From ancient to contemporary design, Cape Town has it all. See stone tools and African beadwork at the Iziko South African Museum, and a wide variety of local and international art and sculpture displayed at the many art galleries scattered throughout Cape Town, including South Africa’s National Art Gallery. South Africa’s Mother City pipped Dublin and Bilbao to become designated World Design Capital for 2014, a status awarded biennially by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design to cities using design for social, cultural and economic development.

As the oldest city in South Africa, many original architectural designs remain in living testament to its colonial past, the oldest being the Castle of Good Hope, a blend of medieval and 17th-century architecture. Other early edifices include Auwal, the country’s first mosque, founded in 1797; the city’s neo-classical Renaissance-style City Hall; and the magnificent St George’s Cathedral. Restored to its former functionality, the Josephine Mill’s iron waterwheel grinds flour as it did back in the 1800s, and the Newlands Brewery remains true to more than a century of brewing excellence. Echoing the brightly coloured beach huts that define Muizenberg’s seafront, the Muslim-inspired Bo-Kaap is world-renowned for its cobbled streets and rainbow-coloured terraced homes. Not far away, trendsetters will love the Soho feel of De Waterkant, with its revamped 19th-century homes, while purists are likely to prefer the classic gabled Cape Dutch homesteads that dot the Winelands.

A touch of art nouveau can be seen in the Mutual Heights building, with its triangular windows and detailed relief; or, for a design incorporating sound, light and cutting-edge technology, visit the Iziko Planetarium. Appreciate ancient design in 120 000-year-old stone tools and authentic African beadwork at the Iziko South African Museum, and a heritage of European art, sculpture and modern installations at the National Gallery. Or visit one of the many other art galleries scattered around the city.

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) situated in the prestigious Silo Precinct at the V&A Waterfront, is a public not-for-profit contemporary art museum which collects, preserves, researches, and exhibits twenty-first century art from Africa and its Diaspora; hosts international exhibitions; develops supporting educational and enrichment programmes; encourages intercultural understanding; and guarantees access for all. Over one hundred galleries, spread over nine floors, are dedicated to a large cutting edge permanent collection; temporary exhibitions; and Centres for Art Education, Curatorial Excellence, Performative Practice, Photography, the Moving Image, and the Costume Institute.

Innovative local design is evident at Iziko lo Lwazi’s, where handmade paper incorporates seaweed, mielies, reeds and dung, while its beaded dog collars are sought after. The Khayelitsha Craft Market showcases traditional African pottery, beadwork, baskets and fabric painting, while the Montebello Design Centre markets a host of arts and craft studios, workshops and more. For home-grown chic and classy clothing or accessories, try Imagenius, Hip Hop, and other fashion outlets. Long Street has wonderful shops with vintage and edgy clothing. Original T-Bag Designs has created an innovative range of greeting cards, artwork and handmade products.