Art Interview South Africa

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    #AfricaMonth: Walter Train brings his unique design aesthetic to Emazulwini restaurant

    Emazulwini restaurant at Makers Landing at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town is a modern Zulu-inspired restaurant which seeks to celebrate Nguni cuisine and South African ingredients through a 21st-century fine-dining lens. The restaurant's dockside location has been transformed, with pared-back neutral tones brought to vivid life with the use of bold blues and reds, and beautiful and unique furniture and lighting by local designers.
    Image supplied
    Image supplied

    The gorgeous new space, which has become a stage for a developing South African aesthetic that pays respect to its heritage while charting the way forward in global style, is the result of a collaboration between Clout/SA, a purpose-driven creative agency and business-to-business market maker, and young interior designer Walter Train.

    Train, whose practice is informed by his own diverse heritage, describes his work as sitting at the intersection of two seemingly disparate worlds: one an Nguni upbringing rooted in family and culture, the other a western lineage intimately part of his birth.

    We chat to Walter Train, to find out more about his journey...

    When did your passion for design start?

    It started at a very young age. I remember as a young boy correcting my mom on a colour being not blue but turquoise. I think from that moment they knew I would be in something artistic or creative. My passion for design really developed when I studied architecture and during my time at design school, where I learnt about all the famous architects and furniture designers around the world.

    How did you get into interior design?

    From studying architecture, I wanted to take my knowledge of the built environment and translate it into interior design. The two worlds are very contrasted but also very similar. I like the relationship between the two, in which the architecture and interior of a space speak as one cohesive language.

    When was that moment you decided to make interior design your life mission?

    After going to the Salone del Mobile, the Milan Furniture Fair, I was really exposed to how much bigger design can be. Seeing the best of the best in the industry and the possibilities in interior design was really inspiring.

    What was that feeling like?

    Excitement, and feeling like a student again, realising how little I know and how much I have to learn. Design and its ideologies are always changing, which is the great thing about it. I’m a believer in the notion that we are lifelong learners.

    How would you describe your design aesthetic?

    I like a modern minimal aesthetic with vintage and classic moments. The juxtaposition between old and new is always interesting. In a word, my design aesthetic would be ‘unique’. I guess I am always learning something new about myself and my design aesthetic through each project. I like to push the boundaries - I feel creativity has no borders, so my design aesthetic should be the same. If you walk into a space and feel excited, uplifted or happy, then I’ve done my job.

    Where do you draw your inspiration from?

    People and the environment, the environment around the project or culture, and the story of the patrons who use the space - those things will guide the design solution, the solution also being the moment of inspiration.

    Image supplied
    Image supplied

    What project are you most proud of?

    A conceptual restaurant project I did for a client in Riebeek Kasteel – we produced a really elevated design in the space, mixing the modern framework with classic elements. The restaurant in Makers Landing at the V&A Waterfront, Emazulweni, is also up there - the space really turned out beautifully, bold as well as fun.

    Have you tried any of the dishes at Emazulwini? What's your favourite?

    I’ve tried all of them. I think they are all fantastic!

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