De­sign Des­ti­na­tion Cape Town


World Travel Magazine - - Contents - BY JES­SICA ROSS PHO­TO­GRAPHS BY GREG COX

Cape Town, South Africa - re­cently named a UN­ESCO City of De­sign – has es­tab­lished it­self as one of the world’s top de­sign des­ti­na­tions.

Con­jur­ing post­card-per­fect images of pic­turesque beach­fronts, ma­jes­tic Ta­ble Moun­tain and rolling vine­yards, Cape Town is famed as the ver­i­ta­ble beauty queen of South Africa, flaunt­ing nat­u­ral as­sets such as the pris­tine penin­sula that’s primed for a sun-soaked hol­i­day. But in re­cent years the south­ern­most re­gion of the coun­try has un­veiled an al­to­gether dif­fer­ent side as some­where be­tween the wind­ing val­leys, sandy coast­lines and rugged trails, a cre­ative en­ergy has been rein­vig­o­rat­ing its streets, prov­ing that the Mother City is about sub­stance as much as it’s about style.

To lo­cals, the cre­ative in­dus­try has been gain­ing strength for some time, a slow and steady growth that cul­mi­nated in it be­ing named World De­sign Cap­i­tal 2014, spark­ing a year of ded­i­cated pro­grammes and spa­ces that showed off its un­tapped tal­ent. Fast for­ward four years and the city has been named a UN­ESCO City of De­sign, join­ing 31 des­ti­na­tions across the globe in a cre­ative net­work of lo­cales ded­i­cated to in­vest­ment and growth in th­ese all-im­por­tant in­dus­tries with a man­date to drive so­cial and ur­ban change. Now on the map, Cape Town can hold its own among the world’s de­sign greats – Lon­don, Basel, Hong Kong. Next to th­ese icons of in­dus­try the Mother City doesn’t just hold a flame, it sets the land­scape alight with a mul­ti­cul­tural, mul­ti­fac­eted ap­proach to cre­ativ­ity, and the time to dis­cover it has ar­rived.


Com­bin­ing cut­ting-edge ar­chi­tec­ture and the richly di­verse cul­ture of Africa and its di­as­pora, this mu­seum is a cel­e­bra­tion of mod­ern ex­pres­sion. When Thomas Heather­wick first walked into what is now the Zeitz Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art Africa 12 years ago, the im­pos­ing tower of grain con­tain­ers was al­ready over eight decades old, va­cant only for the pi­geon drop­pings that cov­ered ev­ery sur­face of the 33-me­tre-high build. The British ar­chi­tect had been tasked with turn­ing the 42 con­crete tubes into some­thing uniquely mod­ern that would cel­e­brate the cul­ture of the city, in an up-and-com­ing area of the V&A Wa­ter­front. The re­sul­tant space is a mag­nif­i­cent ex­am­ple of mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture. Out­side, the façade re­tains a strong phys­i­cal pres­ence but feels re­freshed by the geo­met­ric puffs of dis­tended glass for win­dows. In­side, Heather­wick’s team looked to a grain of corn as in­spi­ra­tion for the atrium. It’s here, at the heart of the struc­ture, that you re­ally get a sense of the scale of Heather­wick’s de­sign, which sought to de­con­struct the old bones of the grain stor­age and lend the build­ing a cathe­dral-like qual­ity through soft gen­tle curves, light and space.

On dis­play you’ll find art from en­tre­pre­neur Jochen Zeitz’s per­sonal col­lec­tion, on a 20-year loan to the mu­seum bear­ing his name, as well as mov­ing ex­hi­bi­tions put to­gether by the team un­der chief cu­ra­tor Mark Coet­zee. Like Lon­don’s Tate Mod­ern or San Fran­cisco’s MOMA, the Zeitz MOCAA is a cel­e­bra­tion of con­tem­po­rary art, and it’s also a ded­i­cated show­case to the cre­ativ­ity of the African con­ti­nent and its di­as­pora, with work by ac­claimed artists such as Wil­liam Ken­tridge, Kudzani Chi­uri and Nandipha Mn­tambo cov­er­ing the nine floors and walls of gallery space.


On his 100th birth year, Man­dela’s legacy re­mains in­grained in the fab­ric of Cape Town and cre­ative minds are cel­e­brat­ing his life through de­sign. From stained glass ded­i­ca­tions of re­li­gious icons to grand-scale oil paint­ings of roy­alty and stat­ues of war he­roes, since the be­gin­ning of time, artists and de­sign­ers have been pay­ing trib­ute to the world’s icons through their work. Th­ese mon­u­ments are meant to hon­our, some­times com­ment, com­mem­o­rate and re­mind, sub­tle and strik­ing tributes to his­tory, and there are few his­tor­i­cal fig­ures as recog­nised as Nel­son Rolih­lahla Man­dela, born 100 years ago on 19 July, South Africa’s anti-apartheid revo­lu­tion­ary, pres­i­dent and leader. Through­out the city of Cape Town you will find places of ded­i­ca­tion to his strug­gle and pol­i­tics.

