Cape Town’s newest retail hotspot, Design Lab has officially opened

Boasting innovative designer names and exclusive products and designs, Design Lab is a summer staple! Eight promising creative brands have been brought together in a living retail ‘lab’ – and just in time to meet festive demand.

Design Lab opened in bustling Watershed, in the iconic V&A Waterfront district. The Design Lab shelves contain handmade leather jewelry from Nondwe Nyathi, bespoke linen and housewares from Jenine Allchin, and the work of several members of Our Workshop in Langa, supported by renowned local designer Heath Nash .

Our Workshop offer includes: custom painted and embroidered clothing from Anelle Nono; wall hangings from Malibongwe Nohesi; wooden bowls and trays by Ado Ludidi; recycled e-waste jewelry and wall trophy heads from Sizwe Shumane; beaded candelabra, wire animals and trophy heads by Richard Mandongwe; and recycled pendant lights and wall hangings by Heath Nash. In essence, the “lab” is a different concept store. It’s a must-have for a fresh style that’s proudly “Made in Cape Town”.

All of these rising brands have embarked on the path of commercial success through a collaboration between the Craft and Design Institute (CDI) and V&A Waterfront, with additional support from Business and Arts South Africa (BASA). Now, with the help of the hearts and pockets of the public, these creators can leave their mark on the industry.

CDI X V&A Waterfront created Design Lab with precisely this factor in mind. It is more than a showcase where selected companies will gain hands-on store management experience. This is an annual program, initiated in April 2021, which supports creatives with dedicated support through training and mentoring.

Before the first generation of Design Lab entrepreneurs could seize the retail opportunity, they walked through all aspects of selling products in their own space, with training provided by CDI. For each of the eight designers involved, the learning process has been personalized. One-on-one business evaluations, hands-on product support, sales training and mentoring, were coupled with comprehensive on-site training around store management, including merchandising and styling, sales techniques and management. etiquette, banking, inventory and point of sale.

Once the first year is over, it is hoped that these eight companies will “switch” to their own stand-alone stores at Watershed. Design Lab will then welcome a new generation of designers needing to break into the industry.

The watershed is the ultimate start-up ground for new creative ventures. This is a beautiful and vibrant space located in South Africa’s premier tourist destination, where more than 150 tenants offer more than 365 brands to visitors. These include ceramics, textiles, furniture, fashion and jewelry. All of this makes it the perfect location for the Design Lab, where the eclectic mix of undiscovered products and the appeal of new names to the design scene add richness and excitement to the watershed. Head to the V&A waterfront district and discover all that is fresh and fabulous at the Design Lab!

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Facebook: @TheCraftDesignInstitute


  • @vandawaterfront
  • @vandawatershed
  • @bizart_za
  • @ourworkshopct

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