Kamers vol Geskenke, the popular creative pop-up event, made bold inroads into the city centre for the first time with a collaborative four day World Design Capital event at the Castle of Good Hope.
Billed as “a visual feast of creativity, entrepreneurship, music, food and designed wares” the event was designed to support emerging creatives and entrepreneurs, so teaming up with the Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI) made a lot of sense: both organisations share a passion for showcasing and developing local talent and design.
The castle is a remarkably atmospheric setting and on a lovely bright winter’s day it lent itself perfectly to this event. Three floors of rooms – ‘kamers’ – in one wing were filled with carefully curated wares (‘geskenke’ or ‘treasure’) – some in the corridors and others flowing into individual spaces. What distinguishes Kamers from many other markets is the beautifully styled stalls. Even if the products are not to one’s taste, the way they are lit and displayed is imaginative and innovative, greatly adding to the pleasures of browsing.
Exhibits included a variety of body products – all natural and cruelty free – with an emphasis on local ingredients and sustainability. Oh-Lief Natural Products had teamed up with NGO Greenpop to create charming gift sets for babies, which contained the GPS co-ordinates for a tree which would be planted from the sale.
There were also ceramics and accessories, which included gorgeous booties in crochet by newcomer ‘Off The Hook’ in original colours such as deep purple and emerald green. Clothing, craft, décor and design, stationary, ‘upcycled’ goods, children’s ware and hand crafted jewellery – very similar to the exhibitors at the Design Indaba – the list goes on and on.
After a while, my partner declared “it’s all getting a bit girly for me” and promptly marched off to the bar in the music tent, where the line up included Sima Mashazi, Mr Cat & the Jackal, Luna Paige, and Joshua Grierson.
The live music was a strong component of the Kamers experience, and an excellent sound system ensured the music drifted in at the windows to reach those browsing the stalls. Likewise, the gourmet food and wine were impressive, particularly the deli selection which had such original offerings as ‘The Department of Coffee’, which is based in Khayelitsha, ‘O’ My Goodness’ – a new plant-based, vegan snack bar (think delicious mushroom ‘biltong’ and cocoa and chia clusters.) ‘The Magnificent Barista Boys’ – a mobile designer beverage company – offered exotic drinks such as Turkish delight flavoured dark hot chocolate. Vegetarian raw food, epicurean mini burgers and gourmet pizzas were displayed alongside more traditional offerings such as Malay curries, pies and salads. The food stalls were some of the most creatively displayed and purchasing food became a visual delight, with happy diners meeting friends at the trestle tables set out in the Dolphin Pond Courtyard.
The only mutterings to be heard were the prices that seem to have become synonymous with the high end market scene, particularly with food and beverages. It is a pity, as one would like to support small, local entrepreneurs, but at R50 for 200g of dried mango, R 60 for a very small margarita pizza, R 40 for a craft beer and R 35 for a cupcake, a snack becomes eye-wateringly expensive. It appears as if the words ‘artisan’, ‘craft’ and ‘gourmet’ are indicative of sky-high prices. And yet people still flocked in: the queue for tickets on Saturday curved right out past the moat.
The collaboration as a whole, however, should be applauded. Genuine care was taken to source original and inspiring products and to showcase them elegantly in a historical setting that many may otherwise not have visited. In fact the setting was quite possibly the biggest winner of all: we very much hope to see many more such carefully-curated events at the castle in future.
Kamers vol Geskenke & CCDI ran at the Castle of Good Hope 5 to 8 June 2014.
Samantha Reynolds is a freelance writer and photographer focusing on art and travel. More of her work can be found at goldendreams.me.