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Celebrating Women: Let’s Meet Karin Cawthorne From Kare Design

This August we’re celebrating Women’s Month in South Africa and we’re thrilled to shine a spotlight on some amazing women doing great things in the design industry. Today, we hear from Karin Cawthorne, franchise owner of Kare Design Johannesburg. Karin shares her love of beautiful furniture and the latest Kare trends…

How would you describe your personal style? 

A bit eclectic and left-of-centre. I strongly believe that one’s personal style should be expressed in your home, dress sense… in fact in any way you’re comfortable with.

Which qualities define your ideal choice of colours?

I love strong colours that make a statement and emphasise a mood, feeling or space. I’m not afraid to combine colours, as again, I feel it’s a personal choice that expresses YOU and what makes you happy.

What is your personal favourite colour combination?

Always black! Combined with deep orange, dark greens and greys, it sets the tone for the mood I try to achieve, whether it’s with décor, clothes, design or textiles.

What is the most recent purchase you’ve made for your home and why?

Not really a purchase, I’ve reupholstered my Art Deco lounge suite. It’s a big, sturdy set, almost 70 years old, and just needed a new “face”. Other than that, I’ve incorporated a few deco items from KARE to update the interior a bit.

Which one design element, trend or furniture item can you not live without?

Statement colours – deep greens, black, dark yellow, orange etc; a big, comfortable couch and funky crockery! It’s different ways to add interest to basic furniture, and you can change it up easily when the mood grabs you.

Which designer or design influence has had the greatest influence on your work and business?

The local designers at Design Indaba, East European & Japanese architecture, Wallpaper magazine (been reading it since I was in high school!), and anything that makes a statement and conveys a specific feeling in an original way.

What has been the most challenging part of opening KARE in South Africa?

Even though I’ve been in retail for 26 years, opening an international franchise outlet in a brand new retail line for me, was very daunting! We had to literally start from scratch – shopfitting, flooring, drywalls, plumbing & electricity, international trade & shipping; it was all brand new to me, and I had to learn so much in a very short time! But I was, and still am, passionate about the brand, and prepared to do whatever it takes to make a success of it.

How would you describe the design/decor industry in South Africa at present?

Very exciting! With COVID-19 having forced us to look at retail differently, it’s become evident that there is SO much talent in SA, and that we need to support all of it! Retail has also transitioned rapidly into the e-commerce space, and we’ve all had to rethink our entry to market. Having said that, people seem eager to change their living and working spaces, as we’ve all been confined to our homes for so long! So there’s been an uplift in retail and we’ve had many clients wanting to make big changes to their environment.

What trends do you think we should keep an eye on in upcoming seasons?

More practical living and decorating – your living space has also now become your work space in some instances, so practical pieces, such as book shelves with desk space, comfortable office chairs, beautiful dining and living spaces etc are becoming more prevalent. Also, strong colours and prints in bold colours will still be popular, as well as metallics, such as rose gold, copper & silver

What exciting projects do you have planned within the next year?

We have a few projects planned in terms of supporting charities and recycling furniture; clients will be able to bring their used furniture to the store, we’ll revamp them and donate it to charities, and clients will get a discount on a replacement piece. We will also be making KARE Johannesburg available for events. We’ve held a few dinner parties at the store, partnering with up-and-coming chefs, and we’ll continue this as it was very popular last year.

Kare Shares her Top 10 Products from Kare Design JHB

Discover more by visiting Kare Design.

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