2 pop-up design stores with staying power

Present Space and Fabricate started as pop-up design emporiums in Cape Town malls, and soon became permanent fixtures – proving that quality local design can hold its own amongst commercial brands.

Cape Town is not short of high-end shopping malls, but with the vibrant design community growing from strength to strength and a host of new designers emerging each year, good quality, local design is becoming more and more accessible.

This was one of the core values set out by Cape Town as World Design Capital 2014: to make good design that’s proudly South African readily available to everyone.  Present Space and Fabricate are doing just that. Both started out as pop-up stores, but have retained their presence and become permanent fixtures at the respective malls they’re located in.

Present Space, at the Lifestyle on Kloof centre in Kloof Street, is beautifully curated with warm, golden lighting washing the shelves packed with locally-designed products. The mainly monochrome aesthetic consists of homeware and lifestyle goods, such as Sugar & Vice and Zana, lighting by The Artisan and ceramics by Elsa Burger, as well as some jewellery and fashion accessory designers. Present Space pride themselves on representing close to 100 young South African design brands and are passionate about the abundance of local talent in Cape Town.

Likewise, Fabricate in the Gardens Centre, Cape Town’s oldest shopping mall, is a champion of local design, and markets itself as a gift emporium. Their range of products extends across the design disciplines of jewellery, home décor, accessories and other gifting goods. Look out for intricate prints and artworks by Lauren Fowler, Dayfeels and Artymiss, amongst others, as well as bespoke paper products by Chandler House. Their home décor and accessories side include wood items by Milkshed and The Ark, and cork and copper accessories by Leg Studios.

Both of these local design emporiums stock a vast range of products and you’ll be spoilt for choice if you’re looking gifts or accessories that capture the vibrancy and talent of Cape Town’s design scene here.

Architect by day, maker of design eye candy at night…

Chris van Niekerk does a serious balancing act as principal architect for his firm The Fold, while also being creative director for his start-up e-commerce design emporium Africandy. His love for local design with artistic merit and originality drives him to source high-end products from various up-and-coming local designers. He gave a quick run down on what he does and why.

I’ve been practicing as an architect working on residential and commercial projects in Cape Town since 2004. In my work I tend to revere the use of light, abstraction and proportion more than I do expensive materials. I also enjoy trying to make something beautiful out of utilitarian materials that are often overlooked.

In 2012, I had an idea to establish an online portal for South African product design in response to the often mass-produced tourist-type curios that proliferate the market. And so Africandy was born as an e-commerce store promoting local product design to compete with its European counterparts. Africandy has been very well received by the public and media alike and since launching we’ve had substantial media coverage both in the local and international press.

There are many talented designers in Cape Town and Africandy is a means to harness this talent. As an architect, however, I’m particularly interested in the emergence of a receding interest in the modernist project, which actually had stronger roots in architecture in Pretoria and Johannesburg.

I sometimes feel that if your surroundings are too beautiful, as Cape Town is, you tend to become complacent in your response to this context. It’s good to note that many great designers also hail from lesser-known places in South Africa, like designer and artist Pieter Henning, who hails from McGregor, for example.

But I love living and working in Cape Town. I’m based in Bree Street (in the city centre) and in fact I live in the same street. I like that I can get around on foot mostly; I only ever use a car to go to site meetings on the city’s outskirts.

Ceramicist shapes old Cape heritage into new art

Since opening his design studio and shop, Chandler House, in Cape Town’s city centre in 2012, Michael Chandler’s ceramic pieces have attracted attention thanks to their historical references and quirky aesthetic. Underpinning it all is his interest in the Cape’s unique craft and design heritage and traditional decorative arts. He tells us more about his Cape-inspired craft.

I’d describe my work as carefully considered, made with different materials…to produce pieces that have a lyrical or whimsical appeal – or pieces that evoke our Cape design heritage in new ways.

My design and creative process really depends on each piece. Usually an idea strikes me at the most bizarre hour, and if I can, I write it down in one of my notebooks as I imagine it. I then go over a few scribbled versions of it until I’m happy with the final design and then I work with some of our talented Cape craftspeople to bring it to life. Sometimes it comes out just the way I had imagined and sometimes even better. I love working with other people – collaboration is very underrated.

I was really honoured to be featured in the book Craft Art in South Africa by Elbe Coetzee, as well as having three works of mine included in an exhibition at the South African National Gallery curated by Carol Kaufmann. I’m really excited to see that my interest in blue and white ceramics and its connection to the Cape is not just shared by others, but also being introduced to new audiences.

My shop-cum-studio-cum-gallery is located in a beautiful 18th-century Cape Georgian heritage townhouse in Cape Town’s city centre. It is positioned in Church Street, a one-way street of galleries, cafés, an auction house, jewellers, architects, design stores and more, so it’s very inspiring to be in this little hub of creativity. I enjoy bumping into all these people and sharing ideas and experiences as we go about our lives in the street.

Find the best of local design at the V&A Waterfront’s Watershed

The V&A Waterfront holds many attractions for Cape Town locals and discerning tourists alike – none more so than the innovative local designer crafts and goods on sale at the Watershed.