‘Madiba has had an im­mense im­pact in my life,’ shares Ravi Naidoo, founder of De­sign Ind­aba, one of three key con­trib­u­tors to the re­cently erected Arch for Arch, a de­sign ded­i­ca­tion to the work of

Man­dela, Arch­bishop Des­mond Tutu, and South Africa’s con­sti­tu­tion. ‘We started our busi­ness at the dawn of the democ­racy and wanted to find plat­forms to ar­tic­u­late and manifest the vi­sion of Madiba and the vi­sion of Arch­bishop Tutu.’ Along with Nor­way-based stu­dio Sno­hetta, Ravi and South African ar­chi­tec­tural firm Lo­cal Stu­dio con­cep­tu­alised the Arch for Arch, a 14-beamed phys­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tion of the 14 chap­ters of the con­sti­tu­tion. The struc­ture demon­strates that South Africa is cham­pi­oning de­sign as key way of com­mem­o­rat­ing and re­mem­ber­ing key mo­ments in his­tory, and chal­leng­ing tra­di­tional statue mon­u­ments with in­no­va­tive cre­ations that re­spect their en­vi­ron­ment and the peo­ple that in­ter­act with it. ‘The rea­son I love spend­ing time with de­sign­ers is they lean op­ti­misti­cally for­ward into a fu­ture,’ notes Ravi. ‘They are the most pro­gres­sive peo­ple on the planet. Ev­ery­thing they look at they want to make bet­ter. It’s that at­ti­tude we need more of. We need a cre­ative army in help­ing us reimag­ine South Africa.’ Visit th­ese land­marks of Madiba’s legacy in the city of Cape Town on the cen­te­nary of his birth.

Arch for Arch at St Ge­orge’s Cathe­dral De­signed by Nor­way-based stu­dio Sno­hetta in con­junc­tion with artists from Lo­cal Stu­dio in Joburg and De­sign Ind­aba, this struc­ture of 14 in­ter­link­ing beams rep­re­sents the his­tory of South Africa and its core val­ues. The de­sign sits unim­pos­ingly at the en­trance to the leafy Com­pany’s Gar­den, im­mersed in its nat­u­ral sur­rounds.

Cape Town City Hall It’s the place where, just hours af­ter be­ing re­leased from prison, Nel­son Man­dela gave his first pub­lic speech as a free man. The grand Ed­war­dian build­ing breathes his­tory, and it re­mains an im­por­tant space for the peo­ple to gather. Sit­u­ated on the Grand Pa­rade, this his­tor­i­cal Ed­war­dian build­ing was made for large gath­er­ings and it’s here that the city came to­gether af­ter for­mer pres­i­dent’s death for an emo­tional vigil, cel­e­brat­ing his life through song, speech and dance. No­bel Square De­signed and brought to life by lo­cal sculp­tor Claudette Schreud­ers, the four sculp­tures that sit against the V&A Wa­ter­front’s dis­tinc­tive har­bour and moun­tain­side back­drop pos­sess the dis­tinc­tive char­ac­ter­is­tics – stocky statures and out­size fea­tures – as­so­ci­ated with the artist. The works rep­re­sent each of the coun­try’s No­bel Peace Lau­re­ates, with Arch­bishop Tutu and Man­dela along­side Nkosi Al­bert Luthuli and F.W. de Klerk.


Con­rad Botes

Per­haps best known for his work with fel­low artist An­ton Kan­nemeyer at Bit­terkomix, Con­rad Botes cre­ates art that wryly cuts into the heart of the po­lit­i­cal mine­field in South Africa. ‘As a vis­ual artist, I have al­ways been in­ter­ested in look­ing at fur­ni­ture and de­sign in a dif­fer­ent way, and how to merge the bor­ders that re­strict the dif­fer­ent prac­tices I am in­volved in.’ Re­cently, the artist made his first foray into the merged worlds of art and de­sign, col­lab­o­rat­ing with rug­maker Paco Pak­doust and The Guild Group, a col­lec­tion of com­pa­nies ded­i­cated to show­cas­ing the col­lectable de­signs of South­ern Africa. ‘When The Guild Group first in­vited me to pro­duce work for one of their shows, I re­alised it was a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate some­thing spe­cial,’ he said. Botes, who works out of his stu­dio in Ob­ser­va­tory en­joys the district’s edgy en­ergy. ‘I have had my pre­vi­ous stu­dios in Wood­stock and Salt River for the last decade and a half. I love the grit­ti­ness of those neigh­bour­hoods and the way artists in­fil­trate and oc­cupy them be­fore they be­come fash­ion­able. I like walk­ing th­ese streets and I’m in­spired by the peo­ple, ar­chi­tec­ture and graf­fiti that I come across.’ con­rad­ Jus­tine Ma­honey

