Activities / Attractions / Western Cape

Do the Design Route Cape Town

Updated Friday, 26 May 2017

At the recent Design Indaba you could pick up a Design Route Cape Town Map – produced by the team behind the huge exhibition, and Cape Town Tourism. Without doubt Cape Town has pretty unique cosmopolitan vibe, so it is no surprise to learn that it is regarded as the creative capital of South Africa.

The Design Route is a collection of local design – shops, warehouses, boutiques, projects and collectives. It’s a bevy of individuality, and a flush of young up-and-coming and established names and brands. It’s also incredibly exciting to know that so much is happening on one’s very doorstep.

And the great part of travelling the Design Route is that the majority of ‘spots’ lie in the City Bowl and Woodstock, Salt River and Observatory. In the city this means that if you do not have your own car, or even if you do, you can use the City Sightseeing Cape Town bus on both the Blue and Red routes – most of the venues are within walking distance. You will get to see Cape Town at the same time. It is a great route to offer your friends visiting the city.

To entice you to visit, here follow a few of our favourite design venues on the Cape Town Design Route

Do the Design Route Cape Town

… In The City Bowl

Bluecollarwhitecollar – shirts with a difference

This shop, situated on the incredibly popular Kloof Street, promises shirts for the blue and white-collar person in every individual. The white collar shirts are smart with a real trendy twist – different cuffs, florals and other designs; they have personality. And the blue collar t-shirts (you even find shorts with a difference here) are individual and say something about the wearer – they have attitude.

And there’s a rather ‘nice’ story behind the shirts. It goes something like – two Cape Town guys, Paul van der Spuy (who considers himself ‘blue collar’) and has a penchant for retro motor bikes and cars, jeans and tees, and Adrian Heneke (who is the ‘white collar’ part of the duo) who loves playing golf and wearing formal gear for business meetings, teamed up and created the brand.

Where: Shop G21, Lifestyle on Kloof, 50 Kloof Street, Cape Town or The Neighbourgoods Market on Saturday mornings

Continent Africa

This is a personal favourite. The brand, which essentially sells t-shirts of every shape and hue, is a non-profit organisation that uses the money it makes to research how aid, and its negative effects, can be brought to an end in Africa.

The big plus factor here is knowing that the money you’ve just forked out for your favourite colour tee, with the African continent emblazoned on the front (simple, effective, and pretty enough to wear) is going towards something positive. As Lindy Cohen says, by using this effective image, that has in many ways become a universal icon for aid, the hope is to begin reversing the negative perception of a continent in need of aid.

Where: 59 Harrington Street, Cape Town

freeRange Jewels

freeRange jewels

Local jewellery conceptualised and manufactured in Cape Town. The gemstone show stopper rings alone are worth visiting the store for (look out for the flower and bug rings, and the stack rings, which sell at reasonable prices for local design and are gorgeous!), which prides itself on placing the emphasis on quality not price, so don’t go expecting cheap imports from India; this is the real thing.

Free Range jewels play on the idea that the designer has ‘free range’ to design without hinderance (beyond the boundaries set by the commercial market), with a quality product in mind, that is 100% local. Marelé Lamprecht and her team regard themselves as free thinking designers. The shop in the Cape Quarter stocks rings, neckpieces, earrings, bracelets and knots of love – if you’re after a present for your lady love, then this is the shop in which to find it.

Where: Cape Quarter, The Square Shop 37, 27 Somerset Road, Green Point.

Spilt Milk

I like this brand not only for its name, but also for its stylish clothes. They’ve been around since 2004, so they’re not a new kid on the block. The women’s range is feminine, falls beautifully, and doesn’t need a cat walk to make it come to life. Alma van den Berg is the face behind the easy-to-wear range of men and women’s clothing, but you will need an appointment to view the clothing, so contact her before time.

Where: 36 Upper Orange Street, Oranjezicht, Cape town

By Liesel Trautman

In Woodstock, Salt River and Observatory

Liesel Trautman

Make sure that you visit this beautiful porcelain homeware workshop. There is something about this mix of ceramics that draws one to them at once – perhaps it is the obvious femininity and elegance that mark them as something special. Liesel handcrafts each individual piece, and you can buy someone special in your life a cup, plate, jug, vase or bowl, the unique personality of which makes it a show piece, rather than a functional vessel alone. Trust me, you’re going to ooh and aah.

Where: 114 Lower Main Road, Observatory, Cape Town

Haldane Martin

Whilst in the neighbourhood, make sure that you also take in the contemporary furniture and award-winning contemporary designer, Haldane Martin, even if it’s just to look. His work is quite beautiful and he incorporates the principles of working ethically when it comes to protecting the environment. He describes his work as ‘contemporary furniture that integrates man, nature, culture and technology, with the human qualities of wisdom, love and beauty.’

Where: 12 Aberdeen Street, Woodstock


Katie Thompson’s furniture recreations are a personal favourite of mine. She repurposes a range of furniture and lighting using single, discarded junk items and blending them with what she calls South African craftsmanship. This is real out-the-box thinking and the end products are gorgeous and thoroughly functional – you won’t hesitate to add any of her items to your home.

Where: 368 Albert Road, Woodstock

Cape Town Links:

Pick up a copy of the Design Route from any of the Visitor Information Centres – there are 18 of them.