A look at the emerging and established creatives colouring the Mother City
Cape Town’s esteemed status as World Design Capital for 2014 is proof of one central truth: this cultural city heaves with creative energy. At almost every turn, in the studios of Woodstock, the back alleys of the East City, the streets of Kalk Bay, and the corners of Claremont, there are inspiring visionaries conceptualising and crafting inventive, proudly local products in the fields of fashion, jewellery, homeware, décor, food and furniture design . And fortunately, via a myriad of trendy brick-and-mortar storefronts or virtual marketplaces, these functional or aesthetic creations are out there for everyone to enjoy.
So, to pay homage to these inspiring individuals and to keep you up to date on where to find their artful goods, we’ve crafted an overview of some of Cape Town’s finest up-and-coming and established designers, design projects and design shops and outlets (be it online or physical). As these are typically small-scale artisans working with carefully sourced local materials to create high-quality products (rather than mass-produced tat), prices can sometimes be on the steep side. But we’ve gone to extra effort to include a diverse array of more affordable options too, so that owning and appreciating local design work is an option for the everyman.
ALL UNDER ONE ROOF
Once in a while you’ll score and find a hub of boutique stores in close proximity. If you’re after an indulgent shopping experience, pop into the Cape Quarter Lifestyle Village in De Waterkant. This centre is just about as trendy as they come and houses some of the most unique little designer stores. You’ll find Scalini, a boutique store specialising in luxury European clothing, Petit Love, the ultimate luxury baby store and many more.
27 Somerset Rd | Green Point | Cape Town | email@example.com | 021 421 1111
KIN Gift Shop & Jewellery Store
Committed to growing and supporting local art and design, KIN is an energised collective comprised of over 100 passionate designers who, for the most part, manufacture their inspired creations locally, which means that from sourcing the raw materials through to the process of putting together the end product, it all takes place within Mzansi borders. The platform itself takes the form of two physical storefronts (a flagship shop on Kloof Street and an offshoot at the V&A Waterfront) and one online shop. No matter where you cruise the aisles though, at KIN you’ll find whimsical illustrations, funky and affordable jewellery, innovative laptop bags, cool free-standing ceramics, art books, handmade cards, endearing plush toys for kiddies and so much more. Not to mention, since the team behind the family is wholly devoted to the art of curation and the people behind the crafts, walking into one of the shops is a brilliant way to get a snapshot of what’s hot and new on the South African design front. In short, you’re guaranteed to find something special and distinctly Cape Town here.
99B Kloof Street | Gardens | Cape Town | +27 (0) 76 822 5786
Shop 11B Alfred Mall | V&A Waterfront | Cape Town
Ex-film colourist and avid photographer Nicki Ellis Malherbe established this contemporary, classically Capetonian range of ceramics, lights, fabric and wood products in an attempt to give her striking images a home on functional everyday objects. All locally made pieces in the selection are screen printed with personal photographs of graphic lines, shapes and forms found in nature; so, for instance, a line of ants crawls over the rim of the sleek Love Milo espresso cups, tree branches extend across the cork placemats sets, tiny black birds flutter over the edge of shiny white milk jugs, and dragonfly wings stretch across table runners. All wooden items – such as the gnarled platters and coarse plates and saucers – are hand-carved from alien trees, and all inks used are eco-friendly, so the collection is as sustainable as it is visually arresting. The Love Milo range can be bought online via Lovemilo.com (rumour has it the label will be launching a shop in Woodstock soon).
Offline Lifestyle Shop
New urban clothing and sportswear store Offline Lifestyle, located at The Promenade in Camps Bay, is all about promoting a relaxed lifestyle that goes much against the digitally connected ways of the world we find ourselves in today. This brand identity shows in the shop’s offering; shoppers can find trendy beachwear, skateboards, bodyboards, skimboards, surfboards, high quality towels, keyrings, leather jackets, bags and more! The store stocks proudly South African brands like Gunslinger, Reef, Dragon Sport and even has its own Offline apparel that works with up-and-coming designers as well as SA based manufactures to deliver products of not only a high quality, but that you won’t typically find anywhere else. One of Offline Lifestyle’s standout products are their surfboards – which come in an array of colours and styles as they allow for custom orders. So avid surfers can let their imagination run wild and let their boards serve as a canvas that can hold any sentimental and artistic image that they would like.
