Hit these streets in Cape Town’s city centre for awesome design

Cape Town’s city centre is easily explored by foot – and that’s the best way to seek out the local design talent, whether you’re looking out for art, architecture, jewellery or fashion…

Cape Town’s city centre is a treasure trove of creative expression. The main streets and seach have their own distinct character and, together with the neighbouring suburb of Woodstock, have secured Cape Town’s place – after being named the World Design Capital in 2014 – on the global design map.

“Cape Town’s design scene is vibrant and diverse. We have tackled creativity in a varied way and in doing so are able to offer it on many levels, be it interior design, architecture, interior products, food, art fashion,” says Robert Sherwood of interior design consultancy Robert Sherwood Design.

You heard the man: get out there and spend a day trawling the city centre! Just make sure you wear comfortable shoes…

Bree Street

In the last few years many interior and fashion designers and architects, have opened shops in Bree Street, elevating it to Cape Town’s “Designer Mile”. Robert Sherwood Design, fabric house Skinny La Minx and Avoova – which specialises in interior products made out of indigenous ostrich shells – are but a few. These are set in and amongst architects’ practices such as Inhouse Brand Architects and Van der Merwe Miszewski Architects, accessories designers and fashion boutiques, and a number of gourmet restaurants and well-known art galleries.

Loop, Long and Church Streets

If you head down into Loop and Long Streets make sure you go there via Church Street. Long famed for its outdoor antique market, it’s a narrow street full of art galleries and jewellery design studios, and is also home to designer showroom and shop Chandler House. Further down is the Ceramic Factory, which produces bright and quirky ceramic home accessories in a range of interesting designs.

African Image, a well-known seller of African crafts and products from across the continent is further down Church Street. Nearby, in Loop Street, is Stable, a design emporium featuring innovative local brands such as Dark Horse, Indigi Designs and James Mudge Furniture, amongst many others. Next door is fine art and design gallery Ebony.

Kloof Street

Further up the city grid, heading toward Table Mountain, is Kloof Street – an extension of Long Street and home to a host of established local design shops. Lim, Klooftique and Loft Living all specialise in furniture design and home décor, while newcomers Ashanti Design specialise in vibrant home furnishings from the African sub-continent. The Lifestyle on Kloof centre hosts the popular loved Present Space, a design collective that represents close to a hundred local designers.

Old print press turned into one of the city’s hippest design hubs

As the newest development to accommodate Cape Town’s vibrant design and entrepreneurial start-ups, Mason’s Press in Woodstock is bursting with creative energy and raw talent.

Lower Wooodstock has always been an industrialised neighbourhood, with factories and workshops servicing Cape Town’s textile, food, beverage and clothing industries. Many of these older buildings, like the Old Castle Brewery and the Old Biscuit Mill, have been rejuvenated by savvy investors and developers over the years.

Mason’s Press is no different, having been given new life from its previous incarnation as an old industrial centre that housed a printing press.

The developers kept the industrial look of the original three-storey building, but updated it by including an element of playfulness. This is evident walking through the different zones, where art and graffiti murals, colourful outdoor furniture, decorative tiles and bright licks of paint, jump at you when you least expect it.

This playful theme is extended to the enclosed pedestrian walkway, with outdoor lamps and benches placed along it. Surrounding the walkway are artisanal food and beverage shops such as Baseline Coffee, Skinny Juice Company and Moro Gelato, amongst others. This is a sought-after launch and event venue, and the communal hub where patrons, store and business owners mingle.

There is a strong sense of community amongst the designers, creative agencies and businesses at Mason’s Press. They include well-known furniture designer Haldane Martin, interior decorator Sarah Ord, beautifully designed mid-century modern furniture brand Birba Funiture; and local and artful textile designers Black Fabrics.

Other interesting businesses on the premises include My Green Love Affair, a wedding and event co-ordination company dedicated to minimal waste and reducing carbon footprints, and natural local beauty product manufacturers BOTANē Skin Actives.

Wandering through the hallways sipping on a freshly pressed juice, looking into the various studios, ateliers, workshops and offices and knowing that this is where Cape Town’s design and entreprenuerial stars of tomorrow are honing their craft is eye-opening, invigorating and most of all, inspiring.

Small centre, big design ideas: welcome to the Woodstock Foundry

Proving the saying that dynamite comes in small packages, one of the smallest design hubs in Cape Town features some of the biggest names in Cape Town design.

