If you’re in Cape Town – and it’s a pretty good place to find yourself in during the chilly European winter – and you’d like to find some sophisticated South African mementos to take home, Africa Nova, down near the waterfront, is a wonderful place to start. As its name implies, it sells African-inspired designs of every kind, but the “eye” and the “taste” behind the shop is exceptional.
The selection is brilliantly eclectic; some things are rooted deep in Africa’s oldest traditions, others are by modern African designers. There are cushions covered in tribal fabrics from all over Africa (first picture) sitting alongside contemporary jewellery made from gold, silver and resins. There are Ronel Jordaan’s trompe l’oeil rock cushions, made of grey felt; a little group of three piled high look exactly like a pile of stones (third picture). Not cheap at about £150 for a middling-sized cushion, but utterly original and rather lovely.
And look out for jewellery by Philippa Green – she does gorgeous perspex cuffs (third picture), each one different. Some sport hand-stitched messages; one that I bought directly from her for about £60 when she was still a student has a St-Exupéry quote stitched in black on white resin: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye”. Others have pretty little cameos inset – I recently bought from Africa Nova a beautiful cuff made of clear perspex with a sweet cameo on the front (around £100). There are also some good pieces of proper tribal art (second picture). So a truly eclectic selection but all of it authentically connected to Africa, all of it chosen with care and love.