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Your Life: Karin Cawthorne

Karin is the owner of KARE Design in Kramerville, Johannesburg. We chatted to her about style, travel and her sustainable design narrative.

By Leigh Herringer

Luxury to me is timeless, understated and quality-driven whether it’s clothing, furniture or style. I’ve never been into brands and labels; I know what I like and it’s not too important where I buy it.
And turning left as I enter a plane!

My design narrative is style meets sustainability. We’ve done enough damage to the environment and should reuse and redesign furniture, clothing and resources. As much as everyone loves a new design piece, outfit or trip in a private plane, the damage is irreversible. It’s easier said than done, but I try to consciously consider the environment.

My style icons are American fashion designers Jenna Lyons, and locally Deborah Chambers and Jenni Button – they wear what they love with conviction and confidence.

A day in my life usually consists of working at KARE Design in Kramerville, Johannesburg, and seeing or travelling to clients. There are more than 155 KARE Design stores worldwide and we are the only one in Africa. We have a showroom of almost 1000 square metres and import all our stock from Munich where our head office is based.

Elegant yet practical pieces from KARE are ideal for chill sessions, says Karin

How did you start KARE? I discovered the KARE brand almost 10 years ago when I was in Jakarta, Indonesia. I was obsessed with it immediately as I’ve always had a passion for interior design. I visited KARE’s Head Office in Munich in 2017 and together we decided that a store in South Africa is worth a chance. We opened in May 2018 and I’m still loving every moment of it.

A travel essential for Karin

My essential travel items are Vanity Fair Magazine and a new book – I always buy them at the airport before I travel – it’s a habit I’ve had for many years now. I also make sure that I have an extra set of clothes and something warm in my carry-on luggage.

A recent trip I went on was to spend New Year in London. I go to Munich twice a year for KARE and sometimes extend my trips to spend a few extra days travelling in a different country.

My most treasured possession is an Art Deco lounge set that I bought 25 years ago for next to nothing at a second-hand shop.

Karin’s Art Deco lounge

The art I would love to have in my home is something by Jeff Koons or anything from the Andy Warhol Museum in Prague.

Jeff Koon’s Balloon Dog

— Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe

A book I recently read: A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

If I could invite anyone to dinner, it would be Elon Musk’s mother; I have a few questions for her!

Elon’s mother, Maye Musk

The music I enjoy is early 80’s, James Arthur, Blue October, James Morrison and Pink.

My personal mantra is This too shall pass – it’s carried me through a few difficult periods in my life.

The one thing I would like to add to my home is more vintage furniture. I’ve discovered a new love and appreciation for mid-century furniture, especially Art Deco pieces.

A hotel I love: My favourite one is CB-ONE in Camps Bay.

CB-One in Cape town

The cities I enjoy: Barcelona and Budapest.

My guilty pleasure is building Lego – it’s so relaxing and creative. And Thomas Sabo jewellery.

Thomas Sabo Obsidan Cross Bead Bracelet

I buy most of my clothes at Zara, and COS when I’m overseas.

My essential beauty products are very simple, sunblock, lip balm and hand lotion.

To keep fit, I have a small gym at home and train three to four times a week. I enjoy eating too much not to train!

Interior trends this year are all about sustainability. KARE’s Let’s Do Better initiative is aimed at creating long-lasting, sustainable pieces that can one day be returned to the resource cycle.

I collect skulls. I’ve collected them in different colours, materials, sizes, and patterns for many years from all over the world, and I often receive them as gifts from friends and family. They seem to have negative connotations but are really a symbol of newness and starting over.

One of Karin’s skulls

The most beautiful spaces I’ve been to are KARE’s showroom in Munich. Yayoi Kusama’s collaboration with Louis Vuitton was amazing. I also love the Hermès store at Hamad International Airport in Doha, MamaSamba in Rosebank, and the Puma store in Prague.

Mamasamba in Rosebank

My jeans are from Zara.

My sneakers are New Balance 72s and I love Adidas vintage ranges.

New Balance 72s

My sunglasses are ones I love, regardless of the brand; now my favourite pairs are from D&G and Thomas Sabo.

Thomas Sabo Marlon Square Lily Havana sunglasses

I am inspired by ridiculously beautiful, clever design whether it’s architecture, cars, fashion, furniture or advertising. I always admire the talent, insight and thought that goes into bright ideas.

Instagram: @kare_design | Website: www.kare-design.com

Leigh Herringer

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