Tag Archives: interior design

IKEA Överallt truly everywhere but not in SA; highlight of Design Indaba in Cape Town!

While I have shopped at IKEA in Southampton with my son now living in the UK, I have not been near an IKEA anything in Cape Town. This changed last week, during Design Indaba 2019, when IKEA had a prominent IKEA Överallt ( meaning everywhere in Swedish) outdoor stand at the foot of the Artscape Theatre building. It reflected the best creativity in design in Africa, a social responsibility project of the global Swedish home interior design company. But there is little chance of the company opening any stores in our country within the next five years, it was confirmed.  Continue reading →

Restaurant Review: Batavia Café proudly Cape Town; a French, Spanish, and Cape Malay mélange!

Batavia Cafe exterior Whale CottageI drive down Rose Street in Bo-Kaap almost every day, and have been watching the slow progress made in a restaurant opening in what was one of my favourite coffee stops.  After about six months of Haas having moved out, Batavia Café opened two weeks ago.

Old Haas fans may be disappointed with the lightweight decor, and design items for sale, following a similar concept as Haas in promoting not only its food at the Batavia Café, but also design in the Batavia section, by CapeBatavia Cafe Clothes and art Whale Cottage Town designers such as Issa leo (menswear), Lazuli (womenswear), BO.NE nature made (African animal skulls), work by artists Annette Visser and Ina Grobbelaar, Gruparte (graphic posters and prints), and Oh dear Megan (jewellery designer). The first floor which housed the Haas ad agency has been let. The seating area in the little courtyard offers the most privacy.  Many mixed-colour bunches of flowers, or a single stem in  a Continue reading →

Restaurant Review: Chardonnay Deli more Farm Stall than Eatery, no Chardonnay, sub-standard food!

Chardonnay Deli extrior sunday Whale CottageWord has spread about newly opened Chardonnay Deli in Constantia, and my expectations were high when Manley Communications sent the media release about it in December.  The expectations created via the media release were not met unfortunately, and we found a Farm Stall with below-average and poorly presented food in its Eatery!

I had arranged to meet my lunch host Tony Ward at the Farm Stall, not knowing exactly where it was, and hard to see in a bend, and to turn right into to park, given the traffic load on Constantia Main Road.  The branding on the roof of the building is smallish, not helping one to find it.  There was barely any parking in front of or near the Farm Stall, it Continue reading →

Chef Chris Erasmus to branch out into new Franschhoek Folliage restaurant!

Folliage Chef Chris Erasmus Whale Cottage PortfolioA quick Easter Hot Cross Bun and coffee at Pierneef à La Motte was a double treat when Chef Chris Erasmus came to say hello and joined me at the table to share the news about his new Folliage restaurant, which he plans to open in the heart of the Franschhoek village just before the Bastille weekend in mid-July.

Chef Chris was beaming, clearly excited about his new project, even though he says that he is a little nervous about running his own business for the first time.  Chef Chris worked at Le Quartier Français, at Pied à Terre in London, and at Ginja in Cape Town before he joined Pierneef à La Motte almost four years ago, and took the restaurant to Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant last year.  He leaves La Motte on 15 June. He is opening his restaurant on the corner of Berg Street and main road, just two blocks from our Whale Cottage Franschhoek, in walking distance for our guests, who prefer to walk to the village for dinner than to drive to any of the good restaurants on theFolliage exterior building Whale Cottage Portfolio wine estates just outside the village. The restaurant will seat up to 70 for lunch, including outside, and 40 inside at night.  The building belongs to the owners of La Petite Dauphine, and one of its owners, Gert Gertzen, is a highly regarded interior designer, and he is working with Chef Chris in planning the decor, which will have a wood ceiling, and wood furniture, on a concrete floor.

Right next door is the IS art gallery, which moved into the same building a week ago, a Continue reading →

Rhapsody’s set to become a restaurant of note in Green Point!

