Quirky craft in Cape Town

by Keri Muller

To avoid shopping mistakes in Cape Town, follow my advice and find well designed and unique African souvenirs

Local design talent in South Africa has come a long way since guinea fowl painted plates, mass produced masks and porcupine quill lampshades. A collection of store owners have focussed on the unique and quirky creativity that is emerging and chosen to showcase this in specialist shops and galleries around Cape Town.


I love Heartworks. It inspires me, makes me feel proud to be South African and keeps me browsing for at least 25 minutes. The three little shops, one on Kloof Street, in the Gardens Shopping Centre and at The Old Biscuit Mill, play host to a carefully selected range of products that owner, Margaret Woermann, has sourced personally from all over South Africa. The shops are tiny and crammed to the ceiling with goods making choosing difficult but guaranteeing that you will find the perfect item. Margaret has worked closely with a number of the crafters and artists helping them to develop their skills and providing them with a platform to sell their goods. Heartworks doesn't have a website so just go and find them or call: +27 (0) 21 424 8419

Africa Nova

All over Africa and still constantly bringing in more finds is the best way to describe Africa Nova. The gallery sells (I should say exhibits) authentic African art and craft. Each item is carefully chosen ensuring a high quality and aesthetically very appealing selection of items. Carved fertility dolls rub shoulders with delicate silver jewellery from Mozambique, resting on Handwoven Kente cloths from Ghana. About half of the stock in the shop is from local artists and designers ensuring a good mix of the contemporary as well as more of a tribal influence from further into Africa. See: www.africanova.co.za

The Neighbourhood Goods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill

Not a shop as such but a wonderful and ever increasing market that happens on a Saturday down in the bottom of Woodstock, an area that no tourist would ever get to - until recently that is. You must be a small producer and offer something unique to have a stall here. Items on sale range from jewellery to fresh flowers, handmade leather shoes to dresses, to printed tea clothes that The New York Times has featured. And then there is the food. Oysters fresh from Knysna, artisan bread baked in the Karoo the night before, free range beef and lamb, cheese from the herd whose owner knows every cow by name and local wines - organic of course. The market is open every Saturday from 9am till 2pm (rain or shine) and is located on Lower Woodstock Main Road near to the Maitland circle: www.neighbourgoodsmarket.co.za

Beautiful places to stay 

Kensington Place - Hidden away above the city bowl on the slopes of Table Mountain, this boutique hotel is ideal for the city traveller who wants some peace and quiet, but doesn't want to be too far away from things. Prices start from R2860 per room per night.

Camps Bay Retreat – Obviously located in Camps Bay but less obviously one of the oldest estates in the area with a garden rolling down to Victoria Road. You are tucked away from the madness of the poncy Camps Bay beachfront but still close enough to get there in five minutes. Prices start from R2200 room per night.

Tintswalo Atlantic - This is one of the most incredible locations in Cape Town even though it’s in Hout Bay. It’s worth it to wake up and look straight out to sea. This boutique is also located within the Table Mountain Nature Reserve so you will be collected from the main gate on Chapmans Peak Drive and driven down to the hotel.  Prices start from R6000 per room per night.

The Waterfront and De Waterkant Luxury Apartments are a collection of privately owned properties managed for short term holiday rentals (they can be booked through African Elite - Luxury Villas & Apartments). They are all located in the historic area of Greenpoint known as De Waterkant or in the V and A Waterfront Marina. The luxurious apartments, penthouses and villas are fully serviced and have a 24 hour concierge and reception. If you really want to live like a local, I would highly recommend staying in one of these properties. Prices start from R2000 per night for an apartment.