We asked Julie Hatchuel from We Are Cape Town about the Paris exhibition that she has curated in association with Artlogic.
What inspired this exhibition? I moved to South Africa three years ago with the idea of connecting Europe and South Africa and so helping European companies, brands and designers to be in SA. When the Rand became so weak, I started thinking about working the other way, and helping South African companies and brands to export their products and so starting promoting the country abroad. I am so in love with South Africa that it was quite easy for me to convince my contact in Europe to start this beautiful adventure. I went to see the director of the BHV Marais, with my French partner, Gerard Laffargue, and we agreed on this beautiful event to showcase to all the Frenchies, the best of South Africa and what is really South Africa now: a young country full of creativity, colours and talents.
Why do you think South African-made design has such appeal internationally? In Europe we have so many things but at the end everything looks quite the same. We are all looking for new inspirations and different products. South African products are completely new, unique and inspiring. This is exactly what we need at the moment especially because of all the joy coming out of these products.
Does our exchange rate play a favourable role or is it about great design and quality craft? Of course. The brands will have to start to understand how a wholesale price is working to be really attractive to the retailers but this is also why I am doing all this. I really want to help all the makers in these processes. They will have to learn how the European market is working, and how export is working.
What response have you had to the exhibition so far? It’s such a great success. I’m blessed and extremely happy. And this is just the beginning. We are planning on doing this in different cities of Europe and the world each year.
Do you think some retail buyers will be joining the consumers at the exhibition? Yes, this is part of my job.
Is there one category in particular that appeals: Jewellery, ceramics, homeware? I am a huge fan of ceramics. but I’ve done 100% of the curation, so I am not going to lie; everything you will find there is what I love and what I am believing in.
Why is craft enjoying such a revival in general? Because we all need to come to basics sometimes: This feeling of unique pieces thanks to small productions and small quantities. And you know at the end imperfections are so much more interesting than perfections.
Some say Craft is the new luxury. Would you agree? For me luxury is mobility. With what I am doing with this exhibition, I am helping these brands to go and be everywhere. So yes, part of luxury is having a product coming from the other side of the world.
Who, globally, do you think is doing handmade craft particularly well? The African continent has a lot to offer - South Africa especially, of course. I’ve also lived in India for a while and India is an amazing source of craft and creativity too. South America is also amazing but so difficult to work with.
Can you identify some designers, South African and from other countries, who are making their mark in the craft world? RialHeim and Vorster & Braye for the ceramics , Ninevites & Fabrica for the rugs, Ashanti & Mia Melange for the baskets and homeware. Laduma for the fashion. Pichulik for the jewellery. More and more are coming in my mind but you should simply come to the store to discover everything.