Rhapsody’s opened in Green Point last week, where Doppio Zero used to be, perfectly positioned for business when the Cape Town Stadium hosts events, and for locals in general.  It is the first full-scale restaurant of this Pretoria-based franchise group in Cape Town, and the 12th for the group, which has ambitious restaurant opening plans for next year.  It was chatting to the Executive Chef Claire Brown, previously of Pierneef à La Motte, and some of the passionate managers that gave me confidence that this restaurant won’t be another franchise restaurant, but one that wants to make a difference for Capetonians.

I was intrigued when I first saw the logo on the boards outside the restaurant when I visited neighbouring Café Extrablatt about a month ago, and they told me the name of the restaurant.  The franchisor of the group and owner of the Cape Town branch is Michalis Xekalos, who opened his first Rhapsody’s branch in Menlyn, Pretoria ten years ago.  There are Rhapsody’s restaurants in Ghana, Bloemfontein, Polokwane, and Bedfordview, and an ambitious expansion plan for next year includes Continue reading →

Patchi Cape Town is chocolate heaven in Bo-Kaap

I was in the Cape Town City Centre Hotel, to be renamed the Hilton City Center Hotel at the end of April but which is already branded as such, last week to find out more about the Hilton Hotel-to-be in what was previously the Coral International, and found the surprise chocolate heaven Patchi chocolate shop inside the hotel.  (The Patch bill states its address as the Hilton City Center Hotel already).

I felt as if I had arrived in a shop in another country, so beautiful and luxurious was the interior design of the shop, and initially one does not see the chocolates.   But the wrapped chocolates are creatively displayed in numerous cases, glass bowls and other containers, to entice one to leave not only with the chocolate but also with a gorgeous gift holder too.

I spoke to the delightful Noli, but she was very nervous about me taking photographs, and pointed out the notices to this effect inside the shop – odd that one would not want customers to help spread the word, given that the shop had no other customers.   She told me that the chocolates are made in Lebanon, and there are 140 Patchi ‘Boutiques’ in 38 countries around the world, the website says.  Noli seemed surprised that I had not heard of the brand name before.  The Patchi shop in the hotel is the first in South Africa, and I was left with the impression that there will be more local store openings in future.

The company was founded in 1974 by Nizar Choucair.   Its vision statement is “Beside the pleasure of savouring, Patchi chocolate opens up an entire world of feelings and festivities, which takes you beyond reality”.  Its unique concept is described as: “At Patchi, chocolate gained the distinctive stamp of nobility by being beautifully presented”.  The website says that the company “transforms chocolates into decorated gifts that can be offered anytime and anyplace, whether placed in crystal, porcelain or silver”.

Each chocolate is individually wrapped in gold or silver paper, adding class to the already quality chocolates.  None of the chocolates contain alcohol, Noli told me proactively.  There are two product ranges, consisting of about twenty chocolates each, and the Classic range is charged at an expensive sounding R489 per kg and the Deluxe at R 564.   It sounded worse than it was, and four chocolates cost R 47, some of them larger than one would find in local chocolate shops, and Noli added an extra one that she wanted me to try (Marquise).  The Deluxe range has better quality fillings, and tend to be larger, Noli said.  Many of the chocolates contain gianduja, which is a hazelnut creme, she explained.

The shop is airconditioned as well as humidified, and the chocolates are neatly stored in drawers, rather than being visible inside the counter.  One has to choose one’s chocolates from two product lists that are on the counter, with a short description of each.   Each of them have a catchy name.   The five I left with were :

Parfait – dark chocolate filled with caramel truffle (from Deluxe range)

Quatro – milk chocolate filled with gianduja, praline and almond croquant (Deluxe)

Arabica – milk chocolate filled with four roasted beans (Classic)

Pause Café – milk chocolate filled with coffee cream (Classic)

Marquise – dark chocolate filled with gianduja, crisped rice, almond and hazelnut pieces (Classic)

Excellent quality gift items can be bought – a sterling silver tray in the window caught my eye, and inside a lot of beautiful Morano glass items are displayed, as are those made by IVV, also from Italy (the international Patchi brochure shows Rosenthal, Sèvres, L.S.A., lladro and Kosta Boda gift items too, but they are not for sale in the Cape Town branch).   I asked for more information about Patchi, and Noli gave me a luxury brochure with their Christmas Collection.   It shows that one can have corporate chocolates made up with one’s branding, and that one can buy gift vouchers.  There is a Patchi’s Kids Collection too.

