Women in Design: Meet Kare’s Karin Cawthorne
KARE Design is well known for its quirky take on contemporary furniture and decor. Their latest pieces and seasonal finds will easily put a smile on your dial. We caught up with the very first owner of KARE Design in South Africa, Karin Cawthorne. We wanted to know everything about this superwoman behind the brand…
Tell us your background before bringing KARE in South Africa.
I started in retail almost 28 years ago with Vodacom, which was a great learning school in terms of setting up a business, basic retail skills and customer service. Design and décor have always been my passion; from a very early age I was fascinated with interiors, architecture, colour and the thought process behind putting it all together. I decided to open the first KARE store in South Africa when I scaled down with my Vodacom businesses, and it was one of my best decisions ever!
KARE may be new in South Africa, but its global presence has been around for some time. Can you tell us more about the history of this brand?
KARE was founded 40 years ago by Jürgen Reiter and Peter Schönhofen, who still remain the CEO’s to this day. Ever since 1981 KARE has been surprising its fans and retail partners worldwide with an incomparable and inexhaustible variety of new furniture, lighting and furnishing accessories, all expressing an intense passion for design. This include fascinating discoveries from obscure artisan workshops and slightly crazy, but unique pieces of furniture with our ‘wow’ effect, not to mention lovingly crafted solid wood furniture that will be cherished for a lifetime.
There are more than 200 KARE brand stores and over 2000 KARE trade customers worldwide. KARE Design GmbH is a private company with international operations in the fields of furniture, lighting and furnishing accessories. As a franchisor, wholesaler, retailer, shop-in-shop operator, contract furnishing business and trendsetter in interior decoration, KARE has registered uninterrupted growth since the time it was founded.
With a brand on the cutting edge of design, what inspires you personally?
Beautifully designed buildings, unexpected colour combinations and imaginative designs have always invoked feelings of passion and happiness for me. Our surroundings play such an important role in our wellbeing and emotional health, and it inspires me daily how the simplest design or most colourful interior can create an entire mood/ I’m also inspired by strong, powerful women who take on the world everyday – unafraid and strong!
What’s the significance and meaning behind KARE Design?
The KARE brand symbolises furnishing ideas which are unique, non-conformist and authentic – never boring and always full of imagination and inspiration!
You have a vast portfolio. What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of what we’ve achieved as a team since opening KARE Johannesburg 3 years ago. It’s been a process of learning and experimenting as we went along, but it’s been an amazing one!
Do you have any new, exciting pieces that you have recently launched or anything in the pipeline?
Our Ravello and Bellami ranges are stunning, and the new Luxury range of black mirrored glass pieces is absolutely mind-blowing!
I know very few of us are travelling right now, but if you could, where would you go?
I’m travelling to Germany in September, and I can’t wait to go back to Singapore when they allow visitors again.
What are your current favourite restaurants/shops?
Barazza Restaurant in Bryanston has always been a favourite. It’s a small, owner operated restaurant with the best food and service. I’m sure as with most of us, online shopping is now a much bigger “thing” than it used to be, and my favourites are Zara and Superbalist. I’m a huge supporter of couch shopping!
What’s your personal motto?
“This too shall pass”. I’ve always believed this – nothing is too big for us to overcome, no matter how daunting it looks at first.
A place you visited to unwind in Africa?
Zanzibar and Morocco – both beautiful and inspiring.
To find out more about KARE Design and to shop their exquisite interior finds, visit the website at KARE.