Voltaire reckoned that originality is nothing but judicious imitation. I wondered a little at that when I looked up to see something rather odd in the distance. A roof that stood out amongst the roofs of Skopje. Closer investigation revealed something that would be at home in Gaudí’s Barcelona but with an address on Luj Paster Str in Skopje.
The architect, who is known in Skopje simply as Roger, seems a tad eccentric. He has a fondness for vintage cars and likes a little bling – at least in his decor. Apparently he inherited the family home and he lives in the top floor flat while his sister lives underneath. An outside lift gets him home. A inscription above the door asserts his creative rights and claims responsibility and ownership for all the work involved. Quite amazing.
Then I heard that he also had a restaurant outside the city and that, of course, had to be seen as well. It stands in a field by the side of the road, its isolation adding to its oddness. The security guard was kind enough to show us around. And though the outside should well have prepared me for what lay inside, it didn’t. Mad garish colours, Swaroksvi crystals, intricate wrought iron, black and white marble all meshed together in a riot of something that brought a whole new meaning to the word fantastic.
The top table was set up for a wedding. A massive chandelier with individual crystals set the cash register in my mind into overdrive. Everywhere I looked shapes and colours and forms vied for attention. I wavered between hating it and loving it. I started to wonder what type of people got married here – those who were flash to the point of being ostentatious? Perhaps brides who belonged in a Disney movie? Or those who favoured the Catalan artists Gaudí and Dalí? I wasn’t quite sure.
The outside is just as curious. Statues pops their heads out of the hedgerow at measured intervals. The walls are set with mosaic portraits of famous musicians, presumably those for whom Roger has a fondness. It’s all quite strange, quite peculiar, and in an odd way, quite refreshing. In a world where sameness has become the norm, where mass production and globalisation ensure that our high street shops are the faithfully reproduced no matter what city in Europe we’re in, where conformity is the password to survival, I’m grateful that there are people like Roger who insist on leaving their individual mark on the world. I’m grateful that some people still dare to be different, regardless of what Joe Public has to say. And that confident in their own likes and taste, they stay true to who they are.
English poet, Dame Edith Sitwell, put it so: ‘Eccentricity is not, as dull people would have us believe, a form of madness. It is often a kind of innocent pride, and the man of genius and the aristocrat are frequently regarded as eccentrics because genius and aristocrat are entirely unafraid of an uninfluenced by the opinions and vagaries of the crowd.’
Here’s to you, Roger. ви благодариме.