Words by Sanele Mawisa
Whether you’re looking for a cool spot to send out emails, surf the internet or simply have an overpriced sandwich while trolling people on twitter, creative urban spaces are the new wave.
Always filled with creatives from a plethora of disciplines, the growth of creative hubs in South Africa has been exponential. South Africa is in the midst of a cultural and creative renaissance and it has manifested in the need for spaces and/or hubs to house and facilitate this resurgence in the Arts & Culture of our country.
One of the keys to economic growth in South Africa is the necessity of unlocking the immense potential of the creative economy. It has been undervalued and underappreciated for too long and no doubt you’ve heard a story or two of a creative not getting paid what they deserve or chasing up brands/agencies for invoices.
We are, however, experiencing a boom in the creative economy. The brand collaborations involving designers, makeup artists, bloggers, photographers, videographers and stylists is growing exponentially. These spaces are important for the continued growth of the creative economy, as they put like-minded individuals together which naturally brings about creative collaborations and that is when the magic happens.
The common thread is creativity and innovation. “Creativity is intelligence having fun” said one Albert Einstein, and this notion is what creative hubs are built upon. Developing, designing, and creating a space which cultivates and nourishes creativity is pivotal.
What do you expect to find at one of these places? A puzzle of designers, artists, youth culture specialists, social media managers, photographers, social entrepreneurs, film directors and so on. It is a melting pot of art and culture. Businesses include deli’s, coffee shops, hair salons etc.
In South Africa there are a few of these creative hubs that deserve mention and recognition for the role they play in fostering a cultural environment that allows for creative progression, innovation and collaboration.
The Woodstock Exchange is situated on 66 Albert Road, Woodstock, Cape Town. The area of Woodstock has been in a state of urban renewal for a number of years and the flagship of this renewal is the Exchange (as it’s affectionately known). The building is 4 floors and has a retro setting with an elongated open plan style entrance. You can find some of the best salmon you’ve ever tasted at Ocean Jewels, you can get a dope haircut from the professionals at Barnet Fair or you can grab a slab from one of the finest artisanal chocolate shops at Honest Chocolate.
The Field Office:
The Field Office is located at 34 Salisbury Road, Woodstock, Cape Town. You’ll find a variety of personalities from cool kids, tourists, architects, coffee enthusiasts and cyclists. Founded by Luke Pedersen and James Lennard, The Field Office is a meeting place, a place to reflect and a quaint spot to read, eat, stalk or just exist.
If you have never had an Instagram post of yourself sitting on the stoep of Father Coffee in Braamfontein then you need to aesthetic better. Creatives run on coffee and good coffee at that, so this roastery and espresso bar situated squarely in the urban youth culture hub of South Africa is a great spot for like-minded people to meet up. Not exactly an archetypical creative hub but just have a look at their Instagram page and you’ll understand its value to the culture.
Maboneng Precinct, stationed in Maboneng, Johannesburg is an urban neighbourhood which has been redeveloped to create a hub with a culture of thinkers, makers and doers. Home to businesses, housing and creative spaces, the entire area should be acknowledged for its pioneering role in the rise of the urban culture movement in inner city Johannesburg. Mexican restaurants, Greek restaurants, art galleries, coffee shops, clothing stores, nail bars, cycling shops, photography studio amongst a host of other spaces is what you’ll find in this fascinating development.
The vibrancy of the new creative wave is fathered through these eclectic and unique spaces. Whether you’re there for a quiet coffee, work on your blog or to develop a new app, you cannot help but be incredibly inspired by the local creative community.