Patchi Cape Town, Hilton (to-be) City Centre Hotel, corner Wale and Buitengracht Streets, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 481-3786.  www.patchi.com

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Restaurant Review: Caffe Milano Pasticceria & Bar è deliziosa e amichevole!

My first encounter with Caffe Milano Pasticceria & Bar on Kloof Street, next door to ex hot-spot Manna, for lunch last week made me undecided as to how I felt about it, something that doesn’t happen very often.   A return visit for breakfast on Saturday morning made me a firm supporter, enjoying the good food, the good service, and extreme friendliness.

I could not help but compare the new restaurant, the fifth that restaurant mogul Giogio Nava has opened in Cape Town (his other restaurants are 95 Keerom Street, Carne, Down South Food Bar, and Mozzarella Bar, and he is soon to open an events and entertainment venue in the old Art Deco Land Bank building in Queen Victoria Street) with Cassis Paris’ Salon de Thé in Newlands.  Both restaurants focus on the patisserie side of their outlets, and both produce beautiful pastries.  While they are freshly baked on the Caffe Milano premises from about 2h00 every morning, the Cassis Paris delicacies are baked at a central factory in Montague Gardens.  The product display at Cassis Paris is more attractive, in that it has a larger pastry range, and they are neatly displayed in rows in the display cabinets, while those at Caffe Milano are placed on platters inside the display cabinet.   As I went to eat after lunchtime, a number of the Caffe Milano pastries on the platters had been sold, and were not replenished, probably waiting for the fresh load to be baked the following day.   Caffe Milano’s pastry display is inside the restaurant, whereas it is in a neighbouring shop at Cassis Paris, with no direct client connection.   The service is definitely far better at Caffe Milano, and the food, based only on two items at each, definitely was better at Caffe Milano.   Brand focus is far better at Cassis Paris.  Cassis Paris has a marketing edge on Caffe Milano, in that it started brand building three years ago.

While I was well looked after by the waitress Zoe, I felt something was missing in the restaurant, especially given the rave reviews I had read by blogging colleagues.  There is no music.  There is perhaps too much open space inside the two restaurant sections, which does not create cohesion.   The tables have wooden tops and with the wooden chairs they did not give me the feeling of the latest elegant Milanese design  (Nava’s partner in the Mozzarella Bar, Matteo Amatruda, owns a+1 in The Foundry, an interior design shop specialising in Italian furniture and lighting, and I did not see his decor hand at Caffe Milano).  The walls are painted a boring beige, and the staff tops are beige and branded, matched with brown aprons, a not very modern colour combination. Downlighters and ordinary looking round lamp shades light up the bar section and display cabinet area.   I loved the large LavAzza wall poster (on the right), and would have liked to see more of this theme inside the restaurant – unfortunately the poster is hidden from the view of most clients sitting in the entrance section of the restaurant.  I loved the cake displays in the windows.  The menu (with winelist) looks boring and old-fashioned with little brown illustrations of food items subtly printed on it, which initially made me think that it had coffee stains on it.   It also looks cheap, just being an A3 page which looks heavily used, given that the restaurant has only been open for a month.  A white paper serviette is on the side plate and the knife and fork are pedestrian.  The teaspoon is Italian designed, and looks far better quality.  Zoe brought Morgenster olive oil and balsamic vinegar to the table, the latter bottle having only a last drop in it.  A Robertson’s pepper grinder is on the table, as is an ordinary salt cellar.

Nava arrived and was active behind the counter for a while, but never appears to connect with his customers.  Vanessa Quellec is the co-owner of Caffe Milano, and the pastry chef, having previously worked at The Roundhouse.   She has worked in top restaurants in New York, and went to Germany and Italy before opening the restaurant, to learn more about bread baking.  She had left for the day, I was told, as she works with the baking staff in the early hours of the morning.  The chef in the kitchen is Brendon Stein, previously having worked at the River Café at Constantia Uitsig. The manager is Charlene van Heerden, and she was very helpful in proactively opening the pastry display cabinet, so that its glass door would not reflect in my photograph.

