Dezeen and MINI World Tour: in the second part of our tour around Cape Town, Design Indaba founder Ravi Naidoo shows us the former industrial suburb of Woodstock, which the city's design community has recently made its home, and explains the importance of upcycling in South African design.
"If you have 36 hours in Cape Town and time is at a premium, you have to head down to Woodstock," says Naidoo. It is an area of Cape Town three kilometres from the city centre that has undergone an "extreme makeover" in recent years and is now home to an array of arts, craft, fashion and design studios and shops, as well as cafés and restaurants.
Naidoo takes us to The Old Biscuit Mill, a 19th-century biscuit factory in the heart of Woodstock, which was redeveloped in 2005 by Kristof Basson Architects, and where many of the designers that present their work at theDesign Indaba Expo are now based. It also hosts a weekly food market that draws crowds from across the city every Saturday.
The Old Biscuit Mill recently underwent its second phase of redevelopment, converting the old flour silo into six storeys of mixed-use space, which now houses the Cape Town Creative Academy as well as a new penthouse restaurant called The Pot Luck Club by leading South African chef Luke Dale-Roberts.
Down the road from The Old Biscuit Mill, Naidoo also shows us a more recent development called the The Woodstock Exchange, another converted industrial building which aims to offer affordable studio and retail space for the creative industries.
Throughout Woodstock you can find examples of products made from discarded waste materials: furniture constructed out of scrap wood; mirrors made out of old doors; chairs upholstered with disused coffee sacks. Naidoo believes this approach is thematic of South African design. "There's always been an acknowledgement [in South Africa], especially when we had sanctions, that we need to cobble things together with sticky tape and bubble gum," he explains. "There's this element of resourcefulness - of taking trash or waste and giving it a new utility - that's been here for years, even before it became fashionable to upcycle."
"We spent most of the medieval era trying to find the philosopher's stone that was going to convert pig iron into gold, and I think the alchemy of the 21st Century is to convert waste into things of utility and extend the life of objects," Naidoo continues. "You'll find that in abundance in South Africa."