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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

OUTDOOR LIVING (article first published : 2002-06-8)

As bureau chief for House and Leisure Annemarie Meintjies generates ideas for living. Karen Roos developed her sense of style as a fashion editor at Cosmopolitan and at Glamour in New York. Together with gifted photographer Massimo Cecconi, they have founded Red magazine. With text by Laurian Brown, the book Outdoor Living seems to flow naturally from their combined experience.

Now, more than ever, every home needs a room beyond its four walls, entirely removed from technology. By spending time outside, we actually win time and restore breathing space in an increasingly pressurised world. Photographed in South Africa but with universal trends, Outdoor Living attempts to get us out of our homes and into outside rooms which serve as magical retreats.

South Africa’s climate makes it irresistible, if not compulsory, to change windows into doors. Dealing with the room outside, we are treated to a view of the traditional stoep, the courtyard and a rooftop retreat.

For stressed city dwellers the authors conjure up a small forest of birches in a city garden with a simple stone bench where you can recharge your batteries in solitude. Or choose a tree-house or a deceptively easy-to-devise outside shower.

South Africans like to entertain and for this reason the book also takes us on a journey to various swimming pools in elegant settings. Add to this the charm of an elegantly laid table under the stars and you will be forgiven for staring longingly at some of the magnificent photographs in this inspirational book.

I especially liked the section on kitchen gardens, while the potted gardens offered a new perspective on decorating. Square galvanised pots planted with silvery blue Festuca grass make an elegant cubist trio, while paired topiaries make entrances inviting and hint at charm within.

Our appreciation of outdoor space is hugely enhanced by the way we frame and measure it. Massimo Cecconi’s photographs accentuate the arches, arbours and ornaments used as connecting devices linking us to a wider view. The authors also explore textures and patterns and dramatic detail photographs illustrate their point.

No matter where you live, this book will give you ideas to turn your outdoor living experience into a style adventure. You do not have to spend thousands of rands to get the desired effect, sometimes a small adjustment or change of focus will do the trick. If you are one of those people who is stuck in a flat with simply no view, then the book will provide that view through the magnificent photographs.

This hard cover book is published by STRUIK and retails at R139.95. – Hendrik Baird




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