In Conversation With: Cape Town Expo Judges
What makes Cape Town HOMEMAKERS Expo one of the most prestigious events in the home lifestyle industry? Included in the factors that create a memorable show are our illustrious judges. Meet our panel of industry professionals who will undertake the difficult task of choosing the winning stands at the 2017 Cape Town HOMEMAKER Expo. This year’s judges are Sumien Brink, Editor-in-Chief of VISI and Plascon SPACES, Rudolph Jordaan, Owner of A-Pax Design, Mardre Meyer, Creative Director of Source, Interior Brand Architecture, Marius Hitge, Owner of Marius Hitge & Co, Christine Meintjes, Founder of theprettyblog, and Amelia Brown, Features Editor of VISI and Assistant Editor on Plascon SPACES. They share some valuable insight into the judging process with us.
Firstly, tell us a little bit about yourself
Sumien Brink: I’m Editor-in-Chief of VISI and Plascon SPACES. I live right in the centre of Cape Town. I have two kids that live in neighbouring countries and a granddaughter whose favourite thing in the whole world is a “krimpvarkie”!
Rudolph Jordaan: I’m an analytical, detailed conscious interior designer at my own company A-Pax Design. I was the winner of SABC 3’s Win a Home Show (season 3), and a lecturer at both Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and Inscape Education Group.
Mardre Meyer: I’m the creative director of a commercial interior architecture and design studio. Our studio enjoys any creative challenge but have built particular expertise in designing hotels across the African continent, Indian Ocean Islands, Middle East and recently also the Far East. I love black, but grey even more, am totally obsessed with mid-century furniture and architecture and I fantasize about renovating entire neighbourhoods of homes from South Africa’s 1970’s suburban sprawl.
Christine Meintjes: I’m a photographer and founder of theprettyblog.com. I have a huge appreciation for beautiful design, good food and pretty spaces. My husband and I built our house 6 years ago and it’s my sanctuary. I’m constantly changing, improving, adding to and removing from our home, because it’s an ever evolving project. A task that’s never 100% done.
Marius Hitge: For the last 32 years I’ve run a small creative company. I’m passionate about client service and attention to detail. The landscape of interiors is shaped through innovative design and concepts that communicate the client’s brand and expectations. I also live with three dogs, cats and geese on a small olive grove in the Northern Suburbs of Cape Town.
Amelia Brown: When I’m not writing or whipping copy into shape in my day job as Features Editor on VISI and Assistant Editor on Plascon SPACES magazines, some of my favourite things to do are going for a walk on the mountain with my dog, weekend brunching, getting lost down the rabbit hole of Pinterest, or day dreaming of my next travel destination.
How long have you been judging at the Cape HOMEMAKERS Expo?
Sumien Brink: It’s been at least six times!
Mardre Meyer: This will be my third innings.
Marius Hitge: For the last 5 years.
How do you feel about judging this year’s Cape HOMEMAKERS Expo?
Rudolph Jordaan: I want the contenders to be very afraid of my critical nature purely because I am so focused on functionality and practicality.
Christine Meintjes: Very excited! We have so much great talent in South Africa and I’m looking forward to seeing what innovative ideas people come up with.
Amelia Brown: Excited! I’m in the midst of a home renovation, so the show couldn’t come at a better time to offer me the opportunity to browse, be inspired and get some practical contacts.
What sets HOMEMAKERS Expo apart from other home lifestyle events in the country?
Sumien Brink: It’s a very honest show. Very informative and everyone departing on a house renovation or any building project should visit. A one-stop shop for all info relating to the building and DIY industry.
Mardre Meyer: The obvious difference is its connection with its namesake publication. This means that the content of the Expo is really informed by a true connection to its public.
Rudolph Jordaan: You become one with yourself through understanding your own likes and dislikes so much better.
Marius Hitge: I think it’s all practical products that is kind of new on the market and they have skilled people manning the stands to give you more info about each product.
Amelia Brown: The scale and quality of exhibitors all under one roof.
What will you be looking for in a stand?
