Design in Cape Town
The cosmopolitan city of Cape Town has creativity flowing everywhere. Several design shops in Cape Town showcase the best of local artists and designers. From eclectic African artwork and sculptures to handmade eco-friendly textiles, the history and spirit of the people shine through each piece. The Mother City uses art, design, and architecture to unite people and create a positive socio-economic change.
Here we share four of our favorite design shops that offer a curation of the best African materials.
Villa Africa by Philip Tyers
Designer Philip Tyers has opened a new gallery and studio in Cape Town that celebrates the African design scene. Villa Africa specializes in unique custom furniture that combines luxury materials with graphics and structural elements for a contemporary twist on conventional African design. Most of Tyers’ design inspiration comes from the vibrant street art of Cape Town and Johannesburg. Expect to see bold splashes of color and geometric prints which echo traditional African art.
Tyers’ work uses mostly one-off pieces which explore his 25-years of working in interiors and residential design. His experience within the space offers truly sophisticated design solutions. Many of the pieces displayed in Villa Africa are collaborative efforts. Tyers promotes work from local artists and artisans, blending his background in interior design with bringing emerging new artists to the foreground. The space is a true celebration of the local talent. Tyers is currently working on setting up a collaboration with a New York City art gallery to further promote the up-and-coming artists under his umbrella.
Amelia Jackson Industries
Amelia Jackson Industries is a manufacturer of handwoven cotton rugs and bathmats with a distinctive South African design aesthetic. Most of the textile pieces have geometric patterning or bold stripes. Only local artisan people make the rugs using mostly local recycled materials, such as fast fashion textile waste. Together with the owner of Amelia Jackson Industries we visited a project at a local supermarket in Khayelitsha, the largest township in Cape Town. The rugs are used as acoustical ceiling panels to transform the space and create a warm artisan feeling.
The combination of South African design, local materials, and handmade craftsmanship ensures that each rug holds and celebrates the essence of South Africa. An innovative “Meet the Maker” QR code can be found on their packaging, allowing for each customer to see a video of the weaver that made their item. This allows for a deeper connection with the piece and honors the weavers behind the projects.
Another of our favorite design shops in Cape Town is that of self-taught textile designer, Ronel Jordaan. Taking her inspiration from nature, Jordaan creates original felt pieces from fine gossamer threads. The therapeutic felting process happens by rubbing threads of pure wool into shapes found in nature. Jordaan has taught a handful of other women who had limited education on how to become felt masters. Each piece holds the energy and memory of the creator behind it.
While most famous for her signature rock cushions serving as poufs, she has also felted acoustic wall panels decorated with flowers, grass, and animals. The process is highly customizable and nearly any object can be made from felted wool. Decorative felted wall panels are another of her specialties, which are a modular system. Consistent with the theme of nature, all of Jordaan’s design work is eco-friendly. The processes implemented in the workshop are harmonious with nature. All of the wool used is proudly 100% South African and goes through no carbonization, soaps used are biodegradable, and dyes are lead-free.
Our final must-see design studio in Cape Town is Ashanti Design, a socially conscious business heavily focused on upcycling waste materials. Working with local artisans, the design studio combines contemporary style with traditional craftsmanship. Each piece showcases the amazing culture and techniques passed down through generations.
Ashanti Design is most popular for its vibrantly colorful quality beanbags, handwoven on African looms. The studio also produces bags, cushions, and homeware in a similar striped style, along with wicker baskets and woven lampshades. All of the colorful fabric used originates from offcuts of clothing that would otherwise end up in landfill sites. The use of upcycled materials and color combinations chosen at the moment means no two pieces are quite the same. Each unique piece is a reflection of the customs, culture, and energy of the South African people. In fact, the entire team is African – from the craftsmen to transportation partners. Making a positive impact on the local people is at the core of Ashanti Design’s beliefs.