Editor's note – Volume 6 (Explore)
A whole new world
‘NY I LOVE YOU!’
Charl channeling his inner Bill Cunningham while on the streets of New York City, captured by Mary Holland.
The idea for this issue came about in Matjiesfontein, of all places. Growing up, it was always this town, along the N1 in the middle of nowhere (well actually somewhere really special in the beautiful Great Karoo!), that we’d stop at en route to Johannesburg. This one-horse kinda town and its iconic hotel hold a special place in my heart: My granny was a school teacher there in the 1940s and she lived in the first cottage as you enter the teeny tiny town – if you’ve been, and know the place, you’ll know how special this fact is. Its famous bar is also the spot where my parents got engaged (cheers to that!). And in the years following, we’ve spent quite a few weekends there for birthday celebrations. You get the picture ; )
So, fast forward to 2021, while working on the relaunch issue of this title, I found myself there yet again for my birthday (my partner Carl’s treat to me for my special day). Waking up one morning, and inspecting the decor as I usually do when I’m traveling, I thought out loud ‘why has the World of Interiors not featured this place? It’s got WOI written all over it’, to which Carl wrily responded ‘but YOU can!’. True that. And that’s just what we did! Even though it would take us more than a year to get back there again for a feature (see p90), his comment, and the hotel itself, sparked the theme for this volume that you’re reading right now. This is our ‘hotel issue’ reframed as one of our seasonal themes, which we’ve called ‘Explore’.
More hotels soon followed, and before we knew it we had carefully curated a mix of hotels spanning the globe, from Paris to Basel, Bali to Mexico, Miami to Marrakesh and beyond! It’s a round-up of stays; a mix of new and iconic, modern and old-world, each with their own characteristic style, making them all unique in their own right, all delicious discoveries!
As the magical images started flowing in for all of the spaces, we came to think of each hotel as the setting of a short story or film (a song, for some), so we briefed our writers to sketch the scene for each place with a cinematic filter in mind, creating mini scenarios to tease each space: Amelie makes an appearance in our Paris hotel on p100, while 007 pops up in Basel on p118. And so too does Wes Anderson – multiple times throughout the entire issue – from Dorp Hotel on p30, to Camp Canoe on p84, as well as the inspiration for The Oyster Box hotel shoot (p174) and cover (notice our homage to #accidentallywesanderson?). I bet you can tell we really enjoyed crafting this issue, literally an exploration of crazy ideas and stories, jam-packed into one.
And just one last crazy (yet special) story about Matjiesfontein… I took my mom, Myrtle, along for our shoot (not usually something I tend to do), but how could I resist, especially considering her ties to the town? Following us around the expansive hotel property – with her basket of knitware and cup of tea in tow, chatting away to all of the hotel guests – my proud mamma took on the role of shoot mascot to all, also making sure her son actually did his job (thanks mom!). We cheekily gave her the title of House and Leisure Mom-in- Chief, overseeing our well-being on set.
This wonderful experience reminded me how lucky I am to explore the spaces we see while shooting for House and Leisure, and for the people we get to meet and spend time with on our travels. Across three magical days with photographer Inge Prins (another favourite human of mine, who’s connection to this town is another story in itself!), we captured a space from a bygone era, to kick off an issue celebrating styles from around the globe, but most importantly, to celebrate the stories and the people that brought these spots to life.
If you’re not able to travel to these places, we hope that the pages of this issue will do the trick – happy armchair traveling! Until summer, when we see you again for Vol. 7 : Relax : )