The mall with cul­ture

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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

PHOTO: CHRIS SAUN­DERS

DR PACHANGA

One of the de­sign bou­tiques at the Work Shop New Town in Joburg

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