By Tag Christof
Updated October 21, 2014
© Need Supply Co.

The piece originally appeared on

When the New York Times decides you’re the #1 city to visit, you’re definitely doing a few things right. Following in the lofty footsteps of Helsinki, Seoul and Turin, Cape Town is this year’s World Design Capital and is home to the influential Design Indaba conference, which has long been a major voice in design for things more noble than profit. It is a pitiful understatement to call the city beautiful. In fact, Cape Town is an absolute spectacle to behold. From its sweeping vistas of Table Mountain to the technicolor streets of Woodstock to its charming, chunky Cape Dutch architecture.

While there has long been a rather contentious narrative around race issues in Cape Town, its post-apartheid self is without argument one of the most progressive cities in Africa. Afrikaans and Xosha (a Bantu language spoken by about ⅕ of South Africans) are the most widely spoken languages, but as cosmopolitan as the city is, English is everywhere.

We take a look around Cape Town with designer Karin Rae Matthee, the skilled jeweler behind Dear Rae Jewellery.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your work.
I am a jewellery designer and work under the label Dear Rae Jewellery. My husband, Craig Johns, and I work and live in Woodstock. We are both entrepreneurs and own two shops (The Lobby Hair shop and Dear Rae) next to each other in the Woodstock Foundry. In our free time we love to surf, climb the mountain and hang out with friends.

How’s life in Cape Town?
There is so much contagious energy in Cape Town, you can’t help but feel inspired to create. We love the hustle and bustle of the city, but we also enjoy the ease of escaping it with a quick trip to the ocean or mountain.

What brought you here? When did you first arrive?
I was born and brought up in Cape Town. I first moved away when I studied Jewellery Design in Germany. I was very quickly drawn back to the city after my studies, when I started Dear Rae Jewellery.

Where’s the best breakfast in town?
There are so many great spots, but Loading Bay is definitely one of my favorites.

How about your favorite coffee spot?
Deluxe Coffee Works on Church Street.

Do you have a secret hideout anywhere in the city?
The Pipe Track and Table Mountain.

Which is your favorite neighborhood?
Woodstock and Tamboerskloof.

Where do you go (and what do you drink) on a weekend night out?
The Power and the Glory on Kloof Neck. It is a great casual hangout spot for after work drinks, which often ends up being a late night on a Friday.

What sets the city apart from any other city on earth?
The mix of different cultures. It has the raw energy of an African country with refined European touches. People are creative, friendly and expressive. The city comes alive in summer, with endlessly beautiful places to visit and explore.

What should you pack for a summer trip to Cape Town?
Swimming costume, surf board, denim shorts and your favorite pair of sunnies.