The V&A Waterfront is Africa’s premier shopping and entertainment destination, with an estimated 24 million visitors in 2014. It is estimated that only 23% of the Waterfront’s visitors are South African, which makes it an ideal location for a designer hub such as the Watershed to showcase the best South African and Cape Town design talent.

Previously the Blue Shed and Wellness Centre, the tenant selection for the Watershed, which opened in 2014, was overseen by South African design expert Trevyn McGowen of Southern Guild and Source. The 150 craft and design traders (representing over 365 brands) are mainly from the disciplines of textile, furniture, ceramic, homeware, fashion, jewellery design and art.  All their beautifully crafted products and goods are displayed within the various alleyways and stalls of the industrial-styled Watershed.

Designed by Heinrich Wolff of Wolff Architects, the Watershed’s ground level is based on the idea of a public street, which crosses through the multi-volume and multi-level space. Its location next to the historic Robinson Dry Dock and its views of the harbour and Table Mountain allow visitors to wander through on their way to and from other attractions at the Waterfront whilst enjoying the scenery, the vibe, a cup of coffee on the go and the immense variety of original designer goods on sale.

The upper mezzanine levels include a wellness centre, corporate office spaces and exhibition and eventing areas, as well as a technology hub called Workshop 17.

In the year since it opened the Watershed has become known as the home of Cape Town’s design talent and was recently recognised with an Award for Architecture by the Cape Institute for Architecture for its design.

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.

Meet Cape Town’s under-30 design stars

These rising stars in Cape Town’s design industry have all studied industrial design, carved their respective niches on the local design scene – and are all younger than 30.

Jasper Eales, product designer, 27

Jasper Eales has already established a name for himself as one of Cape Town’s most talented young product designers. With a focus on ecofriendly and sustainable materials, Jasper’s homeware and furniture products prioritise simplicity and functionality with loads of character. The whimsical Rawbots epitomise this: the  range of robot ornaments made from various discarded materials – mainly wood and metals – are each unique, with its own personality, to boot.

Yolandi Schreuder, industrial designer, stylist and do-it-yourself specialist, 24

Having shot to fame in 2011 for her Baja Multifunctional Children’s Table Chair, Yolandi was nominated for the World Design Impact Award when she was only 20. This prize honours industrial-design-driven projects from around the world that aim to make a positive impact on society in some way. Since then Yolandi’s career as a Cape Town-based stylist and DIY consultant has taken off – and we can’t wait to see what she’ll come up with next.

Lauri Wiid van Heerden, product and furniture designer, 28

Lauri’s designer furniture and homeware products blur the line between art and design. His beautiful pieces have been exhibited at international design fairs such as 100% Design in London, Design Days Dubai, Design Basel in Switzerland and Design Miami in the US. He has collaborated with a number of established South African designers and design collectives, and recently opened a showroom and workshop in Observatory, Cape Town, that’s worth a visit.

Elsje Burger, ceramicist, 28

Elsje started out as an industrial designer, but after a mould-making course she decided ceramics were her future. She supplies a host of high-end décor and home boutiques around Cape Town with her fun pieces that are often accented with gold. She experiments in her studio in Observatory, where she tests her craft in home and tableware creations. Her attention to detail is her competitive edge that brings interesting aspects to her designs – like bowls with a moulded-in pourer, outlined in a gold-paint finish to look like it’s dripping.

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.

This is where to find couture in Cape Town’s commercial hub

Situated in Bree Street amongst high-rise office blocks, the all-black façade of Kluk/CGDT’s flagship store stands out from the crowd – much like their distinguishable gowns at important social events.

The three-storey Kluk/CGDT flagship store is on a part of Bree Street that is more business than pleasure. Launched in 2014 as part of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, it was replicated to look like an early 20th century building, typical of Lower Bree Street. The refreshing black façade, dotted with contemporary floor-to-ceiling glass windows and populated with leggy, black-painted mannequins, is enough to make anyone, even those whose interests don’t include fashion, curious to wander in.

It’s the duo’s third store in South Africa – and no expense has been spared in presentation. A grand staircase designed by Cape Town-based artist Rodan Kane Hart is a focal feature; bottles of sparkling wine await guests arriving for their appointments and, of course, there’s the beautifully designed couture, ready-to-wear, bridal garments and gowns that the duo are renowned for. A sense of luxury emanates from every corner of the three storeys, which comprise a bridal parlour, lounge, change rooms, shop area and at the top, the studio.

It’s quite rare that a local fashion house has a stand-alone store in arguably Cape Town’s most exclusive commercial address, not to mention their other stores around South Africa. This is testament to the duo’s stellar success over the years, that has seen them featured in every local fashion magazine as well as leading international publications such as Wallpaper, Monocole, American Vogue, Harpers Bazaar and I-D, amongst others.

Kluk/CGDT’s latest offering is their SS16 ready-to-wear collection entitled Pop, inspired by Anime and the Pop Art movement. For a fix of colourful Cape Town designed original fashion and an all-round luxurious experience, head to the alluring black-painted building in Bree Street.