The fact that Mathew and Melissa Kieser’s charming two-bedroom, 80-square-metre apartment in Sea Point needed not one alteration – bar a fresh coat of white wall paint – was a serious coup, considering it’s in a 1920s Art-Deco heritage block. They had been looking for a place to buy for three months while living in Durban, and nothing matched their taste or price range. ‘We saw the ad for this flat pop up one evening and phoned the agent. I flew down the next morning, loved it and signed on the dotted line, which was lucky – two months later the agent called and said they’d made a mistake with the selling price. It should’ve been much more,’ says Mathew with a broad smile.
With the Woodstock opening in July last year of Corner Store CPT – a collaborative retail space involving Mathew’s menswear label Sol-Sol and two of Cape Town’s finest streetwear brands, 2Bop and Young and Lazy – the couple relocated to the Mother City with their rabbits, Sophie and Harry. That they found their dream home in one of Cape Town’s most sought-after neighbourhoods is unsurprising; this pair have that effortless ‘cool things happen to cool people’ vibe about them.
Mat and Mel, a fashion consultant, pretty much moved straight into the Scandi-style apartment with its high ceilings, original timber floors, Amélie-type balcony and contemporary kitchen, all washed in masses of natural light. ‘For years we were hooked on the NYC raw-brick look – and we both still really like it – but for now the clean Japanese/Scandinavian aesthetic is our favourite,’ says Mathew.
It’s clear that theirs is a perfect synergy of tastes and styles: masculine and feminine, vintage and street, vacant nodes and busy tableaux – and that’s not to mention the apartment’s location in the contrasting and cosmopolitan neighbourhood on the Atlantic Seaboard. ‘Although we’re both in fashion, our decorating style isn’t so much influenced by our clothing style as by great design. We draw a lot of inspiration from retail spaces and the principles of their design, such as the use of negative space, contrasting colour with “noncolour”, and juxtaposing bare and busy areas.’
Once past the elegant black and white interiors, a seemingly neutral and easy canvas, Mat and Mel’s taste is undeniably striking and indicative of a multitude of global influences. The couple travel frequently thanks to their work in the clothing industry (Tokyo and New York being regular destinations). This is evident in subtle hints of urban youth and street culture peeking through the Chanel-esque palette. Two sidetables that double as stools appear to be decidedly Mid-century Modern but are actually repurposed skateboards made by Mathew’s brother, Jared, as a wedding gift. Titled ‘In Siffness and in Health’, they play on traditional wedding vows and are favourites of theirs. Then there is an old chair rescued by Mel and given a new life: ‘We both really love that chair and still argue over who chose the mustard-coloured upholstery,’ says Mathew. Armchairs covered with a graphic fabric by Skinny laMinx frame the dramatic glossy black fireplace next to a shelf filled with an army of the quintessential Millennial collector’s items: emo-robotic Kaws and futuristic Bearbrick figurines.
‘When we were in our twenties our taste was all over the place, but I think we’ve matured a lot and will keep this look for quite some time,’ Mathew says. Even if they don’t, we’ll be watching to see what comes next. sol-solmenswear.com
Originally published in HL March 2016