Breakfast is served until midday, and offers five options: Kloof Street Breakfast (bacon and eggs) at R45; Eggs Benedict R52, scrambled eggs cost R45, and R55 with bacon, and R 65 if served with salmon; French Toast made from cinnamon and pecan brioche costs R58, and a Muesli Mix with fruit and yoghurt R 55.  Breakfast pastries such as croissants filled with almonds, chocolate, apricot jam, or cream, or served plain, cannoncino, bombolone as well as sticky buns, range in price between R10 – R18.  “Filled” croissants can also be ordered, with mozzarella, parma ham or smoked Norwegian trout on them, costing R30 – R42.   The LavAzza cappuccino is excellent, and costs R15 (Nava discounts it to R10 at his Mozzarella Bar down the road).   I loved the neat LavAzza sugar sachet holder, which I have not seen elsewhere.

Lunch is served between midday and 16h00, a decent time range, and a bowl of toasted thin slices of some of the Caffe Milano breads is brought to the table.  Only eleven lunch items are available, of which five are salads (avocado, smoked mozzarella, roasted chicken, calamari, and caprese), quite expensive at R 60 – R75. I ordered the La Tartare di Mazo (R70), being ‘hand chopped raw prime fillet dressed with Morgenster olive oil, onion, egg, capers and parsley’, and served with three slices of toast, a perfect accompaniment to the tartare, one of the best I have tasted, less fine than that which one can buy at Raith Gourmet.   The presentation was rounded off by three half slices of lemon, each of these having a tiny amount of chopped onions, washed and chopped capers, and chopped parsley.   When I did not recognise the dried and chopped capers, Zoe brought before and after capers to the table, to explain how they get to look so brown when washed, dried and chopped up.   Parma ham and melon costs R95, smoked yellow fin tuna carpaccio R80, Norwegian salmon R85, beef carpaccio R70 and lasagne pasta, spinach and ricotta costs R65.  There is only one ‘Dolci’ item on the menu, which is the Il Fondente “95”, from Nava’s 95 Keerom Street restaurant, which he also serves at the Mozzarella Bar.   I suspect that most patrons will make their way to the display cabinet, and will chose a dessert from it, the selection including cannoncino (R10); mini apple tarts, lemon tarts, Sacher Torte, Coconut Daquoise, and Portuguese custard tarts costing R15, and lots more.   I had a berry pannacotta, which was served in a beautiful glass, and I savoured its creaminess, whilst chatting to an American visitor sitting at a table across from me.  

Cap Classiques on offer are Villiera (R40/R160), Graham Beck Brut (R45/R210), Graham Beck Brut Rosé (R50/R230), Steenberg Brut 1682 (R280) and Krone Borealis Brut Rosé (R270).   Taittinger Brut costs R720, and Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé R950.  No Shiraz is on the winelist, and generally the winelist is weighted to white wines.  Wines by the glass include Graham Beck Rail Road Red (R28/R110), Villiera Cabernet Sauvignon (R35/R110), Dombeya Merlot (R48/R190), Felicite Pinot Noir (R41/R165), Kleine Zalze Sauvignon Blanc (R30/R120), Graham Beck Chardonnay (R45/R180), and Kloof Street Chenin Blanc (R28/R110).

One can go home with pastries and artisanal breads under one’s arm, as well as with a beautiful LavAzza cappuccino machine, ranging in price between R2800 – R 3300, depending on the colour scheme of the machine.  LavAzza coffee pods can also be bought.

