The Maboneng Precinct, Johannesburg CBD East
Take a previously run down city warehousing district and marry it to the creative energy of developer Jonathan Liebmann and acclaimed sustainable architect Enrico Daffonchio, and Maboneng, “the place of light”, is born.
This precinct is the heartbeat of the creative energy of Johannesburg’s urban artists, and has also drawn some very well-known established artists to house their studios and high end art galleries, all of which hold regular exhibitions.
Fashion designers, like Black Coffee, film studios and independent movie house, the Bioscope, draws the chic, arty crowd from the northern suburbs and the locals alike, to enjoy the cultural oasis, coffee shops, restaurants and vibey atmosphere.
There are a number of re-furbished buildings incorporated into the precinct, with Arts on Main and Main Street Life forming the hub. Walk along the upgraded tree-lined pavements in Fox Street, enjoy the commissioned public artworks, and you will realise that in a few years’ time, developers will have transformed all the buildings into beautiful working and living environments.
Arts on Main (Corner Fox / Main / Berea Streets)
The first re-refurbishment in Maboneng is a New York style upgrade of a series of warehouses, retaining the industrial feel, with a metal fire escape leading to a second floor balcony view of the city. The internal courtyard, with lemon trees and olive grove, is the perfect place to enjoy serenity in the city, accompanied by a salad, croissant or sandwich from the continental deli, Canteen.
The complex offers private art studios, including that of world-renowned South African artist William Kentridge and galleries include Bailey Seippel Gallery, Goodman Gallery Projects, Goethe on Main, Math Room, Nirox Projects and Studio 23.
Fashion boutiques to visit are Black Coffee Clothing and Love Jozi Fashion. The store combines the fashion genius of world recognized fashion designer Black Coffee, and local T Shirt satirist Love Jozi.
Other interesting shops are David Krut Art Book-store and art supplies, Bailey’s African Art History Archives, Galleries Africa Contemporary Forum specialising in design goods from Africa and Work Design for custom furniture.
Eateries are Canteen Restaurant, serving light lunches and heartier options. Tel: 011 334 5947. Open Tues, Wed & Sunday, 8h00 – 16h00; Thursday- Saturday, 8h00 – late.
The Market on Main takes over Arts on Main, every Sunday from 10h00 – 15h00. With a focus on a distinctly Jozi offering, this is a foodies delight. On the first Thursday of each month, Market on Main has over 50 food traders offering everything from gourmet burgers and authentic Asian cuisine to sweet treats.
Art on Main’s Thursday night cocktails and Sunday in the City are fast becoming a not to be missed attraction with a New York state of mind.
Business hours here are rather unconventional. The entire complex is closed on Mondays. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays trading hours are from 10h00 to 16h00; Thursdays the complex stays open from 10h00 until 20h00, Fridays and Saturdays, from 10h00 to 16h00 and Sundays from 10h00 to 14h00.
Street parking is at a premium so be prepared to have to park a couple of blocks away, in which case, don’t pay the (self -appointed) parking attendant in advance, and rather tell him you’ll give him a ‘good bonsela’ (bonus) on your return. There are plans to build Off the Grid parking across the road.
Danish Classics, located across the road from Arts on Main (on Berea Street) is a treasure trove of Classic Danish furniture pieces, with some surprises scattered in between. Open 7 days a week from 10h00- 16h00.
Main Street Life (286 Fox Street)
Further east along Fox Street from Arts on Main is Main Street Life – a 1970s industrial building refurbished to be home to the 12 Decades Hotel, the Bioscope theatre and a mix of studio/workspaces and apartments that service fashion designers, graphic designers, architects, interior designers and film producers.
On the ground floor is The Bioscope, Johannesburg’s only independent cinema. Open every night of the week, it screens unique and diverse local films and documentaries, international and classic films that don’t usually make it to the mainstream cinema circuit and showcases the creative talent of Johannesburg through talks and live music performances. Once a month they host the ‘Noodlebox series’ – guests get the opportunity to watch a classic film while, at the same time enjoying noodles from Lucky Moo Chinese eatery. Another regular monthly event is TV Dinners when the Bioscope screens old episodes of popular TV series while traditional TV dinners are served. Booking and program.
At the entrance is the Main Street Life Art Gallery and on the top floor, the 12 Decades hotel which is one of Johannesburg’s only authentic Art hotels, chronicling the history of Johannesburg from 1886- 2006 with rooms designed and conceptualised by some of South Africa’s most celebrated artists and designers.
In the building is POPArt, an 80-seater theatre offering a unique theatre experience with a reputation for premièring cutting edge pieces of a variety of styles by up and coming and experienced performers.
Shows generally have a running time of about 50 minutes, and beverages of all kinds are allowed in the theatre… so if you we’re expecting a stuffy theatre experience, POPArt is not that sort of place.