Walk­ing into any ex­hi­bi­tion by Jus­tine Ma­honey, is a lit­tle like walk­ing into a fun house – if that fun house was straight out of a hor­ror film set. The artist’s quin­tes­sen­tial char­ac­ter sculp­tures in wood, enamel and bronze have a cap­ti­vat­ing car­toon qual­ity – each with a dis­tinctly dark and sin­is­ter un­der­tone. For Ma­honey, they’re re­flec­tions of grow­ing up in a coun­try where ten­sions bub­bled be­neath a thinly veiled har­mo­nious fa­cade. Next up, she’ll be

tack­ling an­other uni­ver­sally sem­i­nal pe­riod in her up­com­ing works, ‘but al­ways su­per­im­posed onto a South African back­drop,’ she adds, sum­ming up her oeu­vre. ‘My new work deals with trans­for­ma­tion, bud­ding sex­u­al­ity, ini­ti­a­tion into adult­hood. That pre­car­i­ous mo­ment be­tween child­hood and adult­hood, once reached never to re­turn. In a sense it is also about mourn­ing the loss of child­hood.’ While the home and stu­dio Ma­honey shares with hus­band Sean (of ar­chi­tec­ture firm Stu­diomas) is lo­cated in Cape Town’s sub­urbs, she’s in­spired by the in­dus­trial feel of ar­eas such as Re­treat and Wood­stock. ‘I have a love for ur­ban de­cay and re­growth,’ she ex­plains. As a part of Guild’s net­work of in­spir­ing creatives, she feels a cre­ative unity in the city: ‘The peo­ple be­long­ing to the art and de­sign com­mu­nity feed off each other, I find the peo­ple to be ex­tremely giv­ing and sup­port­ive of each other and feel in­cred­i­bly honoured to be a part of it dur­ing this ex­cit­ing time of cross-pol­li­na­tion.’ justinema­

Andile Dyal­vane & Zizipho Poswa

‘Clay is med­i­ta­tion, ex­pres­sion, cel­e­bra­tion and ed­u­ca­tion,’ says Andile Dyal­vane, one half of Imiso Ce­ram­ics and one of South Africa’s most ta­lented and talked-about ar­ti­sans. To­gether with equally ac­com­plished busi­ness part­ner Zizipho Poswa, Dyal­vane cre­ates a range of res­o­lutely African up­mar­ket ce­ram­ics in their stu­dio and gallery sit­u­ated in Wood­stock’s Old Bis­cuit Mill, a re­pur­posed fac­tory that’s now home to a pop­u­lar art, de­sign, craft and food mar­ket. In­side Imiso – mean­ing to­mor­row in Xhosa – you’ll dis­cover a trove of hand-carved clay pieces, prod­ucts amassed in their 12 years work­ing in this space, in­clud­ing Poswa’s pop­u­lar Hand­pinched col­lec­tion and Dyal­vane’s Afric­asso range of ves­sels in­spired by Pi­casso. ‘Wood­stock in­spires me,’ he says. ‘I have col­lec­tions and ob­jects named and in­flu­enced by this area.’ Both Poswa and Dyal­vane draw in­spi­ra­tion from their her­itage for their uniquely crafted ob­jects: Poswa’s Umth­walo series leans on the strength of Xhosa women, while Dyal­vane’s out­put, re­cently on dis­play at New York gallery Fried­man Benda, has been renowned for its treat­ment of her­itage in the con­text of a Western­ised world. ‘It’s very im­por­tant to me to take pride in my her­itage and cul­ture this teaches the younger gen­er­a­tion to love who they are and also learn of what they lost due to Western in­flu­ences.’ Dyal­vane at­tributes South Africa’s vi­brant cul­tural ta­pes­try as a key el­e­ment in cre­ativ­ity. ‘The di­ver­sity the coun­try has re­sulted in richer, more unique con­ver­sa­tional pieces than the world has ever seen,’ Dyal­vane ex­plains. imisoce­ram­ Hoi P’loy

