By Margaretta wa Gacheru (posted 12 March 2019)
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’s Exhibition Hall 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 wall papers 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 haven’t walked into somebody’s elegant home.
Marc's coffee table topped with Anthony Wanjau sculpture & backed by Rupal's elegant wallpaper
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 an elegant chest of drawers (made with solid Mavuli wood) topped with an original sculpture by a relatively unknown artist, Samwel Wanjau, Jr. You need not be told that he’s the grandson of the great, late Kenyan 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 Mavuli by Marc.
Sculpture by Samwel Wanjau Jr, son of Jackson who's son of Samwel Sr.
Then comes the living (or sitting) room where in place of those over-stuffed pseudo-Victorian sofa sets, you find beautifully upholstered sofas and chairs created by Marc. But one sofa’s modeled 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’ modeled after one by 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.
Marc and Rupal stand beside Marc's chests of drawers, chair with Rupal's wall paper
Meanwhile, Rupal’s work is everywhere, especially as she and Marc use her painterly wall papers to cover every partition as if to frame each room with a warmth and beauty that’s gentle and joyful to the eye. For wall paper like Rupal’s 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 only opened her company eight years ago. But already she’s got clients like the Aga Khan, Finch-Hatton family and Radisson Group. The reason she’s attracted such a high-end clientele will be clear once you reach their ‘Contemporary Classics’ show. Her fabrics and especially her wallpapers are exquisite. She makes every ‘wall’ in the show look like it’s covered in a work of art since the sources of her wall paper 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’s actually made out of vinyl which 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.
Rupal's Chinese print on wall paper at Village Market
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 Mavuli oval dining room table with matching benches. They’re surrounded by Rupal’s Japanese prints on the partitions. The table is the kind you’d love to have in your dining room, especially if you have a big family or love having friends over for meals. And with flexible seating on the benches, you can entertain many or few and the table can suit them all.
Finally, the last ‘room’ to see is the bedroom with the chest of drawers, night tables and bed made out of matching wood. The room itself is casually cordoned off. But inside, Rupal’s wall paper enhances the warmth already generated by Marc’s wood work.
Marc's writing table and chair topped with Naomi's glass art,backed by Richard Kimathi painting
Plus 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.
Peterson Kimathi reclining figures, part of Marc's private collection
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.
Beatrice Wanjiku painting is also part of Marc's private collection