The Club of Caviar & Col­lab­o­ra­tion

QSL Mem­bers Club

Indwe - - Contents - Text: Lisa Witep­ski Images © Supplied

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 London

Sec­ond Page: Artist im­pres­sions of what QSL Mem­bers Club will look like when it is un­veiled in Oc­to­ber

Third 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

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