On the upper floors of a 60s Bauhaus-inspired block of flats, which overlook the Company Gardens and are just a short walk away from Long Street’s nightlife, is Aidan Bennetts’ 48m² studio apartment.
Standing at the door you’re able to take everything in at a glance: solid oak floor, metro tiles and Caeserstone in the kitchen, muted tones on the walls, and then there’s the furniture and accessories, all of which have Aidan’s name on them. Literally. Custom mirror, cardboard chandelier, flatpack desk, tree-trunk pedestal, raw hide leather sofa chairs, woven carpet… all Aidan Bennetts designs.
While studying art at Michaelis he discovered that he could pay his tuition by making furniture for people. He started getting more commissions to do this sort of thing and kept pushing until his furniture had become product design and a more practical application of his art.
The small space celebrates raw elements in their natural state, textures that invite you to touch and items that pay homage to their materials. Visual clues hint at what type of man lives here: the pitch-black single-speed bicycle hanging from a rack and in contrast to the feature wall clad in white polystyrene blocks, vases from Hong Kong, a Marcel Duchamp print, large format coffee table books on art and design, wood carvings from his travels in the East…
“Fourty-eight square metres
is pretty small, so the thought process was to maximise the space.
I enjoy a ‘less is more’ approach,
so I’ve pared things down and tried not to fall into the trap of clutter, limiting my possessions
to the essentials.”
There isn’t much storage available, but some clever tricks solved that – he’s maximised the space under the bed, pushed the kitchen cupboards right up to the ceiling (and adds a stool so you can access them), a sliding door that reveals a medicine cabinet when the bathroom door is closed, and a wardrobe is hidden behind floor-to-ceiling mirrors.
Taking a cue from the fashion world, people now see dressing their homes up as important as dressing themselves. Bennetts has always enjoyed a DIY approach and has made this his business.
“From a DIY point of view I get a lot of enjoyment from the process. The satisfaction of completing a project is huge. Not only is it cheaper than paying someone else to come in, there’s also the bragging rights and sense of ownership in doing something yourself. But hey, if you don’t enjoy doing it, that’s fine, pay me to do it, keep the economy going.”
Right now Bennetts is doing just that, working on a hotel, a clothing store, as well as servicing private clients.
* Words by Dylan Muhlenberg
Photograph: Adriaan Louw