Braamfontein’s 70 Juta Street and Pieter Hugo

Protea wallpaper

Protea wallpaper

#216. Saturday morning in brilliant sunshine we took a walk along the hip stretch of Juta Street in Braamfontein. Braamfontein’s re-imagining is more than talk and the colourful little complex of stores and offices on 70 Juta Street bears this out [It officially opened last weekend]. We started off at POST for their homemade lemonade and a tasty snack-sized prego roll. With its glass front POST is a perfect spot to sip something while observing street life (in this city of malls and walls that’s a luxury). Continue reading

Shop local with missibaba

#214. Covet beautiful handmade goods from Cape Town handbag label Missibaba. On a trip to Cape Town sometime last year I made a point of tracking down the Missibaba studio – a treasure trove for handbag fetishists. In a world of factory made goods where quality and craft has long been replaced I was seduced by the clutter of ideas, materials and colour and real stitchwork taking place. Now their range is available online through Shop-Label, Cape Town’s answer to Net-A-Porter (the site that puts hot couture in the post). My favourite item right now is the Safari Possum Bag. Very pretty indeed.

New York Fashion Week lands in Joburg

# 199 Shop. The other day I met someone who told me, after I complimented her style, that she is only wearing South African designers. I love that idea and want to take it further.
So to kick off here’s local label Black Coffee’s coat collection fresh from their debut at New York Fashion Week and in store now in Melville.
Gotta get me one of these.
* You can find Black Coffee at Bamboo – “for all things South African” –
53 Rustenburg Road, Melville
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Braamfontein is Joburg’s Soho

194#. Read the New York Times on Braamfontein. The paper of record has called it. Braamfontein is Joburg’s version of New York’s Soho. It has urban edge, lots of design and artistic talent, and a property developer with a real eye for the city’s future. Personally I have always been fond of that neighbourhood, from student days in the early 1990s when I would spend most of my cash (and there wasn’t much of it) at the bookshop on the corner where the Braamfontein Centre now stands (looking back it was literature of the revolution – lots of Fanon, Cabral, Biko. Okay admittedly those were books that real revolutionaries would steal so this is a revealing moment) to cheap and tasty lunches at the Health Scene and a great little Italian joint whose name I don’t recall but whose veal limone I do. Continue reading

Glass design to make your heart smelt

#176. Hum David Bowie’s “Oh you pretty things” while visiting Smelt, the glass studio in Bamboo Centre, Melville. Lots of jewel-coloured hearts and stars, baubles and lamps.

Glass lamps from Smelt

Glass lamps from Smelt

Bamboo Centre has been around so long I forgot what a Joburg gem it was until a friend told me how she had taken her Cape Town visitor there to impress her this weekend – and it worked. So here goes:

Five more good reasons to hang out at Bamboo include:
Love Books, the city’s newest independent book store where you can order wine by the glass, sit back in your chair and browse an eclectic mix of international magazines not seen in many other local stores
Tinsel, where you can spend lots of moolah (and you will) on great South African designed contemporary jewellery
Black Coffee, where the local design duo who seem to have wowed Berlin and New York sell their crafted couture
Service Station for breakfast (probably the best scrambled eggs in the city) and lunch and any meal in between
and the farmer’s market on the first Saturday of every month (for this one I am relying on good authority because getting there by 7am is not top of my weekend agenda)

So there you have it! What’s stopping you?

* For more on Smelt go here. And to find Bamboo online click here.

Crime writer paints Joburg red

#161. Read Daddy’s Girl, the third book in the Clare Hart series written by Cape Town author Margie Orford who came all the way to Sandton City [with its ambience of “hell”] last week to launch it.

“Crime is like hair in Joburg — big and bling,” Orford said. In Joburg it takes 25 men with machine guns to rob the Spar; in Cape Town it takes one guy with a knife.”  She described Cape Town as South Africa’s intellectual centre, and Joburg as its money capital. Continue reading

Why coffee is the key to urban renewal

#158. Go for a city walk. With the John Moffat Building at Wits University celebrating 50 years of being, today was declared a “Grand Day of [architectural] Celebrations”. So we joined the small crowd at the University for an urban walking tour taking in 40 of Joburg’s best historic buildings.
The route started at Brickfields, the social housing development that has transformed Newtown, bringing in high-volume residential accommodation that can sustain all the amenities that make city life worth living – coffee shops, a book shop, art galleries and restaurants. From there we crossed to the Market Theatre (once the Indian fruit market but that was in the the 1930s) to stand in Mary Fitzgerald Square and take in the view of Museum Africa on one side and one of the city’s hostel compounds for its mineworkers (now the Worker’s Museum) that was built in the late 1800s. Then this place was a crazy tented camp town that probably (to my mind anyway) looked and felt a lot like Deadwood Continue reading

Black Coffee in Berlin

#128. Watch SA designers rock Berlin. The awesome duo who heads Black Coffee were in Berlin to show their Spring/Summer 2010 collection – part of their prize for winning the Mercedes-Benz SA Award for Fashion Design 2009 which I wrote about earlier this year.

For more on the thinking behind the collection – go The Frock Report. To see more of the collection click here.
* The Black Coffee store is in the Bamboo Centre, cnr 9th Street and Rustenburg Rd, Melville

My Southern Valentine

#83: Head South. Really. Down Rifle Range Road and near Columbine Ave (and they wonder why I think the South of Joburg sounds dangerous), we  went to The Glen Shopping Centre for a Valentine’s dinner. Turns out that besides for Christmas, V-day is the biggest day on The Glen’s calendar.  And there were enough women in red and teenagers necking or smoking in dark alleyways to prove it. Continue reading

The Joburg book

#65. Get The Joburg Book – a guide to this city of “thieves and dreamers”. The Joburg Book, edited by Nechama Brodie of The Hunter Gatherer fame is more than a history book and more than a guide. Just released it’s a collection of writings about how this city came about ( a giant meteorite figures in the story), the nature of its contemporary life, its people and its food (it even contains a Biryani recipe for feeding 800 people) and its constant need for its own reinvention. And through it all runs a seam of gold that has shaped this place into what it is today — a magnet for fortune-seekers and adventurers, at times a refuge and at others a city under seige.

joburg-book.jpg

It’s still the same city that Herman Charles Bosman wrote about, saying: “They are trying to make Johannesburg respectable. They are trying to make snobs out of us, making us forget who our ancestors were. They are trying to make us lose our sense of pride in the fact that our forebears were a lot of roughnecks who knew nothing about culture and who came here to look for gold”.

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