I had mixed feelings about my first visit to Caffe Milano, relative to the hype I had read, and saw no bar counter, as promised in the name of the restaurant.   Perhaps the marriage between the restaurant and the pasticceria is not there yet.  There is nothing on the menu to encourage one to peek at the pastry display cabinet, especially when one does not see it in the side room, and it would be nice to have the names of these items listed on the menu too, to see them as dessert options, and also to get to know their Italian names with English descriptions.   Given Nava’s restaurant experience, I think the restaurant can stretch itself with a greater variety of Italian dishes over time, only two dishes on the lunch menu being cooked, and I have read that it may open for dinner in future.  The pastries are good value, especially given their quality, but I felt that the lunch portion of steak tartare was expensive relative to the amount that was served.  The food quality is excellent. The main attraction is the pastry section, and perhaps it could do with being fuller for most of the day, with pastry plates refilled, and more neatly presented, as per Cassis Paris.   I will be back, and my next visit will be for breakfast.   Parking is a challenge however, the popularity of Caffe Milano making it hard to find somewhere close by to park.

I had written the above (with the exception of the first paragraph) after my first visit for lunch, and my return visit clarified some things, and changed my mind about Caffe Milano completely.  First, it was buzzing on Saturday morning, and I was lucky enough to get the last table, as well as to find a (creative) parking spot close by, so great is their popularity.   Charlene, the Manager, welcomed me back like an old friend, and the waitress Zoe took over some of the service at my table too.  The pastry display cabinet was fully packed, and all the trays were filled.  The service was fast and efficient, despite the restaurant being so full.  The scrambled egg (R48) I ordered was the most delicious and the most yellow I have ever eaten, served with lovely toasted rye bread.  When I commented on the colour of the eggs, Charlene brought me an information booklet from Spier BD (for Biodiversity) Farm, whch is their supplier of eggs, chicken and beef.  I was fascinated to read their claims that ‘pasture-fed’ animals are “freer than the free ranging” animals and birds, and therefore implies healthier to eat.  The chickens, for example, spend 21 days on the pasture in ‘predator-proof houses’.    They lay their eggs in ‘eggmobiles”.  The pastures have 19 varieties of grasses and legumes, the brochure explains, and the farming is biodynamic.  “The chickens are treated as animals, and not as production widgets”, it continues.  Slaughtering is done by hand, it says, as ‘humanely as possible’.  The chickens are not injected with brine, up to 25 % being allowed in South Africa. 

The co-owner Giorgio Nava looked very cheffy in his white chef top, and was behind the counter the whole time that I was there.  The biggest delight of all was Vanessa Quellec coming to say hello.  She is very friendly and welcoming, and I loved her two pigtails, making her very down to earth.  She kept checking that everything was in order, and showed me her new bread ‘baby’, a baguette epi (right), which she had baked for the first time that morning.   She also compiled a list of her bread styles for me, which is not in the menu.  On weekends she has a greater variety of breads available, and it includes the epi, milk bread rolls and sugar milk bread, in addition to the weekday range of ciabatta, baguettes, 60 % as well 100% rye sourdough, focaccia with sea salt and rosemary, and bialy.   Vanessa comes from Minnesota originally, and worked in some hotshot New York restaurants, where she met PJ Vadis, the chef at The Roundhouse.  He suggested that she work for Markus Farbinger at Il de Pain in Knysna, who is internationally known as one of the best bread bakers and pastry makers in the world, having worked in New York too, including at Le Cirque.   Vanessa spent a year in Knysna, and says that Farbinger has changed breadmaking in South Africa (one of his other proteges is Fritz Schoon at De Oude Bank Bakkerij in Stellenbosch).  Through her friendship with Vadis, she worked at The Roundhouse as pastry chef, until the opportunity arose to start Caffe Milano with Nava.   While she waited for the restaurant to be ready for opening, she spent time at a sourdough bread and at a roll factory in Germany, and also at a bread factory in Italy, such is the love for her craft.  She told me that she only uses the best ingredients, and recently introduced Valrhona chocolate from France to South Africa, using it for all her chocolate requirements, and also selling it in slabs.

Vanessa also told me that the menu will evolve, and this week the first additions to the menu will be introduced.   They will focus on creating greater synergy between the pastry and bread side of the business, and the restaurant side, through the menu.   Vanessa confirmed that opening in the evenings is on the cards, but not in the immediate future, as she wants her staff to be perfectly trained first.  I thought they were doing very well for having only been open for a month.

I have found a delightfully friendly new breakfast, lunch and coffee break venue in Cape Town, with relatively easy parking (except on Saturday mornings).  I will certainly be back. 