When hus­band-and-wife duo Ploy Phi­rom­nam and Guy van der Walt are in search of in­spi­ra­tion, they step into the cre­ative stu­dios be­long­ing to lo­cal de­sign­ers, artists and ar­ti­sans right on the doorstep of Hoi P’loy, the cou­ple’s light­ing stu­dio in the hub of Wood­stock. ‘Vis­it­ing them, you’re in­stantly trans­ported into a small world where each cre­ative crafts an en­vi­ron­ment that caters to their own taste,’ they ex­plain. ‘See­ing th­ese projects come to life re­ally gets one’s own juices flow­ing and re­minds us of what’s pos­si­ble when peo­ple ap­ply them­selves and in­vest in their ideas.’ Hav­ing both come from cre­ative back­grounds, Phi­rom­nam and Van der Walt are aes­thetes at heart and are ex­cited about the role that light­ing plays in de­ter­min­ing mood. ‘Ar­ti­fi­cial light has the abil­ity to or­ches­trate our emo­tional state. A well-crafted bal­ance of var­i­ous warm hues, pre­sented in vis­ually stim­u­lat­ing pre­sen­ta­tion can el­e­vate one’s sense of self,’ they note. While the pair live in the suit­ably green sub­urb of Gar­dens, they love spend­ing their nine-to-five in the in­dus­tri­al­cre­ative ’hood of Wood­stock. ‘It’s ex­cit­ing to be based in an area that’s ex­pe­ri­enc­ing such phe­nom­e­nal growth from a wealth of dif­fer­ent types of peo­ple. It feels like one of the more cul­tur­ally di­verse ar­eas which is per­haps a lit­tle more re­flec­tive of our coun­try’s goals and ideals.’

Atang Tshikare

For mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary artist Atang Tshikare, whose tran­scen­dent work has been known to blend form with func­tion, the boundaries be­tween art and de­sign have al­ways been blurred. ‘I have a holis­tic view of the work that I do – you can’t sep­a­rate art and de­sign in what I do,’ he ex­plains. ‘De­sign is seen as cre­at­ing a prod­uct, but I

see de­sign as an art that has a prod­uct side to it.’ Just take a look at his col­lab­o­ra­tion with high-end in­te­rior brand OKHA, re­sult­ing in a truly one-of-a-kind cof­fee ta­ble, called Mets­ing, which demon­strates the beauty in nat­u­ral, or­ganic forms. It’s the out­doors that truly sparks Tshikare’s cre­ative en­ergy. ‘Na­ture re­ally has me in­spired. Places like New­lands For­est, [beach-side sub­urb] Muizen­berg, or Langa [one of South Africa’s old­est town­ships]... Any­where that you find hu­mans in­ter­act­ing with na­ture.’ When he’s not out ex­plor­ing the out­doors, Tshikare can be found at his Wood­stock stu­dio, where he uses el­e­ments of her­itage and African mythol­ogy to cre­ate his show­stop­ping pieces. ‘Wood­stock is the big­gest cre­ative hub in Cape Town. Artists and de­sign­ers are on al­most ev­ery block,’ he says. Tshikare com­pares Cape Town’s cur­rent artis­tic scene to that of Mi­ami just 10 years ago. ‘I see it get­ting there,’ he says. ‘Cape Town is be­com­ing the new icon of cre­ativ­ity.’ za­bal­ Trevyn and Ju­lian Mcgowan

As founders of the Guild Group, a cre­ative su­per­brand of no less than 10 sub-com­pa­nies and projects that aim to in­crease South Africa’s de­sign ex­po­sure glob­ally, Trevyn and Ju­lian Mcgowan have played a ma­jor role in fos­ter­ing the coun­try’s in­cred­i­ble tal­ent. ‘Ev­ery­thing we do is fo­cused on pro­pelling and nur­tur­ing our de­sign he­roes and fu­ture stars,’ says Trevyn, ‘so we have the ful­fill­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing at the fore­front of a move­ment that is chang­ing the land­scape of de­sign, not only in South Africa but in the global in­dus­try.’ The pair re­cently re­lo­cated their Guild gallery from Wood­stock to the up­com­ing Silo District. ‘With the far larger space we have been able to mount mul­ti­ple ex­hi­bi­tions si­mul­ta­ne­ously, launch a stu­dio line of in-house de­signed fur­ni­ture, and a con­cept store with smaller “take-away” prod­ucts by our South­ern Guild de­sign­ers and fresh tal­ents,’ Trevyn ex­plains. Later this year, vis­i­tors to the district will be treated to a new group show, ti­tled Colour­field, in­spired by the art move­ment from the mid-1900s, House of Bronze, open­ing in Septem­ber, ret­ro­spec­tive of Bronze Age’s work over two decades and a solo show by Dok­ter and Misses, ‘the Joburg based de­sign duo who have blazed a global tra­jec­tory in lim­ited edi­tion de­sign’, says Trevyn. theguild­

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