The mall with culture
As a proud resident of Joburg, it’s humiliating to report that a couple of Capetonians got together and said: “Hey, let’s bring back the cool to a neglected cultural gem and establish a delightful, permanent, local design hub that will help Joburgers feel better about the fact that a giant mall almost ruined Newtown’s skyline.”
Local design company Source’s Julian and Trevyn McGowan have done just that – and they have done it well.
The newly opened Work Shop New Town in the historic Old Potato Shed of Newtown is exactly what the otherwise conceptually scant Newtown Junction mall needed.
It’s a beautifully designed hub where local fashion, art, design, beauty products and food coexist to delight a conscious shopper.
The open-air stores, which have the charming look of dressed-up market stalls, make for an impressive labyrinth of offerings from more than 100 local designers of fashion, furniture and other lifestyle goods.
What I like about this initiative is that it provides retail spaces to entrepreneurs who might not otherwise afford bricks and mortar stores in malls, or whose businesses have online visibility but are not accessible to most consumers.
Take, for example, internationally celebrated Port Elizabeth designer Laduma Ngxokolo, whose awardwinning knitwear now has a modest stand-alone space at Work Shop. Or Maria McCloy, whose muchloved African printed shoes, bags and accessories were only available at Market on Main on Sundays.
The space boasts an art gallery that is exhibiting work from the Bubblegum Club, beauty supply stores such as Taryn Gill’s The Perfect Hair and Yivani Naturals creams and oils, a vintage record store, and a central and west African décor store called Central Original. In terms of food, The Potato Shed is the stylish culinary offering from the people who brought us the much-loved Life Grand Cafe in Hyde Park. February will see the launch of a dim sum restaurant conceptualised by a team of five, including Marie Claire editor Zanele Kumalo and freelance writer Zodwa Kumalo-Valentine. The Work Shop New Town is open from 11am to 7pm on weekdays, 10am to 7pm on Saturdays
and 10am to 4pm on Sundays
One of the design boutiques at the Work Shop New Town in Joburg