In the shabby chic district of Neukölln, the part of town Berliners visit when they want a skinny latte and a joint, a new boutique displays South African designs. Two things ostensibly absent from the shop are beads and wooden curios.
“We wanted to move away from stereotypical African design,” says proprietor Caroline Adam. She hastens to add she is not fundamentally opposed to either of those tropes, “as long as it is done in an innovative way”.
The District Six Store is filled with fresh interpretations of familiar products. A wire-frame lamp by Indigi Designs gives a new spin on African wire constructions. It adds a touch of bright-red shweshwe fabric in the lampshade. Further down the aisle, minimalist ceramics by Mia Mélange hang beside kaleidoscopic mungo fabrics. The store is as diverse as a nation.
“People want to buy products that have a story,” says the German entrepreneur.
She recounts the story of one of the featured designers, Safia Tucker, who could not afford a sewing machine to assemble her leather bags. Forced to weave the leather into itself, a new approach was serendipitously born.
Customers loved the quirk. Now the Ilundi leather bags are displayed alongside the work of 36 other South African designers in the