Designers Make Cape Town’s Public Space Their Office

One day every month, design firm Studio Shelf sets up its office in public spaces across Cape Town in order to connect and interact with curious people on the street.

Studio Shelf is a collective of four multidisciplinary designers who work on a range of projects across Africa and also in London. In an interview that was published on a website of the University of the Arts London, Studio Shelf member Lourina Botha explains that their monthly public office in Cape Town was inspired by the successful activities of Let’s Talk Shop, a design agency aimed at revitalizing London high streets. Setting up shop in public space is a good way to investigate the use of space as well as connect with people you would never connect with if you would stay inside your office building.

Studio Shelf Public Office

Studio Shelf Public Office

“We strongly believe that designers have the ability to solve problems, but too rarely engage with public space and communities. (…) We love the idea of not knowing how people, spaces or businesses will react to us just popping up. It keeps us on our toes, forces us to be aware of our role as designers and is a fairly stark reminder that what we design has a real effect on the world.”

The Shelf Public Office is well worked out — the designers bring their own bit of branding to the spot where they pop up, including chairs and tables. Locations change every month. The designers took the linear shape in their logo, placed it over a map of Cape Town and at every point they’ll do an open public office for a day.