Supported by a talented team of local craftsmen, Cape Town-based designer Victoria Fenner is the founder of this artisan jewellery brand. With its studio based in the Southern Surburbs, JOYA produces an edgy, handcrafted, distinctly African-inspired range of bracelets, necklaces, cuffs, rings and earrings made from high-quality leather, silver and a colourful medley of semi-precious stones (think rose quartz, amethyst, rainbow jade and black onyx). Though certainly suitable for everyday wear, these statement pieces are also so striking that they’ve even been worn by several South African celebrities, like Jo-Ann Strauss and Candice Boucher. In addition to their more high-end selection, the brand has also released the highly affordable JOYA Freedom beachwear range for those looking for eye-catching but inexpensive trinkets and treasures. Though jewellery is the focus, it’s not their only speciality; the design house also sells luxurious leather bags, scarves and jewel-adorned greeting cards. And because they place value on supporting Mzansi talent, even the cotton bags used for packaging are crafted by a local township lady. JOYA products are stocked at a number of Mother City retailers and can also be viewed at their Claremont studio. What’s more, the label will soon be launching an online shop (February 2013) but until such a time, interested customers can request pieces via the JOYA Facebook page or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
9 Draper Square | Draper Street | Claremont | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 671 8934
Stockists: Journey (Long Street); Merchants on Long (Long Street); One&Only Boutique (V&A Waterfront)
Now a household name in the local homeware industry, TinTown is a small Cape Town-based design studio founded (initially in a garage) by creatives André Serfontein and Magdel van der Walt, both of whom previously held jobs in advertising and were looking to get out and create something unique to the market. As their brand’s name suggests, these designers have carefully conceptualised an eye-catching array of laser-cut metal home and garden accessories, all of which are powder coated in a range of colours – cream, red, silver and black for example – and boast intricate, whimsical designs that make the harsh material appear soft, delicate and feminine. The playful range includes furniture, tableware, mirrors, clocks, lamps, magnets, candleholders, wall hooks, cupcake stands, bookmarks and much more, as well as a few fun items that combine wood and metal. All products can be ordered online at tintown.co.za (there can be a two- to three-week waiting period), and though the studio is not a shopping space, buyers are welcome to collect their purchases from here. Otherwise, TinTown delivers in Cape Town for a minimal fee.
Stockists: Heartworks (Gardens Centre and Old Biscuit Mill); Fab Things (Newlands); Caramel & Co (Claremont)
Take Care Clothing
Launched in Cape Town in 2008 by the gifted Jessica Harwood, a former interior designer who found her niche in creating women’s wear, this sophisticated clothing line has, over time, established itself as a strong force on the local fashion scene. Take Care garments’ appeal lies in the fact that they are strikingly simple, feminine and clean-lined, come in a predominantly neutral palette (mainstays are black, white, navy and charcoal) and can be combined and layered to form eye-catching outfits; at their core, these are clothes women can feel comfortable and confident wearing every day. In addition to the more basic silk shirts, flowing skirts, pants and pretty cotton dresses, Jessica also designs a limited selection of bespoke, high-end apparel and will soon be releasing a range of shoes and fashion accessories. While stocked in a number of Mother City boutiques, the brand also has its own clothing shop on Cape Town’s colourful Kloof Street, a trendy space that is shared with another renowned local fashion designer, Adriaan Kuiters, who specialises in timeless, well-tailored menswear. Otherwise, Take Care attire, which, be warned, can be quite pricey, can also be found online (store.takecareclothing.com) and at the Designgoods Market at The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock.
73 Kloof Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 424 5502
The passion project of husband and wife design team Philip and Annemarie van der Linde, this exclusive boutique, which sits on the side of a quaint street in Cape Town’s city centre, specialises in moulding eye-catching diamond and gemstone jewellery imbued with unique individual character. Each custom-made trinket – think anything from sparkling engagement rings and tanzanite earrings to platinum bracelets, pendants and cuff links – is an exquisite work of craftsmanship and is pieced together by Annemarie herself in a chic on-site studio. Most notably, the duo pride themselves on their ability to create finery that’s intensely personal and strikingly unconventional, and they go to great lengths to source a kaleidoscope of rich, rare stones not often seen elsewhere. While the brand’s speciality is bespoke jewellery made from scratch, the CBD boutique does also stock an array of readymade treasures that drip with beautiful gems and that can be selected from glass showcases in the front of the store. Though a slightly more indulgent purchase, a piece from Linde Collection is a perfect example of Mzansi design at its finest.
65A Shortmarket Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 422 0041
Though not an independent designer per se, the Baraka gift and decor shop in Cape Town’s De Waterkant does stock an assortment of interesting handmade products crafted by talented local creatives. So, if you’re keen to get a broad sense of the Mother City design scene, this is a great spot to do it. The eclectic store, which calls to mind something of an African-inspired Middle Eastern souk, is filled floor to ceiling with everything from leather-bound journals, quirky artworks and scatter cushions to beaded jewellery, upcycled gems and ceramic pieces by contemporary artists like Cath Price. What’s more, the charismatic owners also regularly commission Mzansi craftsmen and -women to create unusual, offbeat items, like penis-shaped salt and pepper shakers or framed posters with cheeky sayings, that are exclusive to the shop. And the best part? While some gift boutiques charge exorbitant amounts for their goods, Baraka keeps prices very fair, so anyone can afford a piece of South African design.
Shop 13A | Cape Quarter Piazza | Dixon Street | De Waterkant | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 425 8883
The Wood Stock
This striking range of beautifully crafted wooden kitchen boards was inspired by a similar product that the brand’s Capetonian founder stumbled upon in an antique store while passing through the Overberg. The designer collection, which includes both heavy duty cutting, dicing and chopping boards and sleek, stylish serving boards (think for cheese and charcuterie), is hand-crafted from various different types of high-quality woods, including Knysna Blackwood, African Rosewood and Kiaat, by local artisans. What distinguishes these trendy timber masterpieces from standard kitchen accessories is that, with their rich, golden brown hues and lively grain patterns, they are as aesthetically appealing as they are functional – so much so that they make for lovely display items when not being used. For the time being, The Wood Stock range is only available virtually via the brand’s website (Thewoodstock.co.za); orders will be couriered anywhere in Cape Town’s CBD, Southern Suburbs and Northern Suburbs for a mere R35 (and farther afield for slightly more), and generally arrive within one day.
Founded by local interior designer Dani Le Roy and artist Laura Summs in 2010, Moonbasket is a socially responsible, Woodstock-based design house that employs a small group of ladies from Khayelitsha to create an innovative range of contemporary crocheted items. Thus, the company both supports other previously disadvantaged individuals in the Cape Town community and produces eye-catching homeware products that are fresh and unusual, thus demonstrating new possibilities for this old, traditional craft. Working with natural fibres like hemp in a modern way, the team stitches a selection of bold, bright motif carpets, striking pendant lights, decorative bowls and playful jewellery. Each item is unique and injected with creative flair and a whole heap of passion. Though the Woodstock studio is essentially a working space, patrons are welcome to visit to view the collection and make purchases (it’s necessary to phone before popping in). Some of their items can also be found at various boutiques around Cape Town. Should buyers want something unique to them, however, Moonbasket also makes beautifully bespoke items to order.
First Floor | Flex Mor House | 232-240 Albert Road | Woodstock | +27 (0) 82 929 4021
Stockists: LIM (Kloof Street);Haldane Martin (Woodstock); The Space (Cavendish Square)
This distinct range of eco-friendly, wooden-framed sunglasses was designed by local creatives Chris Elliot and Craig Cameron-Mackintosh during a postgraduate entrepreneurship programme at the University of Cape Town (UCT), and, despite going global, are still manufactured on Mother City soil. Made from one of several types of light or dark woods (hence the name ‘Hout’, which means wood in Afrikaans), the fashion-forward shades display unique grain patterns, come in four different trendy styles for both men and women and come complete with UV 400 polarised lenses. Being an environmentally conscious design project, Hout Couture only uses off-cuts for the frames and, for every item they sell, have committed to planting an indigenous tree through the educational initiative Eco-Schools. Though they don’t have a physical storefront, they sell the glasses through various retailers and will soon (February 2013) be launching an online shop (they’ll deliver at no extra cost).