Sumien Brink: It should be easily approachable with not too much decoration. Keep it simple and get your message across.
Rudolph Jordaan: I will be examining what the designers would like to tell us about the cultures in which they have produced, without them saying a word. Understanding and initiating new ways of facilitating basic human behaviour will be at the top of my list.
Mardre Meyer: Stands are built with different goals in mind. As a designer, I look for a clear concept and in particular, consideration for creating a three dimensional environment rather than just filling a shell-scheme box.
Christine Meintjes: I’m looking for a good mix between innovation, practicality and beautiful aesthetics. In my opinion, when those three come together, it’s a recipe for success.
Marius Hitge: Texture, colour and how the client makes his stand fit in with his specific brand.
Amelia Brown: I think visual appeal is important in order to stand out in such a busy environment, but two additional important aspects for me are whether one feels invited and drawn into the space, and then how easy it is to access and navigate, especially when there are crowds.
Are there any memorable stands that you’ve seen at our shows in the years you’ve been judging?
Mardre Meyer: Quite a few. Some were impressive because they created completely new environments and others because they used their own product in the most innovative and cost-effective ways to create visual interest.
Marius Hitge: For sure, but every year there are new products and then I think, wow, people do get very creative!
What are the best and worst parts of the judging process?
Sumien Brink: Seeing all the new products in one place is the very best. The worst is to give points for the best stand. So many people go to so much trouble and they can’t all be awarded.
Mardre Meyer: Acknowledging great effort is rewarding. Hopefully this also encourages a spirit of excellence that others will follow. It does feel cruel when one can see effort has been made and money spent but the stand still does not translate well.
Marius Hitge: There are so many different aspects to HOMEMAKERS. A person must stand back and see where the exhibitor is coming from to give him a good rating, and then to see all the old faces and good friends!
In your opinion, how has the Expo evolved over the years?
Sumien Brink: It has become the definitive home show. I love the fact that it is so accessible to all.
Mardre Meyer: In the two years that I have been involved, the Expo has definitely come leaps and bounds in presenting itself as a lifestyle experience rather than just a sourcing mecca. The general quality of the stands also elevated substantially.
Marius Hitge: Much bigger with a huge amount of new and existing products.
Why do you think one should spend money on improving and beautifying your home?
Rudolph Jordaan: Your mental well-being is 100% dependent on your living conditions no matter the size. When you take ownership of your space, you take ownership of your life.
Christine Meintjes: I believe that your home is your sanctuary. A place where you feel safe, but also where you refresh your energy. I believe that design plays a huge part in how you feel and that it should be considered when improving your home. My aim with improving our home is always to make it more of a home than a house.
Amelia Brown: Whatever’s going on in the world, our homes are our sanctuaries. I recently painted our spare bedroom and the difference it’s made to the space, in just a weekend, was more than I even expected. It was long overdue and in a fairly inexpensive and immediate way, the room’s atmosphere has completely changed. I am simultaneously proud of the achievement, buoyed to do more home improvements, and eager to spend more time in the room.
What are the home improvement and décor trends for the next year and the future?
Rudolph Jordaan: Taking from what I’ve seen in Milan this year, definitely having more than one predominant bright colour – obviously complementary!
Christine Meintjes: I believe as much as we look towards trends, we always need to go back to what you personally love and feel fits into your lifestyle. I’m personally always a fan of white, light and clean spaces. I do see that dark colours and more moody spaces are very popular, but I think that’s for a very specific kind of person, who is unfortunately not me. I lean more towards the minimalist, Scandinavian look 🙂
Amelia Brown: Less is more. With the now mainstream “experiences not things” millennial maxim and the rise of the Air BnB-Uber global nomad, we may be owning less, but we’re not prepared to settle and every item is carefully chosen as a reflection of who we are. There’s never been so much choice, so much opportunity to create and curate your reality, and the result is a discerning, conspicuous young consumer.
Then there’s the influence of urban living. With a rush to get into cities and the rise of smaller properties, the ease of global travel and influences, and more satellite work-from-home offices, all mean we’ll see smart modular multipurpose domestic and office furniture.