The Club of Caviar & Collaboration
QSL Members Club
Cigars. Brandy. Brown leather. And the smell of exclusivity. This is most likely the stereotype that pops into your head when you think of a members’ club – but all that’s about to change, if Ronald Ndoro and Rahim Rawjee have their way.
The duo have conceptualised a new type of club, as far from the stuffy traditional gentleman’s venue as could be. Indeed, when QSL Members Club opens its doors in October, it will be to people who have a desire to collaborate and co-create.
AN AUSPICIOUS MEETING
Rawjee explains that the idea started taking shape when he and Ndoro met at a wedding two years ago. As the force behind Library Covent Garden, Ndoro had already started on his path of creating unique spaces where like-minded individuals could form communities. He was busy negotiating the establishment of his next venture in New York, when Rawjee showed him premises he had already secured in Milpark, Johannesburg. “We decided why New York? We are all African. This is the perfect place for a private members’ club.”
Rawjee’s confidence is interesting, given that – with the exception of establishments like The Rand Club – the private members’ club isn’t exactly
a thriving phenomenon in Africa. Fair enough, he allows, but adds that the continent has seen nothing quite like QSL, either. “If Starbucks, the Four Seasons, Mesh Club, the Slow Lounge and a gym had a baby, this would be it!” he says.
ALL THE BELLS AND WHISTLES
Indeed, the club’s planned amenities read like a description of the world’s finest hotels. Members will have access to a 24hour concierge, and can stay overnight in one of 32 bedrooms. They can while away the hours in the lounge, take a dip in the pool, take in a movie at the cinema, indulge in cocktails at the champagne bar, order a suit at the bespoke tailor, or buy one at one of several “artisanal retail” outlets. They can also get some work done in designated meeting rooms, or host a conference – perhaps even stage an event. And, maybe best of all, they can enjoy food prepared by a Michelin-starred chef at one of three restaurants.
All of this is very nice, but Rawjee insists that QSL’s raison d’être isn’t simply providing an aesthetically pleasing place where people can relax away from home or the office. “It’s all about bringing people together,” he says. “We’re looking to create a community of designers, artists, athletes, bankers – people who perhaps wouldn’t ordinarily find themselves mingling, but who are united by a common interest: exploring.”
Rawjee insists that QSL’s raison d’être isn’t simply providing an aesthetically pleasing place where people can relax away from home or the office. “It’s all about bringing people together,” he says.
A MEETING OF MINDS
Whether that’s exploring personal growth or opportunities is up to the individual but, as Rawjee says, neither is likely to happen in our modern environment unless there is collaboration, and this is precisely what QSL seeks to foster. “The location of the Club at the foothills of Johannesburg’s cultural precinct – with the Johannesburg Art Gallery and the Market Theatre close by – is crucial in this regard,” he explains. “It allows us to attract a less homogenous crowd than you’d find in the business districts. Plus, it’s in the dead centre of Johannesburg. This means that it’s accessible to people of different cultures, viewpoints and environments. It’s about plurality and inclusiveness.”
And this, in turn, means that there will be some very interesting conversations taking place between QSL’s walls.
GOOD FOOD MAKES GOOD FRIENDS
The fact that the people having these conversations are ensconced in luxury is a happy plus. In some ways, it’s inevitable, given Rawjee’s background as the creative force behind couture atelier Row G. And it’s also undeniable – particularly in the culinary area of the Club.
Daniel Galmiche, the Michelin-starred chef who made his name at 190 Queen’s Gate in London, explains that food is one of the Club’s major attractions.
Members will have a choice of three dining options, from fine-dining to African fusion and bistro fare. What’s on the menu? Although Galmiche will give a nod to South Africans’ love of meat with game dishes, he says that seafood is his first love – which means that there will be loads of fresh fish options, often with a Mediterranean accent. Ingredients will be seasonal, with a great emphasis on local producers and sustainability.
Rawjee expects QSL to become a home for between 1,500 and 3,000
members – ideally, an equal mix between South African, African and global citizens.
“The idea here is to take Africa forward. This is a space that champions thought,” Rawjee concludes.
And if thought gives rise to change, then this private club could be the birthplace of a true African Renaissance.
Membership fees start at R10,000 a year. Corporate and spouse memberships are also available. For more information, visit qsl-sa.com.
First Page: Ronald Ndoro is not new to the idea of members’ clubs - he was the force behind Library Covent Garden in LondonSecond Page: Artist impressions of what QSL Members Club will look like when it is unveiled in OctoberThird Page: Rahim Rawjee (Left) and Ronald Ndoro (Right) plan to make QSL Members Club a place where like-minded individuals can interact and create communities