Far from being a sleepy city in the south of Africa, Cape Town is most certainly a ‘watch this space’ place. In fact, we’re on a mission to become the World Design Capital in 2014
A major change for Cape Town over the past few years has been the creation of a unique design style in fashion, contemporary arts and furniture circles. Before, the tendency of many a young designer was to look to Europe for influence and inspiration.
We have stalwarts like Klûk CGDT (Portside Centre, Green Point Main Road; 083 377 7780; www.kluk.com) to thank for this change – fashion slaves, visit this store in Greenpoint for feminine off-the-peg and always on-trend offerings for any occasion. Another trendsetter who’s doing her own things is Swedish designer Alexandra Hojer whose eponymous store is in the Lifestyle Centre on Kloof Street (Lifestyles on Kloof, 50 Kloof Street, Gardens; 021 422 4149; www.alexandrahojer.com.) – she’s definitely a name on the lips of the city’s It girls thanks to her flattering, floaty offerings. Local fashion chameleon, David West has recently joined forces with fellow shapeshifters furniture label Doktor and Misses at a new concept store David West Dokter and Misses (113 Long Street; 021 801 4733; www.davidwest.co.za.) in Long Street where furniture and fashion meet in a thoroughly modern marriage. You’ll find lean-lined must haves for the modern home and deconstructed clothing with a noughties dandy edge.
Local fashion talents
I’m a big fan of The Space (Cavendish Square, Cavendish Street, Claremont; 021 674 6643; www.thespace.co.za.), not only because it’s so proudly South African with rail after rail of seasonal fashions by some of our best independent designers but because the small runs mean I’m unlikely to see many other people in the same outfit at a party.
When on Long Street, be sure to pop into Mungo & Jemima (108 Long Street; 021 424 5016; www.mungoandjemima.com.), another champion of local fashion design where the local fashion pack arrives en masse come restocking day. Across the road is edgy boutique MeMeMe (117a Long Street; 021 424 0001; www.mememe.co.za.) with its street-meets-glam style while all the way at the top of Long Street is Misfit (278 Long Street; 021 422 5646; www.misfit.co.za.), a hub of edgy streetwear and flouncy flirty frocks.
I’m a traveller who invariably comes home with suitcases full of design-led stuff (from stationery to ceramics and little knick knacks I can’t refuse) and Cape Town has loads to feed any similar fetishes. Imagenius (117 Long Street; 021 423 7870; www.imagenius.co.za.) is a really good bet for unusual buys with its handpicked selection of local ceramics, jewellery and homeware, and imported quirky finds. Church (12 Spin Street; 086 501 3381; www.thepresident.co.za) is a new concept store in the central business district that changes its design and focus every few months - at the moment it’s a wood-clad space featuring piñatas and old fashioned soda siphons sourced in Argentina. If you’re a ceramics nut (I am), I couldn’t recommend a visit to Liesel Trautmann’s (114 Lower Main Road, Observatory; 073 2759 494; www.lieseltrautman.co.za.) studio and shop in Observatory highly enough. Her work is sought after all over the world and her motifs of local animals and flora make them very much representative of contemporary Cape Town.
If you’re in the market for larger SA designed pieces, visit Field Office (37 Barrack Street; 021 461 4599; www.fieldoffice.co.za.) for artisanal coffee and a chance to view work by young guns Pedersen + Lennard who showcase their flat-pack furniture here (they ship all over the world in case anything appeals).
Furniture and art finds
Lovers of design should head for Haldane Martin’s (12 Aberdeen Street, Woodstock; 021 448 0999; www.haldanemartin.co.za.) showroom in Woodstock to see his Afro-influenced modern furniture designs, while if contemporary art is your bag, I’d highly recommend popping into the What if the World Gallery (First Floor, 208 Albert Road, Woodstock; 021 448 1438; www.whatiftheworld.com.). The achingly hip Michael Stevenson Contemporary (Buchanan Building, 160 Sir Lowry Road,Woodstock; 021 462 1500; www.michaelstevenson.com.) gallery space is well worth a visit as is the nearby Goodman Gallery (176 Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock; 021 462 7573; www.goodman-gallery.com). The latter two are situated on a stretch of Woodstock that has now become an arty hub.
After you’ve ogled the latest exhibition works why not pop across the road to The Kitchen (Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock; 021 462 2201; www.karendudley.co.za.), the lair of lovely local Karen Dudley, where moreish homestyle eats with a Mediterranean edge are served on mismatched crockery (their honey roasted pork sausage ciabatta sandwiches are ridiculously delicious).
More expert advice on Cape Town
For suggestions on where to stay in Cape Town, see my Cape Town Hotels – Award winning expert hotel reviews, from cheap to luxury hotels in Cape Town page.
Read my overview on Shopping in Cape Town.