POSTSCRIPT 13/3: I went back to Caffe Milano today, and enjoyed the most beautiful Eggs Benedict.  I asked to have the bacon excluded, and Charlene spontaneously offered me avocado and mushrooms to replace it.   The restaurant was so full, that I had to wait for a table.  It had a wonderful buzz.

POSTSCRIPT 27/4: Vanessa Quellec leaves Caffe Milano in July, and is heading for Valrhona in France, where she will undergo training in the use of their chocolates.  She plans to return to Cape Town as a representative of the company.  Giorgio Nava will bring in an Italian pastry chef.

POSTSCRIPT 26/9:  The Weekend Argus reports that Caffe Milano will open for dinner from November.

Caffe Milano Pasticceria & Bar, 153 Kloof Street, Gardens, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 426-5566.  www.caffemilano.co.za (The website is still under construction). Tuesday – Sunday 7h00 – 17h00.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Design Indaba Expo 2011 showcases Cape Town as design capital of South Africa!

Yesterday I became excited about another dimension of Cape Town – I attended the Design Indaba Expo, the first time that I have attended any aspect of the Design Indaba in its 16 year history.   I am so sorry that I was not better informed about this amazing event in the local newspapers or on radio, and had it not been for Twitter I would not have known about it.   I was blown away by the quality and diversity of design, by mainly Cape Town based designers, in the jam-packed Cape Town International Convention Centre exhibition hall, and must congratulate Ravi Naidoo and his Design Indaba team for the excellent organisation, and leading-edge design on display.  I would urge all design-lovers in Cape Town to visit the Design Indaba Expo this weekend.

There is such an overwhelming number of exhibitors, in relatively small stands, that one blindly moves from one stand to another, trying to not miss anything in the vast hall.   No exhibitor map or list is provided when one buys the ticket outside the hall, and the Design Indaba Info stand is in the centre of the hall (not visible when one enters), and I only saw it near the end of my long walk through the exhibition.   Here I was able to obtain a “Visitors Guide”, which lists each of the roughly 250 exhibitors, and contains the floor plan, so that one can find the exhibitors, as well as the programme for the fashion shows and film festival, forming part of the Design Indaba programme.  Designers were chosen by a panel of industry experts, the Visitors Guide explains.   What I did observe is that many designers are brand new at their design businesses, and rather poor at their marketing, not having business cards and/or brochures with them, or having handed all of them out during the first day of the Expo.  Pierre le Roux was one of the most interesting designers at the Expo, in my opinion, but has no business card and not even a website.  Pierre described his furniture as being works of art more than functional seating.  To obtain further information and contact details of all the designers, one has to buy  a “Buyers Guide” at R100, which I decided to do, to use at a later stage – sadly Pierre’s details are not in the Buyers’ Guide either.  This information deficiency was the only flaw in the Expo that I experienced.   

Near the entrance was an impactful rainbow-coloured display to attract attention to Cape Town’s bid for Design Capital of the world in 2014.  Attendees were invited to sign the base of the display, to show their support for the bid.   Next to it stood a five-tier cake by Charly’s Bakery, which reflected different aspects of Cape Town.   in the exhibition hall one can loosely pick up a grouping of similar designers, including furniture, fashion, jewellery, craft, interior design, product design, advertising, architecture, publishing and many more design disciplines.

The furniture exhibits probably attracted the most attention, because the exhibitors required more space, and they tended to not be confined within exhibition stand walls.  I was impressed by the differentness of an outdoors chair made from pipes (left), as well as the new stainless steel tub chair from the Sofa Studio in Franschhoek.  Other furniture designers at the Expo include the Western Cape Furniture Initiative, Haldane Martin, Cabinetworks, Pierre Cronje, Raw Studios, Recreate, Pedersen + Lennard, …XYZ Design, and a most cleverly named Flower Power, making lamps shaped like proteas. 

