Cape Town, with one foot in the Indian Ocean and one foot in the Atlantic, is a swirl of flavors, cultures and temperaments. With strong winds, sunshine and an occasional sharp nip of cold, the unexpected always seems to be around the corner.
So it wasn’t that weird, I guess, when we began stumbling upon Scandinavian design, branding and aesthetic all around town. We, perhaps more than most, are attuned to these particular wavelengths. It was fascinating to see how the sub-Saharan African city with the near-Mediterranean climate has interpreted Nordic cool; minimalism relies less on white space and more on natural materials like wood, ceramic and flora. The tradition of respect around handmade goods comes without the industrial history and is instead surrounded by the country’s journey out of apartheid and into democracy. Design is inseparable from social innovation on a much wider scale (the Scandinavian legacy is too, but it’s far less dramatic).
Scandi isn’t a strong enough word for Loading Bay. With dark wood paneling, muted colors and a combination cafe, clothing store and Aesop retailer, all on different layers of the same space, this place couldn’t get more Nordic-chic. The downstairs cafe serves breakfast and a kickass lunch/dinner that includes fried chicken, burgers and truffle fries. Go one flight up for clothes from the likes of Acne, Our Legacy and The White Briefs. The top floor is dedicated to Aesop body care products. Stop by as much for the products as for the architectural beauty of their floor plan, which marries strong Japanese and Scandinavian influences.
For a Scandi-style clothing store, it really doesn’t get better than this. Nestled on Kloof Street and sharing space together, these two designers are absolutely killing the Cape Town by way of Stockholm vibe. Their stores are worth checking out for their clean and simple showcasing of their beautiful clothes. Find both womenswear and menswear here in natural, high-quality fabrics.
All the Danish clothes. All the bikes. Oh, it is good. We love this teeny-tiny boutique on Long Street for it’s unassuming interior, its love of Danish design and its slightly amped-up independent vibe. Luxe men’s sportswear is the focus here, but if you’re into Scandi cool (you’re reading this, so you probably are) Henry is for you.
Do you have enough yellow ceramic bowls with dinosaurs in the middle? Do ANY OF US? Well, Ceramic Factory is here to help with their irreverent take on classic ceramics home and kitchen goods. Try not to crack a smile as you walk around their light-filled showroom on Kloof Street. With everything from robots to deer to skulls represented in their work, there’s a little bit of something to match everyone’s tastes.
Located on Bree Street, one of the most hopping places in Cape Town, Skinny laMinx has quickly become one of the area’s most beloved shops. Step inside and it’s not hard to see why. With colorful yet simple prints that are reminiscent of Marikmekko yet have a sense of humor all their own, designer and owner Heather Moore has created a special universe that invites customers to touch, feel, and appoint their own space. These are items that make your house into a home and are perfect gifts for the ones you love. High quality material, design and consistency remind us of Scandinavia, while the colors and shaping are distinctly South African. A must-visit!
Ah, the wide open spaces. The vibe in here is minimalism, the focus is on fostering community, and the food is good. If you want somewhere to work outside the office or have a quick meeting, Field Office is a place you can do that without anything inside being too distracting or overwhelming. It’s also a quiet space to have a cup of coffee or a rooibos latte (SO GOOD) on your own. A clean interior with high-quality design and simple, tasty food. It’s a Scandi dream, except that there’s actual sunshine pouring through those windows year-round!
Be sure to check out their interior design as well, paying specific attention to their lighting. It’s all made by Pedersen + Lennard, the design duo who are inspired by clean Scandinavian lines and functionalism while drawing on their South African backgrounds to create spaces that fit with their city perfectly.
Words by Rebecca Thandi Norman
Photos by Freya McOmish