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Cape Town: Art & Design

Visitors from around the world are drawn to Cape Town for its welcoming climate, holiday attractions and natural beauty. Increasingly, however, people are also being attracted to the city’s art and design scene. Cape Town’s growing collection of museums, galleries and events has made the city one of the continent’s leading hubs of creativity.


CYRUS KABIRU / COURTESY OF ZEITZ MOCAA

Cyrus Kabiru at Zeitz MOCAA

Self-taught Kenyan artist Cyrus Kabiru has gained international recognition for his unique creations, especially his “C-Stunners,” a collection of over-the-top metallic eyewear sculptures made from recycled materials. Kabiru is among dozens of the leading African artists whose work is featured in the recently opened Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, located in the popular Victoria & Alfred Waterfront area. As the continent’s first large-scale museum devoted to African contemporary art, the Zeitz MOCAA’s spacious galleries feature a vast array of paintings, sculptures and multimedia installations.



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First Thursdays Art Walk

As Cape Town increasingly becomes recognized as a player in the global art scene, it can be hard for locals — let alone tourists — to keep up with the dizzying number of art venues springing up across the city. To the rescue comes the First Thursdays art walk: a unique way to experience the city’s best galleries and cultural events on foot, after dark, with dozens of other participants. Held on the first Thursday of every month, the event is free to attend. Simply visit the website first-thursdays.co.za, select a starting point, and pick up a printed map at your first destination. If you need a refreshment break during your expedition, don’t worry: Several bars and restaurants are included on the path as well.



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V&A Waterfront

Located on the picturesque Table Bay Harbor, the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is a shopping, dining and entertainment complex that attracts over 23 million visitors per year. In addition to housing outposts from leading international fashion and consumer-product brands, the V&A Waterfront is also home to dozens of shops featuring the work of designers from South Africa and across the continent. From apparel to artwork to home goods, visitors will find an endless selection of unique products to take home from this shopping emporium.

For details about Stable, another design-conscious shop within the city shining the spotlight on South African talent, see our roundup of Design-Conscious Collectives.



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Sneaker Exchange Cape Town

For the growing community of athletic footwear collectors known as “sneakerheads,” the last reason for buying a new pair of shoes is to wear them. Collectors focus on acquiring unique and hard-to-find shoes, sometimes preserving them in museum-like setups. South Africa’s resale market for premium sneakers (known locally as “takkies”) is booming, largely because of Sneaker Exchange — an annual event in April that draws over 3,000 buyers, sellers and traders. (SXC events are also held in Johannesburg and Durban.) Founded in 2013, SXC has grown from a simple trading event to a full-on production with food vendors, entertainment, live sneaker customizations, and even an on-site barber. For information, contact sneakerexchangeza@gmail.com.



COURTESY OF DESIGN INDABA

Design Indaba

In 2014, the World Design Organization selected Cape Town as its World Design Capital, allowing the city to host a year-long celebration of design for an international audience. For many in the global design industry, however, Cape Town was already a familiar destination, thanks to the city’s hosting of one of the world’s premier design events: Design Indaba. Held every March, the Design Indaba Festival offers educational programs, networking events and exhibitions spanning virtually every field of contemporary creativity, including film, music, architecture and digital media. Design Indaba also includes an online publication and a social enterprise “Do Tank,” which seeks to use design to help low-income communities. 


To find travel packages to South Africa and to book your Cape Town holiday, go to www.ethiopianholidays.com.