My first visit to the amazing continent of Africa started out on safari with my family in Thorny Bush – a private game reserve near the Kruger National Park in South Africa and all that I had ever considered as normally exciting as a so called avid traveler went out of the window (sorry Europe/America/Asia – this one takes the cake). No travel brochure can prepare you for what it feels like to experience living with wildlife where zebras, giraffes and nyalas are browsing outside your bedroom (and bathroom too).
Wild and tribal life is very much a part of Africa and is quite evident in the design aesthetic of products and graphics that one finds in souvenir shops. Animal skins and bones are available at all souvenir shops although it was personally quite hard for me to buy these products. The wooden crafts are beautiful and make great gifts.
This was followed by a driving holiday along the scenic Garden Route of Plettenberg Bay where we trekked, went on boar trips and ate fresh oysters for almost every meal. The Garden Route is all about discovery and is dotted with village craft shops where you can shop for some amazing ceramics, textiles and lovely mohair blankets. The Old Nick’s Village is a cluster of shops that host these craft and design enterprises that are super trendy and export all over the world.
While game reserves, vineyards and nature walks are very much on the South African holiday goer’s itinerary, one has to prepare themselves for the urban trendiness of Cape Town with its culinary edginess (do not miss the Pot Luck Club) its unique shopping experience and buzzing art scene. Anyone in the process of doing up their homes (I am) and is looking for shabby chic homeware the kind you see in trendy French boutiques should head to this part of the world for a fresh flavor and good bargain. So plan an extra day or two for the shopping. Most of the action is in the Woodstock area of Cape Town between the Biscuit Mill and the Foundry.
Gunjan lists her top design and décor picks:
Mungo – is a natural fibre handwoven textile woven in South Africa. It offers a beautiful range of bed, bath and table linen in beautiful colours and weaves. The weaves and textures are unique and perfect for a relaxed luxury vibe for the home.
Clementina Ceramics at the Biscuit Mill by ceramic artist Clementina van der Walt. The designs are very cool and experimental. The Wabi Sabi range is particularly amazing to quirk up the table top.
The Sothern Guild is Africa’s design gallery with some incredibly designs by emerging and well known South African designers and artists. They participate at all major fairs and are known for putting South African design on the map.
Design Afrika – All the African basketry loveliness that we dream about when we think of Africa is available at Design Afrika that was founded by craft pioneer Binky Newman.
Casamento – is an interesting textile and upholstery boutique that specialize in unique upholstery solutions using local textiles, embroideries and threads.
Vogel – Furniture store in the Foundry with beautifully handcrafted wooden furniture. The owner has been showing globally is and his aesthetic is well recognized.