Our Weekend With series looks at the world through the eyes of a designer on their days off. Last time, illustrator and animator Julian Glander showed us his favorite haunts in Pittsburgh, PA. For this next installment, Ravi Naidoo, founder of Interactive Africa and the Design Indaba conference, describes his ideal weekend in Cape Town, South Africa. This week marks the 25th anniversary of the annual event, and so Naidoo tells us about all the things he’ll be doing to wind down once the conference comes to an end.
“Saturday mornings are easy. One of the greatest features of Cape Town is its outdoors: I often say that the best things to do here are free. There’s no need to go to the mall and there’s huge incentive to be outside. And so my Saturday morning ritual celebrates the outdoors with a run along the coastline.
“I start my run at Glen beach and go all the way past Clifton, which is a strip that’s a bit like Malibu or an African Rivera. It’s beautiful and I’ll never grow tired of it. When I run here, I feel like I’m really hooked into the Cape Town grid. You’ve got the Atlantic Ocean to your left, and then the sweeping mountains to your right—from Lion’s Head to Twelve Apostles to Table Mountain.
“I’ve been running along this stretch for a long time, and I often share the ritual with Design Indaba speakers by inviting them on morning runs with me. I started this ritual with Michael Bierut originally, back in the days when he was hosting the conference. Michael runs daily in his hometown, so I started running with him to be a good host. Now we do it every morning of the conference, even if we’ve had a bender the night before. Stefan Sagmeister has said that he met two of his closest friends on one of our morning runs.
There’s a long standing tradition of great breakfast and brunch spots in Cape Town
“There’s a long standing tradition of great breakfast and brunch spots in Cape Town, so after my jog, I’ll head to one of them. Sometimes I go to a Jewish deli named Kleinsky’s, which does the best bagels in town and has a certain aura around it, with very New York-y branding. Or I’ll head to Between Us, which is in a converted Cape Dutch building on the very hip Bree Street. It’s owned by two sisters who did the renovations themselves, and has gorgeous panoramic views. I usually order oats with honeycomb, cashew butter, and fruit compote.
“If I want a smoothie for breakfast, I’ll go to a hole in the wall called Nourish’d. Or, if I’m feeling particularly self-indulgent, I’ll head to Enmasse for a shiatsu massage. The interior aesthetics of the place are very cool—all white and blue, and they give you these white cotton outfits to wear while you lie on a futon for the massage. It’s a nice little urban retreat in the middle of the city.
“I like to go beyond a short urban retreat, too. One of the things I always do after Design Indaba is go out into the Bush. I divert all of my emails to my PA and I get off the grid entirely. So I’ll be spending my first weekend after the conference getting ready for my trip. I do this by going to Just Like Papa, a store run by an outdoor enthusiast and part-time lumberjack named Tomas. He has stories for days and is exactly the person you’d trust about anything to do with the outdoors. He’ll sell you gear that’s right for really, really taking on the outdoors. The Bush isn’t for sissies, it can get quite elemental and you need the right equipment for hiking, walking, and camping.
I do an African version of Thanksgiving once a year where I make a list of all the people that have had an impact in my life, and we go out together to see the lions, leopards, elephants
“I try to go to the Bush twice a year. I do an African version of Thanksgiving once a year where I make a list of all the people that have had an impact in my life, and we go out together to see the lions, leopards, elephants, and the amazingly unique fauna and flora. Time gets so elastic out there—three days can feel like seven days somewhere else. It’s just majestic. Big sky, a beautiful canopy of stars. My favorite place to go around Cape Town is three hours from the city: The Kruger National Park, which is as large as Switzerland.
“After stocking up on my gear, I’ll head to my favorite dinner spot, Ellerman House, which is run by a good friend of mine. It’s a very interesting space. At the turn of the previous century, the house was owned by one of the richest men in the UK and it was his summer retreat. It’s real claim to fame is that it has one of the best private collections of art that you’ll ever see anywhere in South Africa. When you walk into the entry, you’ll see three Irma Sterns at the landing; she’s one of the most famous artists to have come out of the country.
“Dinner is designed by Peter Tempelhoff, an amazing South African restaurateur that spent most of his youth in Boston. I like to eat in the wine gallery, because the space is a homage to our wine industry. South Africa has been making wine since the 1660s, and so we have a long heritage. In the gallery, there’s a wall called the Terrior Wall created by the artist Angus Taylor, which is made of a grid of squares filled with soil from all of the best wine estates in the country. The grid of copper blocks are organized by the GPS coordinates of the estates: When you look at it, you see the terrior of the South African wine industry. I’ll finish the evening in the garden, watching the sun dip down into the Atlantic Ocean.
“Sunday’s start with another morning ritual—putting the Bialetti onto the stove and letting the coffee’s aroma waft through my home. On Sundays, brunch is always made at home. We’ll settle down with the newspapers—the weekend newspapers in South Africa and the Financial Times’ art sections are my staples. I protect my Sunday’s: They’re non-negotiably family time. We’ll go for walks in the afternoon. Cape Town’s sights and scenery are so beautiful: We’ll just point in one direction and start walking.”