Jason Kempen, creative director and co-owner at Cape Town design agency Fountainhead Design, is the first to admit that his home is very art directed and that he has ‘a thing for tableaus’. On entering his 13th-floor apartment in the CBD, you can’t help but marvel at how well everything fits together and, on closer inspection, how beautiful and detailed each of these ‘things’ is. Then, of course, there is the view, framed by floor-to-ceiling glass windows and sliding doors, looking down at the cityscape, the harbour and beyond – this panorama, for many, a masterpiece in itself. The strange thing is, you only get to appreciate it once your eyes and mind have fully absorbed the visually arresting composition of the apartment’s interiors and colourful, eye-catching works of art.
Jason has moved house many times in the past decade and, when home hunting eight months ago, there were a few clinchers that were pertinent. ‘I was impressed with the quality finishes and vast living space of this apartment; you don’t find that in many blocks in the City Bowl,’ says Jason. ‘I also liked the fact that the kitchen was huge and had a separate scullery as I enjoy cooking and entertaining.’ On moving in he also made a lifestyle shift and now walks everywhere. ‘Everything is so close and I love the energy and buzz of city living,’ he adds.
As a creative director and graphic specialist, Jason’s work is all-consuming due to the fact that every day he is bombarded with visual stimulation, its culture as well as its various discourses. On the one hand his vocation has informed how he has curated his living space but on the other he’s very conscious of how his home contrasts the simplicity of his work output. ‘I spend my days in the world of graphics and design, what I like to call “commercial art”, where I have a deep appreciation of colour, aesthetics, composition, meaning and context,’ he explains. ‘When it comes to the work I produce it’s all about simplicity, clean lines and minimalism, but these values are the domain of the office, not my home.’
From second-hand, reupholstered armchairs and nesting tables to personal mementos and family photographs as well as his vast collection of design books and magazines – all of which have travelled with him since his student days – and some designer pieces such as the Charles and Ray Eames set of six armchairs, Jason describes his interior arsenal as fulfilling his ‘magpie tendencies’. However it’s the bright, emotive and, in some instances, cheeky artwork that synergises the diversity of the decor pieces with the slick finishes. ‘Because I work in a field in which everything has meaning I struggle with the notion of nonfigurative art,’ Jason adds. ‘I have an insatiable appetite for anything visual and believe that many things are worthy of merit outside of the realm of “high art”.’ With a preference for photorealism, photography and illustration, many of the standout pieces are by up-and-coming local artists such as Matthew Hindley, Kirsten Lilford and Michael Taylor. There is a series of attractive monochrome graphic posters by fashion photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin bought at Foam, a gallery in Amsterdam. Then there are the more quirky elements such as his collection of celebrity figurines by German design company eBoy for Kidrobot, as well as a few collector’s item vinyl toys.
When buying art Jason doesn’t get too caught up in the gravitas of it all. ‘I want to be able to change things around and not feel obliged to display something because I’ve invested so much in it. That’s why I love my displayed collection of toys, which remind me not to take life too seriously!’ he adds with a smile.
This article was originally featured in the April 2013 issue of House and Leisure.
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