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Newtown: the only place to be this festive season

  • 18 December 2015

It’s one of Joburg’s best-kept secrets – for now. It has history and culture and beer and food and some of the best shopping you’ll ever experience – all rolled into one. It’s the new addition to the Newtown Junction mall and, this festive season, it really is the only place to be.

Fortunately, the red bus is just the thing to get you there.

Get all your Christmas shopping done at WORK | SHOP | NEW | TOWN this festive season. Photo by City Sightseeing

There have been some exciting new developments in the Newtown Junction lately. Located (obviously) in Newtown, this shopping mall has recently seen the arrival of a groundbreaking retail space sure to satisfy the most discerning of shoppers, WORK | SHOP | NEW | TOWN, as well as a chic, modern restaurant, the Potato Shed. Both these spaces (situated side by side) tip their hats to the history of the site – the vegetable and livestock storage space that it was originally used as in 1911.

This historic area of Newtown dates to the early 20th century, when it was used as a storage area and market place. Photo by City Sightseeing

The modern-day reincarnation retains this marketplace legacy, but enhances it with a supremely cool and funky vibe.

WORK | SHOP | NEW | TOWN is a 1 200m2 design destination featuring around 40 stalls with a focus on cutting-edge local fashion, design and lifestyle brands, and creative services such as a tailor, a barbershop and a tattoo parlour.

Sleek, distinctly African fashion abounds at WORK | SHOP | NEW | TOWN. Photo by City Sightseeing

There's plenty of stuff for the little ones, too. Photo by City Sightseeing

The space was conceptualised and curated by SOURCE, the South African design company founded by Trevyn and Julian McGowan of Southern Guild, GUILD and Design Network Africa. The McGowans also curated the hugely successful V&A Waterfront’s Watershed, and many of the same designers can now be found in both spaces.

Says Julian McGowan: “We wanted to confront visitors with a sophisticated homage to past glories, and this groundbreaking retail environment is divided into designated areas, shops and booths that pay tribute to the goldmines, markets, livestock stalls, cultural icons, industry and office workers that made Newtown the gateway to the city over 100 years ago.”

Some of the country's most established jewellery designers will attract the eye of any magpie. Photo by City Sightseeing

From intricate silver jewellery to bold and daring necklaces, WORK | SHOP | NEW | TOWN has something for every taste. Photo by City Sightseeing

Says Adri van Zyl of Atelier Interiors, who created the architectural concept with McGowan, “Working within a heritage space, you’re given the rare opportunity to take something old and familiar and create something exciting, new and relevant. But the trick is to add to the story and not just retell it.”

Some of the labels featured at WORK | SHOP | NEW | TOWN include Black Coffee, Kat van Duinen, Kisua, African Image, Love Jozi and Hey Gorgeous. (There’s still space for more vendors, however, so if this sounds like your kind of thing, contact WORK | SHOP | NEW | TOWN today).

Handmade leatherwork at WORK | SHOP | NEW | TOWN. Photo by City Sightseeing

Sahil Harilal, sales assistant at Kat van Duinen, says, “Building on the success of the Watershed in Cape Town, the same group of people have opened up WORK | SHOP | NEW | TOWN, which is where we are based now. We’re very excited to be involved in an orgnaisation that’s so excited to bring local design to not only local people but to the world stage, situating it in very high tourist destinations. We’re very excited with the space and to be a part of it.”

Harry Sithole, the owner of African Image, has been at the Watershed in Cape Town for several years. Speaking of his experience there, he says, “Generally around this time of the year, around the festive season, we get a lot of people from Johannesburg and they always make comments about how much they love our stuff, and ask if we have a shop in Johannesburg. So when this came up, we jumped on the wagon.”

WORK | SHOP | NEW | TOWN, he says, “is a nice vibe, the environment is cool ... The set-up is amazing, it’s nicely curated.”

Harry Sithole's African Image offers South African curios of exceptional quality. Photo by City Sightseeing

If you need a bit of a break after all that shopping, be sure to stop at the Potato Shed for a bite to eat. In fact, while you’re in the neighbourhood, we recommend that you create your own beer route by stopping off at the SAB World of Beer (just one stop before the Newtown Junction) for a beer tour and tasting before hopping off at the Potato Shed for a sampling of some of South Africa’s local craft beers.

The World of Beer is open throughout the festive season and will only be closed on Christmas Day, 25 December. The Potato Shed will be open for lunch on 24 and 31 December, but not for dinner, and will be closed on 25 December and 1 January. Aside from that, they’re open, and serving up some seriously good food and beer.

The Potato Shed offers a range of exceptional local craft beers. Photo by City Sightseeing

WORK | SHOP | NEW | TOWN is open seven days a week: Mondays to Fridays from 11am to 7pm, Saturdays from 10am to 7pm, and Sundays from 10am to 4pm. It is also open throughout the festive season, closing only on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Since the red bus will be running every single day during the holiday season, getting to and from all the sites in and around Newtown will be as easy as (mince) pie.

Hop off the City Sightseeing red bus at Newtown Junction today. Photo by City Sightseeing