WORDS Tracy Lynn Chemaly IMAGES Paris Brummer
Maybe Corpaci and Rodan Kane Hart’s inner-city Cape Town apartment is a constantly evolving work of art that reflects the couple’s passion for furniture finds and innovative use of space.
It’s rather unusual to have to present one’s portfolio before being accepted to tenant a building. But that was the process favoured by Richard Lemkus, whose family owns the Exchange Building – a 1930s building on Cape Town’s St George’s Mall, where 85-year-old sneaker store Jack Lemkus occupies the ground floor. “I want the Exchange to be a collaborative environment, so I felt that it was necessary to curate the experience,” says Richard.
The portfolios of interior curator and creative consultant Maybe Corpaci (responsible for furnishing The Nest on the cover of VISI 109) and her partner, sculptural artist Rodan Kane Hart, made the right impression: they took over the entire top storey on the sixth floor. It was to become their new home and Rodan’s studio, and would also act as a canvas for Maybe’s interiors business and the couple’s new venture together – selling art and design by pairing them in a venue different from a traditional gallery.
The couple’s common interest in furniture in a variety of styles, as well as their obsession with second-hand treasures, has resulted in an interior that Rodan and Maybe call “a tapestry of auction finds”. “We’re on Facebook Marketplace every day, and we follow auctions and visit antique stores from Limpopo to George,” says Maybe of the ways in which they have added valuable pieces to those accumulated by Rodan over the 10 years that he’s been collecting furniture. “The only new things we have are the rug in the living room, some teaspoons and a set of glasses.”
While Maybe’s attraction is towards soft, organic forms and textures, Rodan finds appeal in a sharper urban and industrial aesthetic, evident in the clean-lined art pieces he fashions out of metal. “Somehow, things that shouldn’t go together end up working; they start creating a language,” he says. At times, it’s a matter of reupholstering a sofa in a textured fabric to make it suitable, or painting a wall a different colour. “If a piece resonates with us, we buy it and we make it work,” says Maybe, pointing to a sorbet-coloured tapestry acquired online for R350, which hangs near two plush leather seats by Brazilian modernist Percival Lafer.
They opened their home to the public in February with an exhibition called “Apartment Vol. 1”, a fringe event to the Cape Town Art Fair. And based on this successful transformation of the sixth floor into an apartment and gallery, the Lemkus family offered them the Exchange’s fourth floor to transform. What emerged is THEFOURTH – a hybrid between an art gallery and design showroom, with a concept store and a private bar, also available for hosting private events. It launched in September with “Apartment Vol. 2”, exhibiting pieces by mid-career and emerging local artists alongside local and international mid-century and contemporary design. “It’s our way of breaking down the barriers of display so that art can be less intimidating,” says Maybe.
Together with the Lemkus family, the couple will soon be turning the fifth storey into a design agency, further welcoming creative energy into the building. “These are all spaces in which stories and experiences can unfold,” says Rodan. “Even in our apartment, we curate these little moments as signifiers of a lived experience. And it’s constantly evolving.”
THEFOURTH is open by appointment only.