Tiaan Nagel’s art collector-inspired store in Johannesburg

Tiaan Nagel has partnered with interior-architecture studio Tonic Design on a new flagship store in Johannesburg's Hyde Park Corner

Brown coloured interior of Tiaan Nagel flagship
(Image credit: Designer Tiaan Nagel)

To mark his return to fashion after a creative hiatus in media, South African designer Tiaan Nagel has partnered with interior-architecture studio Tonic Design to create a new flagship store in Johannesburg. Located in Hyde Park Corner, a mall in the city’s affluent northern suburbs, the chocolate-coloured boutique is primarily a showcase for Nagel’s garments, a stylish melding of oriental and occidental design traditions made with rare fabrics sourced on trips to mills in India, Ireland and Italy.

The store, which has oak floorboards throughout, also stocks local artisanal brands selected by Nagel. Highlights include jewellery by Studio Loubser and Geraldine Fenn, gender-neutral perfumes by Apartment, and vessels by Japanese trained ceramicist Andrew Walford, whose methods also informed Nagel’s cotton dying. A large collage piece by artist Michael MacGarry further elaborates Nagel’s interest in things ‘minimal, raw, simple and honest' – the wall-hung piece is made from hand-stitched cement packets overlaid with cotton elements.

Tiaan Nagel’s art collector-inspired store in Johannesburg

(Image credit: Designer Tiaan Nagel)

The conversation between Nagel’s S/S  2019/2020 collection, entitled Remember You Are, and the curated objects on sale is integral to the new store. ‘I wanted an intimate space with an apartment feeling,' says the designer. ‘The idea is that you are entering a space inhabited by a fictitious collector, my female alter ago perhaps, and these are the things she surrounds herself with. The store is an abstract vestibule where these ideas can live.'

Nagel worked with Philippe van der Merwe, a founding partner of Tonic, to translate his idea into a negotiable retail space. The two previously worked together on Nagel’s short-lived first boutique, opened in 2009; both also have a shared passion for the South African ceramics and 1980s Japanese design. Shiro Kuramata’s minimalist store designs for Issey Miyake provided Van der Merwe with important cues for his final design. Two features stand out. The clothing rails are liberated from the wall to allow a fuller experience of each garment. The window display is at floor level and easily navigable.

‘I wanted an intimate space with an apartment feeling'

The influence of Japan on Nagel — his current collection is partly inspired by the oversized construction of vintage Yohji Yamamoto — is moderated by his deep love of local ceramics. ‘It was part of my childhood and I slowly started collecting it in a naive way,' says Nagel. The proportions and volumes of his garments echo pieces in his personal collection of Rorke’s Drift stoneware, made in the latter half of the last century by black artisans mentored by Danish and Swedish supervisors at a rural mission. ‘It definitely influenced the colour and texture of my work.'

A canvas painting hangs inside Tiaan Nagel flagship

(Image credit: Designer Tiaan Nagel)

Interior of Tiaan Nagel flagship featuring brown interiors

(Image credit: Designer Tiaan Nagel)



235A Jan Smuts Ave
Hyde Park


Sean O’Toole is writer, editor and curator based in Cape Town. He has published two books, most recently a 2021 monograph on the expressionist painter Irma Stern, as well as edited three volumes of cultural essays, including 'The Journey: New Positions on African Photography', which received a New York Times critics’ pick for Best Art Books 2021. His exhibition projects include 'Photo book! Photo-book! Photobook!' at A4 Arts Foundation, Cape Town.