As we were planning this issue, I was reminded of a real estate marketing buzz phrase I heard recently: artisanal living. There’s a compelling ring to it, right? But what do you think it means? My romantic brain bolted to visions of a space fitted out with gorgeous old carpenter tables, handmade ceramic tiles, brand-new matte black industrial-looking tapware, exposed beams, Carrara for miles and no rattling windows or creaky floorboards.
I was mildly disheartened to learn that artisanal living in fact implies madly chic apartments, lofts or studios in a newly refurbished urban development with a neighbourly village vibe. Butchers, bakers, candlestick makers and well, juice baristas – the artisan du jour – at arm’s reach. It’s a comforting concept and reflects the emotive power of village-community connections to the way we want to live. Can you imagine what a wildfire win these places would be if they came with a gorgeous old carpenter table or two?
Which brings me to the current fashion for kitchens in this month’s Design Solutions. The laboratory look – stainless-steel stadiums for fantasy cheffing – is losing ground to the workshop look, which combines the mod cons and tech (commerce compels us to be set free from the Yuppiechef website) with an informal but high-design setup of freestanding and fixed furniture like the brilliant Bulthaup B2 range of tool cabinet, workbench and appliance cabinet.
Going more rustic, we visit a unique homestead and farm on the Garden Route, which the owners have very mindfully cultivated to express a culture of connection to and celebration of African nature. Getting out of the city to recharge is one thing, but getting out of the city to recharge here is not just an antidote but instead a potent re-dose of sense, serenity and self nurture.
Another favourite feature is Something Wicker This Way Comes, a restored manor house in a town in Provence famed for its wicker work. Not only is the dying art being revived and made relevant at the workshop and studio the owners established on the property, but it’s an interior dream scene from artisanal Arcadia, where the allure of peeling paint, I think, is the new black.
I hope your imagination bolts as much as mine did when I first saw the pictures.
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