Or at least, in the Cape town seaside suburb of Muizenberg. Much has been made of Cape Town being the World Design Capital 2014 and the city itself topping many lists as the most desirable destination in 2014 (see previous post). What is interesting is the effect it has been having on many Capetonians and how the power of good design and art is revitalising this once down at heel seaside resort.

With the Design Capital motto of “Live Design; Transform Life” serving as a leitmotif, Muizenberg is experiencing an unprecedented and exciting wave of investment, community involvement and physical regeneration. Once run down and derelict corners and buildings have morphed into vibrant areas of activity.

The dead corner and buildings beside the railway station have been transformed since the opening of Stoked Backpackers last year. The entire roadside wall of this Victorian building now hosts a vibrant mural of a surfer running into the ocean with board in hand. This investment has encouraged many foreign backpackers to come which in turn has accelerated other investment. The Slow Life Cafe (which opened shortly after), which is a pescetarian restaurant, has enjoyed much positive comment; as much for its vibe as for its food.

Another example of this revitalisation is the previously grubby corner opposite Muizenberg Pavilion. Investment by the landlords and a dynamic tenant in Surfstore Africa have transformed this corner beyond recognition. A completely open shopfront welcomes and invites people to browse, to look, to speak, to relax and exchange ideas. A large and amusing mural of a sunglass wearing giraffe encourages a certain lightheartedness in passers by.

Murals are also spreading in doors. The Dos Vacas Tex-Mex Cafe on Beach Road and the soon to be opened Swim For Life swimming school in Atlantic Road have also invested in this vibrant art form.

Much excitement is being generated about the new bronze surfer statue in the middle of Surfers Corner. This bronze figure will dominate its surroundings and will hopefully act as a beacon and an iconic structure symbolising the rebirth of Muizenberg as a destination of choice.

The Muizenberg Festival is being held in October. In their own words “the festival is an opportunity to see what happens when we maximise the resources, connections, skills, talents and collective power of our community.” As part of this collaboration, the ‘Made in Muizenberg’ showcase shop has opened in Palmer Road to concentrate and highlight some of the energy of local artists and designers of all kinds.

The Design Capital impetus is crystallizing many ideas and investment which have been in genesis over the last few years. What is for sure, is that Muizenberg is being positively impacted by all this energy and the years of decline will become just a faded memory.

Design in Cape Town by Nicolas Edwards

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