Florian Gast and Barbara Lenhard first crossed paths with Intergate some nine years ago when they made the decision to emigrate to South Africa.
They have achieved something quite incredible during their near decade in Cape Town, it’s more than just a business they have built but rather an institution and well-known brand.
We are talking about the Opulent Living Concept Store & Gallery at 24 Kloof Street. Opulent Living’s progress has been remarkable as we have watched it grow from the leading bi-annual coffee table magazine in South Africa. It now includes Opulent Living Online with articles and posts around the finer things in life, Opulent Living Travel, a bespoke travel division – and the Concept Store & Gallery.
But let’s hear from Florian himself and his time in South Africa about the vision that has brought the brand Opulent Living to life:
So Florian, nine years now, let’s start by asking if you are still enjoying life in Cape Town?
Very much so. I think we all know, there are challenges and making a living in any city is not easy but in general Cape Town is still THE city for me to live in.
Tell us about Opulent Living – what was the vision behind and what’s it become today?
First and foremost we always wanted to showcase the beauty and extraordinary talent South Africa has to offer. Opulent Living Magazine showcased for more than seven years luxury items, once in a lifetime experiences as well as the most beautiful hotels and lodges to a predominantly international audience.
The next step was Opulent Living Travel which is now running for seven years. Our dedicated travel team plans and books bespoke journeys into South and Southern Africa for customers who are looking for memorable experiences.
Opulent Living has also made an impact with various large events, once again showcasing the best the country has to offer. ‘Chefs who Share – the ART of giving’ and ‘Valentine under the STARS’ are two events I’d like to mention. We just love bringing people together and we believe in visions.
Our last venture was 18 months ago opening the Opulent Living Concept Store & Gallery where visitors and locals alike find contemporary art and beautiful products mainly from South Africa. In our emerald green space on 24 Kloof Street you can buy and take home what we curate under the tagline ‘the finer things in life’.
One of our shareholders, Stuart, was at the Opulent Living Concept Store & Gallery the other evening at a launch of new work by Richard Scott. How did you get so involved in the local art business?
The one event I mentioned, ‘Chefs who share – the ART of giving’, was a huge nationwide fundraiser for years in a row. Apart from bringing together 14 exceptional chefs – including Michelin Star chefs from Europe – the art auction was an important part of the concept. Some of South Africa’s best artists donated works for this charity gala and Richard was always one of them. When we opened the gallery, it was logical for us to ask the artists we got to know very well to work together. By the way: the art launched on that evening by Richard Scott, called ‘My Cape Town Girls’, is exclusively available at our gallery and a great homage to the Mother City!
Opulent Living expanded its offering greatly, can you just run us through some of the brands and what they offer?
Well, currently we are working with over 50 different artists, designers and companies who we chose to work with – but let me name a few: On the art side there are works from Corné Eksteen, Bonnie Walters, Sizwe Khoza, Justice Mathonsi, Ramarutha Makoba, Marieke Prinsloo-Rowe, John Francis Gardner, Solly Smook – and Richard Soctt.
In terms of lifestyle we are proud to present and sell exceptional items such as The Legacy Collection (jewellery made out of the original prison fence from Robben Island), jewellery by Beryl Dingemans and Penny Winter, Kaftans by Resort and MC Davidian and – brand new and exclusive with us – a unique handbag collection with a twist: Coco d’Afrique. The twist is that the handles and closing flap can be exchanged and swapped to different colours; Barbara and myself are always keen on finding the best product for our customers.
Running a business is never easy, but the challenges you face in doing so in a new country make it even harder. What are the biggest challenges you have faced?
Big challenges have been banks! There are lots of things which are different to Germany and opening a bank account as a foreigner is quite a mission. But – we made it!
Definitely plan well ahead – don’t make it a spontaneous decision because you are having a great holiday. Get the advice from experts like Intergate. They help you to figure out the challenges you might face and also know the rules and regulations you are going to deal with. It simply makes your life easier.
As you know Florian, Intergate assist thousands of families a year to emigrate to South Africa and begin a new chapter in their lives. How can Opulent Living help our clients to build and settle into their new environment?
Nice question 🙂 We definitely can assist with fabulous art to decorate the new home and with a lot of décor items for some special touches.
Quite a few ‘new arrivals’ also use our travel services to see more of South Africa and Southern Africa. May it be a classical safari, seeing the Victoria Falls or a beach holiday in Mozambique – or team and I are here to assist and often such a trip helps families and couples to feel the African spirit and to feel home in this amazing country.
So what are your plans for the near future?
We are busy with a concept called ‘The Travelling Art Gallery’ where we will take contemporary South African art to Germany to showcase it in various cities in pop-up spaces.
If there is any company who wants to come on board as a sponsor – unfortunately, it will not be possible without – please contact us!
Experience Opulent Living…
If you have not been at Opulent Living or visited their website we can thoroughly recommend you do.
The Concept Store & Gallery itself is at 24 Kloof Street, Cape Town.
Their website address is www.opulentliving.co.za and you can call them on +27 (0)21 422 3191 or email firstname.lastname@example.org