The 24 jewellery stands probably were the most popular in general, attracting a lot of visitors.  The work exhibited was more modern and contemporary, some quirky, very creative, some art, some organic, some romantic, and all unique and non-commercialised.  The University of Stellenbosch Jewellery Design department also exhibited its students’ work.  Ceramic exhibitors include Liesel Trautman, Diana Ferreira, fun Zizamele Ceramics, John Bauer, The Potter’s Workshop, Tamarillo Ceramics & Design, Clementina Ceramics,  Hennie Meyer Ceramics, Imiso Ceramics, Sootcookie Ceramics, Tania Babb Ceramics and Wonki Ware.   Craft exhibitors include Woodhead’s, Usisi Designs, Cupcake Country, The Cape Craft & Design Institute, Phumani Paper, Design Afrika, Monkeybiz, The Letterpress Company,  Nicfredman Art and Design, Molten, The Beloved, and many more.   Fashion took up a lot of exhibition space, and was popular.  Exhibitors include Tjerrie, Matblac, GOOD Clothing, Coast & Koi, Spilt Milk, BlueCollarWhiteCollar, Homework, Mielie, Township Patterns, DURCHZUG, FACT, Baie Nice, Continent Africa, and MeMeMe.   Lifestyle designers exhibiting are Pepper Plum Designs, Yda Walt Studio, Flick Glass, Fundi Light & Living, Carrol Boyes, Chic Revolution, Tintown, Anatomy Design, and Ikhaya.  Some of the names of the designer businesses are as creative as their craft!

There are two separated design areas within the Design Indaba Expo.  The first is The Salon Privé, ‘focusing on the crème de la crème of South African design.  The Salon Privé is independently curated and designers are encouraged to use the platform to launch a new product or product range.’    In this space the Ardmore ceramics table attracted attention, as did the Veuve Clicquot champagne bar, where I indulged in a glass of their Rosé bubbly at R99, served in a most beautiful unusual champagne glass, nothing like I have ever seen before, without a stem.     Other exhibitors are architects Haldane Martin, Johannesburg-based interior designers Tonic (which one hopes will open in Cape Town too), Willowlamp, Zenzulu, Egg Designs, Ronel Jordaan, ZENZULU, and more.  Close by was a collection of small stands dedicated to “Emerging Creatives”, but it is not explained in the Visitors Guide, other than that there are 60 first-time exhibitors, under the heading “New Kids on the Block”.  The Department of Trade and Industry also had a conglomerate pavilion with about ten exhibitors, including Abode Designer, Veldt designers, Zan Zan décor, Drift Furniture, Keiskamma Art, Master Wires and Deesigned Beads.

For the hungry and thirsty Expo-goers, one can buy Woolworths’ coffees and rolls, or buy sandwiches and other foods from the Earth Fair Market.   Grolsch has an interestingly designed stand too.   Whilst I sat down at the table to have my cappuccino, I had the most wonderful experience in reconnecting with Mark Robinson, whom I had last seen twenty years ago when we both consulted to the then Colman Foods.  The lady that took his seat when he left shared a background in PR and marketing with me.   This was another enriching dimension of the Expo. 

Alongside the Design Indaba Expo is the update of the Cape Town Design Route, and this is an exciting longer-term manifestation of Cape Town’s design wealth, in that tourists and locals can visit more than fifty designers in the city throughout the year.   The Cape Town Design Route designers are all exhibiting at the Design Indaba Expo.  The updated Cape Town Design Route 2011 map was lying at the entrance to the exhibition, without one being alerted to this wonderful design highlight.  I had read about the Design Route by chance last year, and this is the first time that I have seen a map for it.  I was so inspired about the Cape Town Design Route at the time that I wrote a blogpost about it, and will write a new one about the Cape Town Design Route 2011.

Film and fashion events take place inside the Expo throughout the exhibition days, and the programme of events is detailed in the Visitors’ Guide.   Childrens’ design and art workshops are also on the programme throughout the weekend.   

Last year the Design Indaba became infamous due to the spectacle Martha Stewart made of herself as the keynote speaker at the Design Indaba Conference – this year the Design Indaba will be remembered for the most wonderful showcase of design in Cape Town!

Design Indaba Expo, Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 465-9966.  www.designindaba.com.  Today 10h00 – 20h00, Sunday 10h00 – 18h00.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage