A cosmopolitan or world citizen is who, exactly? Someone who’s less troubled by the borders of anything? More okay with what goes on everywhere, in other places as much as here? The concept preoccupies me as I clamber up, down and around this old hotel.
When it was built in 1902, Johannesburg was a town, but when the hotel was renamed from Schlom’s, it had been proclaimed a city and so probably came the name. The Lion Bar here, with its beautiful carved lions, was not called after our wild animals, but instead when Charles Glass, who had the bar here, died, his fans named the pub after his lager.
Today it’s a pub restaurant, run by Dario d’Angelo of Cube. It opens into a courtyard and suddenly I’m in an outdoor gallery with its curator, Jonathan Freemantle. The garden, landscaped from a parking lot, has been laid out as a garden at the turn of the previous century. Little Victorian cottages edge the garden and are being restored. I meet Nash in his new roastery, Firebird.
The roastery décor is cactuses in pots – unusual, yes. So is Nash. So are Jonathan and Daniel, without whom The Cosmopolitan may have missed its new mark in a world city. The latter are the men behind Hazard Gallery, which is behind what’s happening now at The Cosmopolitan. Daniel is sibling to another Jonathan, Liebmann, the one behind Maboneng itself.
Fashion designer, cobbler, economist and retail curator, Daniel recently hooked up with Jonathan Freemantle, artist, curator and co-founder of the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival. Wooden staircases lead up front, but I go up the back metal stairs. Here’s Mikhailia in a perfumery-millinery.
The noses on the walls relate to SA perfumery House of Godzawa. Not far down the narrow passage is Jody, leather-collared, open-faced, busy with Threads, an emporium of artisanally beautiful jewellery and accessories. There’s more and more, including Hazard itself. But I’m thinking of people like Daniel and Nash and Jonathan and Mikhailia and Jody, who are world citizens, exactly.