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April 2012

Cape Town

The southernmost city in Africa, Cape Town has a beautiful European feel at times, with its Cape Dutch architecture, lush vineyards and tall pines. Located at the foot of one of the most spectacular mountain ranges in the world, it turns into a floral paradise during springtime before assuming an air of California in the summer. In the realms of architecture and design, the Cape is on the map more than ever as one of the leading places in African culture. This is a city where everything still seems possible…

Cape Town by Alexandra Meurant

thumb photo: Alexandra Meurant

Text: Marie Le Fort & Sophie Maillot-Juillet (2 last text)

Cape Town or Le Cap:

Inhabitants: 3 497 101
(RSA : 50 590 000)
Area: 2 499 km2
(RSA : 1 219 912 km2)
Capital: legislative of South Africa Republic
Languages: Afrikaans, English and Xhosa

Babylonstoren South Africa


On over 200 hectares of land, Babylonstoren welcomes all lovers of vegetable gardens and orchards. Built on a Cape Dutch farm (which includes a mansion dating from 1777), this B&B Hotel, made up of small whitewashed farm houses and tastefully decorated spaces, offers freshly picked fruit and seasonal salads, gardening classes, and bio-chic meals where you can taste an array of heirloom vegetables. The perfect place to spend a “weekend on the farm”!

Carla Antoni Former model

Carla Antoni

Former model, Carla Antoni has designed a collection of (beautiful) Made in Africa souvenirs that aim to revolutionize the traditional duty free knick-knacks. In doing so, she collaborated with top designers and local artists to create items like this bracelet of wide aluminium ribbons by Ida Elsje, these earth colour espresso cups by Louise Elderbloom, crocodile pochettes by Leather Rose and blown glass vases by David Reade.

 Haldane Martin

Haldane Martin

If there were only one name to remember in the world of South African design, it would be his. At the ripe age of 39, Haldane Martin has been a pioneer both in terms of the local materials he uses and his commitment to disadvantaged communities. In his studio, we discover a series of “weightless” zebrano plywood chairs and the “Zulu Mama chair,” made from recycled and braided plastic following the ancient techniques used by the Zulus to make their baskets. Working closely with the Department of Arts and Culture and NGOs (such as Care Craft and Epilepsy South Africa), Haldane has recently been entrusted with the design of a modular shelf, which, made from South African wood, fixes together with the help of magnets.

Blue Views Cape Town

Blue Views Cape Town

To build flats designed by the contemporary architects that dominate the bay from Bakoven, this was the wager of Tony Stern, owner of Blue Views. In recent years, Tony Stern has invested in the neighbourhood and transformed old buildings into 9 apartments and lofts (managed as a residential hotel) with an untouchable sea view. It’s the South African pied-à-terre that anyone would dream of…

 The Test Kitchen

The Test Kitchen

Housed in the former Old Biscuit Mill that fell into disuse, the The Test Kitchen restaurant has been revealed as the creative laboratory of one of the most celebrated chefs in Africa. Luke Dale-Roberts, formerly in charge of La Colombe, has harnessed his talent to join the league of the top twenty chefs in the world – ranked by San Pellegrino. In a semi-industrial, semi-retro atmosphere, you will dine just as well at the bar as you would at a table, thanks to the nine-course gourmand menu. As for the cooking classes – foodies will not be disappointed! A new genre has been born.

Artemis Wragge, Diana Vives

Artemis Wragge

The story of the founder of Artemis Wragge, Diana Vives, is that of a fictional character. After a childhood in Brazil, an education in both Swiss and British institutions – coupled with a capacity for fluent French – followed by an adult life spent in sunny Cape Town, her luxurious collection of Mongolian cashmere scarves is something quite out of the ordinary. First of all, due to their quality – some woven threads weigh 1g to 250m – and secondly, due to the wide range of colour choices (gunmetal, chartreuse, burnt orange and mushroom). But what is undoubtedly the most surprising, is the literary quality of the prints, which are reminiscent of old vanities and poetry. The collection is already hugely popular with Brown’s London and Selfridges.

Robertson Small Hotel

Robertson Small Hotel

Two hours drive from Cape Town, the Robertson Small Hotel is signalling the rise of the new wine region, at the entrance to the Little Karoo. Housed in a former mansion dating from the beginning of last century, tastefully built at a time when Robertson, the then capital of Austria, was prosperous, the hotel of 10 rooms and suites can be discovered through white spaces, and carefully selected pieces of furniture as well as a collection of contemporary artwork. Installed at the edge of the azure pool facing its Pool Suite, or in a wicker chair on the veranda, watch the large household move to the rhythm of seasonal flowers, Chef Rueben’s market-fresh cooking and carefully mixed cocktails at its little bar. A confidential address to treasure.

False Bay South of Cape Town

False Bay

Not very far from the south of Cape Town, the small town of Muizenberg is nestled in the crux of “False Bay” on the peninsula of the Cape of Good Hope. Considered the birthplace of South African surfing, it has a long sandy beach, which stretches 40km up to Gordon’s Bay. It’s very popular with surfers as well as swimmers because the water is slightly warmer than elsewhere on the Atlantic coast and the waves are less violent. You can’t miss the row of multicoloured Victorian beach huts, a visual reminder of what Cape Town’s first beach was like in the past, still lending a touch of gaiety to the otherwise rather bleak town.
© Alexandra Meurant.



Bo-Kaap, leaning against the hill of ‘Signal Hill’, consists of low houses, some of which are decorated in bold colours. The people are always called Cape Malays, even though they came from a variety of Asian countries. After the abolition of slavery in 1834, the newly freed Asian immigrants settled in this neighbourhood. Gandhi – who was resident in Johannesburg at the time, defending the cause of the Indians – would have encouraged this part of the population to colour their houses as a sign of a newfound liberty. During apartheid, the Cape Malays managed to resist and were not displaced. Bo-Kaap should be explored on a Saturday morning in order to see the locals on the street and on their doorsteps on their day-off.
© Alexandra Meurant.

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