YOU INCORPORATE IN A NEW KITCHEN TO ADD VALUE TO YOUR PROPERTY? The kitchen should be at least 10% of the value of your home. In addition, accessories such as cupboard hinges and taps, mixers and sinks must be good quality, so don’t cut costs here.
WHAT KIND OF FINISHES AND APPLIANCES ARE INVESTMENT-WORTHY? In terms of finishes, wood, stone and good-quality stainless steel are both contemporary and timeless. Special features such as the Gaggenau climate-controlled wine cabinet add significant value.
Garden designer Franchesca Watson gives some tips on creating a garden that will add value to your property franchescawatson.com
WHAT SHOULD YOU PLANT IN YOUR GARDEN TO ENSURE LONGEVITY? If you’re planting for the long term, trees and shrubs should form the backbone of the garden. Larger plants tend to live for longer than smaller ones, but this is not always the case – for instance, agapanthus will last for generations. As a rule of thumb, though, if the plants you choose are suited to the climate and soil, they will thrive and the garden will become established.
WHAT FEATURES DO PEOPLE MOST COMMONLY LOOK FOR IN A GARDEN? Young families love a lawn and a swimming pool, whereas older people tend to associate these with unnecessary maintenance. A terrace is always popular, and a vegetable or herb garden seems to be on most people’s wish list.
HOW DO YOU ENSURE THE GARDEN ADDS VALUE TO YOUR PROPERTY? What will set your property apart is good design that takes into account and works with the architecture – where the garden design gels with the architectural style.
HOW DO YOU ENSURE YOUR GARDEN DESIGN REMAINS TIMELESS? Avoid gimmicks in both design and plant choice.
FURNITURE: FUTURE CLASSICS
Aldon McLeod, the owner of True Design, a local stockist of authentic international designer products, gives some insight into furniture as investment truedesign.co.za
WHICH CONTEMPORARY DESIGNS DO YOU CONSIDER FUTURE CLASSICS – ITEMS THAT PEOPLE CAN INVEST IN NOW THAT MAY BECOME HEIRLOOMS IN THE COMING DECADES? There are some elegant contemporary pieces from Moroso. Designer Patricia Urquiola’s Fjord armchair with its fantastic curves will become a timeless piece.
WHICH BRAND IS A SOLID INVESTMENT? The Italian brand Cassina is renowned for its collectable furniture. Older pieces in authentic condition with a known provenance tend to be more valuable than newer versions.
WHICH PIECES DO YOU FIND CONSISTENTLY POPULAR? Cassina’s LC Collection is a best-selling range of investment pieces. [Cassina has the exclusive rights to manufacture and sell furniture designed by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand.] They are iconic and timeless, and can be incorporated into any setting, whether contemporary or classic.
WHICH UPHOLSTERY MATERIAL IS BEST FOR RETAINING VALUE? I would recommend leather, as fabric tends to fade and wear over years of use, whereas leather acquires character
FURNITURE: MID-CENTURY PIECES
We chat to Anikesh Ramani, co-owner of MØDERNIST, a mid-century modern furniture boutique in Parkhurst modernist.biz
WHY THE SUDDEN RESURGENCE OF INTEREST IN MID-CENTURY DESIGN? The good, clean design is understated, which helps to keep it timeless. In our increasingly use-and-throw-away culture, more and more people are also attracted to the older processes where profit was not the main factor in manufacturing, where real care was taken in making something – and a lot of it was done by hand or simple machinery.
WHAT KIND OF PIECES DO YOU CONSIDER PARTICULARLY COLLECTABLE? Good-condition labelled or stamped pieces, which are usually of Danish origin by designers like Finn Juhl, Arne Jacobsen, Børge Mogensen and Hans Wegner, to name a few, are collectable. Japanese minimal design also had an influence on this movement, and vice versa, so there are some great examples from the East as well. Pieces from other Scandinavian countries, Brazil and the US, among others, can also be sought-after.
WHICH NAMES SHOULD A LOCAL COLLECTOR LOOK FOR? Frystark, Artecasa, Kallanbach, DS Vorster and Novocraft are good examples of South African midcentury manufacturers. We used to find a fair number of authentic Danish pieces locally as well, but these have become rare. At MØDERNIST, we now work with a buyer to import original mid-century pieces from Denmark. Our shop Wasteland upstairs stocks mainly locally sourced items.
IS THERE ANYTHING THAT IS A NO-NO IN TERMS OF RESTORATION? Premium mint-condition pieces bought as an investment should always be left as untouched as possible. But such pieces are rare in any case. On the imported Danish items, we do very light wood restoration that retains the character of the piece. Altering the wood in any way that is not reversible is a big no-no, and painting it in a different colour can affect re-sale. There are no issues, however, with re-upholstering a piece in materials that one likes that form part of an interior look, especially if the original or previously re-covered fabric is dated or worn.
Interested in investing in art? Bina Genovese, joint managing director Cape Town at Strauss & Co, has some advice straussart.co.za
WHAT IS CURRENTLY PROVING TO BE COLLECTABLE IN THE ART SPHERE? Collectors’ tastes and needs are varied, and as such it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what is proving to be collectable. That said, in South Africa, earlier-20th-century moderns are sought-after – Irma Stern, JH Pierneef, Alexis Preller, Anton van Wouw and Maggie Laubscher, among others. In 2018, in order to meet the demands of a noticeable shift in buying trends, Strauss & Co introduced a standalone contemporary art auction to its programme. Emerging young contemporary South African artists that are collectable include Zander Blom, Georgina Gratrix, Mustafa Maluka, Simphiwe Ndzube and Jake Aikman. We have also witnessed a noticeable uptick in interest in the work of photographers such as Jane Alexander, David Goldblatt, Zanele Muholi and Mary Sibande.
HOW DOES A WOULD-BE INVESTOR WITH LIMITED FUNDS CHOOSE WISELY? The old adage that it is advisable to purchase a five-star work by a lesserknown artist rather than a one-star work by a greater artist still stands today. Endeavour to buy the best examples of an artist’s output that you can afford.
DO TRENDS SWAY WHAT’S MORE DESIRABLE, OR IS THE VALUE OF ART DETERMINED BY OTHER FACTORS? Yes, trends do affect art prices. It is advisable not to be too swayed by what is popular or trendy, as it may go out of fashion as quickly as it came in. Most artists earn their reputation over a long period of time. Other factors that can influence the value of art are artist retrospectives (exhibitions that open the public’s eyes to a particular artist’s oeuvre), museums (we are fortunate in South Africa to have an increased number of museums that are constantly mounting exhibitions that endorse and educate), academic endorsement, galleries (they do an enormous amount of work to promote their represented artists); and exposure in the press (Nelson Makamo’s recent appearance on The Daily Show and Time magazine’s cover has definitely enhanced his reputation).
WHAT CRITERIA SHOULD SOMEONE USE TO CHOOSE AN INVESTMENT PIECE THAT WILL APPRECIATE? If you buy an artist at the zenith of his/her career you are not going to see a return in the short term. It is important to like what you collect as many years could go by before the value increases, if at all.