Behind the picturesque façade of a heritage building that is over 100 years old, the Woodstock Foundry is home to a handful of creative studios and retail shops of some of the city’s most talked about design and artistic talent.

When you enter through the parking area you arrive at an unassuming alleyway that leads to a quaint cobbled courtyard lined with a treasure trove of design, jewellery and furniture showrooms and stores. These include well-known local furniture designer John Vogel, jewellery brand Dear Rae and Bronze Age, a design and art studio that specialises in the casting of bespoke bronze pieces.

Up the stairway you’ll find some inspiring studio spaces: Indigi Designs specialises in locally made home décor products; Casamento make creative seating solutions that are eco-conscious and employ handcrafted upholstery techniques; and Smart Art, a digital printing company that will bring your most vivid imagery to life in home and office wallpaper, canvas art or fabric — if you want to do something original with your Cape Town photographs, here’s where to come.

Next to the quaint main building is an annexe that houses the resident coffee shop, Tribe Coffee. And like most of the coffee shops worthy of mention in Cape Town, they roast their own beans and are serious about their craft. Across the hallway is one of Cape Town’s, if not South Africa’s, most loved botanical design and hanging garden specialists, Opus Studio, founded and run by Marissa Pretorius, who hosts regular workshops on botanical design.

The Woodstock Foundry is a hotspot for interesting and unique South African design. The businesses here are a tightly knit community who regularly come together to host events and markets at the venue.

The Woodstock Exchange is a hub for local creativity and design

As Cape Town’s urban showpiece for design, innovation and entrepreneurship, the Woodstock Exchange is abuzz with a creative energy that is as infectious as it is inspiring.

The Woodstock Exchange is everything the name implies. Set in Albert Road in Cape Town’s hippest creative neighbourhood, Woodstock, it’s all about exchange – contributing and building towards Cape Town’s creative community. Fondly referred to as the WEX, the Woodstock Exchange is a place where creativity is the currency and where the sharing of knowledge, ideas and the act of networking inform the day-to-day running of businesses.

What makes this hub stand out is that it was one of Cape Town’s first such design and creative hotspots, with the retail component structured around the French concept of ‘the atelier’. Ground floor shops all have a workshop or studio joined to them so that visitors can see the designers and craftsmen in action, giving equal focus to the finished product and its creation.

The shops here comprise some of the most sought after emerging local brands in the furniture, fashion and product design industries such as furniture shops Eleven Past, Saks Corner, Pedersen and Lennard and Dark Horse, as well as lifestyle accessory shops Wolf & Maiden, Revolution Skateboards, Ballo, Urban Africa and Chapel, amongst others.

Aside from the designer retail offering, the contemporary restaurants and cafés –Superette, Rosetta Coffee, Field Office, Honest Chocolate, Lady Bonham’s Tea Parlour and Starling and Hero, amongst others – all look like they’ve been styled for a magazine editorial. The best part, though, is the influx of the creatives from entrepreneurial businesses, design studios, innovation hubs and creative start ups, whose offices, work spaces and workshops fill the upper three levels of the Woodstock Exchange. They set the tone for the creative energy around and make “people watching” a treat for anyone looking for inspiration.

Using art to get Capetonians to be tourists in their own city

You’ll often catch Atang Tshikare, founder of multidisciplinary creative design studio Zabalazaa, riding his bike through the streets of Cape Town, whose iconic buildings are the main source of inspiration for his latest body of work, We’ Right Here. It’s all about using art to let locals — and tourists — see a different side to Cape Town’s structure. He tells us more.

Zabalazaa is about the meeting point of function, information and aesthetic.

My creative process is inspired by iconic surroundings that I use to tell the stories. My medium is illustration where these stories are documented and applied to functional products with important information added to accent the stories.

The new project called We’ Right Here features iconic buildings and is a new way of mapping the city. It’s a capsule collection of postcards, wallets, tote and fold-out beach bags. The team, comprised of me and some of the guys I employ part time, went out to look for iconic buildings in the city centre and made simplified illustrations to make the structures more symbolic. The next step was to get the GPS co-ordinates so tourists visiting the city could find them easier. We then added some interesting information about the buildings so it became more educational.

This capsule, multi-disciplinary collection was made not only for tourists but also to inspire locals to be a tourist in their own city and to renew their knowledge and understandings of their surroundings.

I am based at Side Street Studios in Woodstock and it’s great because it’s not just a node of rentable space but rather a creative hub and community of artists, designers, musicians, artisans and various other creators.