Stockists: Zoppini (V&A Waterfront); MeMeMe (Long Street); WOW! Ways of Wellness Spa (Gardens); Tessuti Boutique (Constantia)
In everything from flavour and composition to presentation and packaging, small artisanal initiative Honest Chocolate’s delectable range of raw, organic cacao treats are nothing short of a proudly Capetonian creative phenomenon. Each melt-in-your-mouth piece is lovingly handcrafted from pure, unroasted Ecuadorian cacao by a passionate team of six – including pioneering founders Anthony Gird and Michael de Klerk – using traditional tempering, moulding and dipping techniques. The chocolatey creations are also free of preservatives, additives, dairy and processed sugar, making them a somewhat healthier alternative to standard sweets. The selection on offer includes original and mint bonbon truffles, a velvety chocolate spread, and a series of eight rich, dark 72% to 88% slabs mixed with crushed cacao nibs, Peruvian maca root, cracked coffee beans, sweet orange oil, mint, grains of paradise or Kalahari desert salt. And, as if the chocolates weren’t designer enough in and of themselves, each is also individually wrapped or boxed in recycled packaging that boasts quirky artwork and illustrations courtesy of different Cape Town creatives. While Honest Chocolate’s humble beginnings are rooted in their small Wale Street shop and test kitchen, they’ve now also expanded to include a larger store and studio at the buzzing new Woodstock Exchange (open end of January 2013); a visit to either of these charming, inviting spaces is a guaranteed all-round heavenly experience.
66 Wale Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 423 8762; The Woodstock Exchange | 66 Albert Road | Woodstock | Cape Town
Switch, an inventive brand designed and developed by UCT students and headed by young entrepreneurs Sian Levieux and Byron Darroch, has caused something of a stir in Cape Town with its one-of-a-kind range of wallets and card holders. Most central to its popularity are the magic wallets, which automatically, and quite miraculously, secure loose money under tight built-in elastics upon closure. In addition to being an example of sheer design genius, these items are also sustainable; they’re made from fabric off-cuts and reclaimed leather by a group of gifted local ladies from Darling. What’s more, they’ve been given fashionable flair with an inner lining that comes in multiple patterns and colours, and, being so slim and compact, they fit comfortably into pockets and small bags. As an ultimate highlight, they’re incredibly affordable too. As they are available online (Switchwallets.co.za), the wallets are easily accessible to anyone in the Mother City. Though, for those who’d prefer to view the selection in person, they are also up for grabs at various Cape Town shops.
Stockists: Casa Tabacs (Gardens Shopping Centre); Fab Things (Newlands); Premier Shoes & Luggage (Kloof Street)
Based in Observatory, luxury Cape Town-born bag and accessories label Kushn is the vision of locals Greer Valley and Themba Mntambo, who wanted to combine the softness, versatility and durability of locally sourced leather with the graphic patterns and vibrant hues of traditional, hand-woven Ghanaian kente cloth. Initially, the range was developed to protect and cushion (hence the name) technological gadgets, like MacBooks and iPads; hence, stylish vintage-looking leather laptop sleeves, iPad holders, camera bags and smartphone pouches feature prominently. However, the collection has since expanded to include mini card-holders, coin purses, clutches, briefcases, satchels, richly coloured leather ladies’ shoes and contemporary brogues. From the small and budget-friendly to the larger and more costly, each high-quality piece is a proudly South African must-have that embodies the Cape Town’s unique creative spirit. With a studio but no shop, Kushn sells all their products online via 36boutiques.com, their Etsy store and, as of February 2013, their new website (www.kushn.co.za).
The Shelley & Harry Jewellery Collection
With its first shop having opened on Sea Point’s bustling Main Road towards the end of 2012, the Shelley & Harry brand is fast making an indelible mark on the local world of upscale yet fun and fashionable jewellery. At the helm, Cape Town jewellery designer Shelley Robertson, supported by her lovable dachshund Harry (inspiration for the second part of the label’s name), has handcrafted various breathtaking ranges of elegant statement rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets, many of which are bedecked with warm gold and glittering gemstones. Most notable is the dainty, fresh and fun (and more affordable) Floral Collection, the classis, sophisticated Coco Collection and the bold, sexy, summery Goddess Collection. Being proudly based in the Mother City, many of her designs are inspired by the colours and textures of Cape Town’s dramatic landscape, cobalt skies and sapphire seas. In addition to her assortment of delicate treasures, Shelley has also launched a limited edition range of locally made genuine leather handbags and clutches that feature a Harry-inspired houndstooth pattern; these lovingly made accessories are also on display in the new boutique – a space that, being as classic and refined as the jewellery on show in its cabinets, is any discerning young lady’s utopia.
Shop 24 | Piazza St John | 395 Main Road | Sea Point | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 433 1830