Restaurants include Pata Pata, a 1950s-style diner offering gourmet meals and live entertainment. Open daily from 7h00 – late. Tel: 011 070 8853 and Chalkboard, a popular pizza, bagels and craft beer experience. Tel: 011 039 7306. Open daily from 8am till late.
Other shops include Work Design for custom made furniture, a local design initiative as well as an interior design label. Work retail stocks their original furniture items as well as furniture pieces and fabrics produced in collaboration with and inspired by artists including Marcus Neustetter and Lorrenzo Nassimbeni.
Fox Street Studios (280 Fox Street)
Fox Street Studios is an exclusive live/ work studio complex with 4 open plan units, a rooftop unit and ground floor retail.
The studios house the offices of Daffonchio and Associates Architects, Studio X and Urban Works.
Serai interiors is a design store with furniture and home decor pieces with a difference. In house interior design services are available at the store. Open Tuesday – Sunday from 10h00 – 16h00.
Ozlo Urban stocks their own Urban wear label as well as plenty of home grown fashion labels and accessories. See Love2Hate and Faeeza Khan, two labels owned by residents in Maboneng. Open Tuesday – Sunday from 10h00 – 16h00.
Eateries include Little Addis Traditional Ethiopian eatery – serving their famous platters, as well as traditional Ethiopian specialities, Little Addis is a must try food experience. Open Tuesday – Sunday from 11h00. Tel: 082 683 8675. Another foodie experience here is the Eat your Heart out Deli.
The Main Change (20 Kruger Street)
Developed from a 1970′s industrial warehouse, The Main Change has been redeveloped to house a range of office spaces in the Maboneng Precinct.
There are also two main fashion boutiques. On the rise as one of SA’s most celebrated femme fashion labels is Anisa Mpungwe’s Loin Cloth and Ashes. Her flagship store is located on the ground floor of the Main Change, stocking original LCA, Morphe and fantastic accessories. Open Tuesday – Sunday from 10h00 – 16h00. Brandz.co.za, as the name suggests, stocks a wide range of popular brands with huge discounts on denim wear, sneakers, sweaters, sunglasses and more. Visit the store Tuesday – Sunday between 10h00 – 16h00.
Eateries include House of Baobab West African Diner specialising in traditional dishes from Pan African countries; The Blackanese Sushi and Wine Bar which has a full menu of delightful sushi as well as special creations and a noodle bar; The Living Room is a health food restaurant with a difference. Surrounded by greenery on a rooftop with a spectacular view, enjoy fresh food and juices as well as cocktails. Open on selected days only, so call 084 529 9006 for bookings.
Revolution House (Corner Main and Kruger Streets)
New Brow Art and Mens fashion at Revolution House blends art and fashion and stocks a range of clothing items produced in collaboration with artists. Open Tuesday – Sunday from 10h00- 16h00.
Film and Sound Studios, Revolution Barber for an excellent grooming session and Terres D’ Afrique Beauty Products are all tenants.
Sharp, Gourmet Braai & Shisa nyama stand, (just around the corner on Kruger Street), cook up a storm at their shisanyama stand. It’s especially great when you’re running late, as it’s pretty fast food. Tel: 079 983 0385.
MOAD (281 Commissioner Street)
MOAD is the Museum of African Design- a multi disciplinary exhibition, event and performance space which has been developed from a factory warehouse built in the 1920′s and features floor space of over 1500 square metres, with 15M high ceilings, ground floor retail and on site workshop space for artist/ artisan collaboration. Tel: 083 327 1217.
Uncle Merv’s (Corner Fox & Kruger Streets) Original shakes, coffee & light meals: Tel: 011 024 3127 / 073 211 5127: Open daily 7h00 – 16h00.
Other excellent attractions Johannesburg East End
Absa Money Museum
The Absa Money Museum is the place to get an understanding of how financial transactions in South Africa progressed from the exchange of highly prized goods such as salt, seashells, metal and animals for services rendered over 4500 years ago, to the modern banking we have today.
Jewel City has over 300 diamond dealers and the Diamond Board all in one place, so if your mission is to look at some cut and polished diamonds, join the over 500 daily visitors to this six block home of diamonds.
If you are a book lover, or an intrepid searcher for memorabilia, then the Collectors Treasury is made for you. This very unusual family business houses so many books that reports quote figures of one to two million. In additions to rare books, there are over 300000 vinyls and other vintage paraphernalia like maps, photographs, old engravings and prints, sheet music, periodicals and newspapers. Address: 244 Commissioner Street, close to Phillip Street.
The Fashion District in the east end of Johannesburg city, stretching from Troye Street to Goud Street along Pritchard and President Streets, must be one of the most underestimated shopping venues in Jozi. The re-furbished district houses more than 300 fashion-related micro-businesses, with seamstresses and tailors from across southern Africa. Here you can find the same high fashion as in the boutiques of Sandton and Rosebank, but the prices look altogether different – better, much better.
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