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inside kirsten goss' futuristic flagship store

Clive Will


When you enter local jeweller Kirsten Goss' new shop in Cape Town's burgeoning Silo district, it may take you a while to realise you're in a fine-jewellery showroom instead of on a sci-fi film set. As one of the innovative women pioneering the migration to V&A Waterfront's Silo district, Goss called on interior design firm HK Studio and custom shop-fitting specialist Carlos La to bring her space to life, and the result is a futuristic offering that makes a bold statement. We sat down with Goss to chat about the inspiration behind her flagship store and find out what it took to execute her vision.

What was it like working with HK Studio and Carlos La?

It's such a privilege to get to the point in your career where you're able to work with professionals of this calibre, and I found the whole process exciting and exhilarating. Sitting and planning was the fun part, but actually having to facilitate the execution of the design was where things got tricky, which is why I was so lucky to have the experts at HK Studio on board. They've done this sort of work before, so they handled all of the technical details and compliance aspects with the V&A, while Carlos La's incredible attention to detail ensured that all of the finishing touches were perfectly executed.

Did you hit any snags in the planning process?

Because I am very difficult to read and tend to go against the grain, I generally don't like the design ideas presented to me, which can sometimes result in conflict. But luckily, I am very solutions-based and have a phenomenal team at Kirsten Goss who pulled together to ensure that this project was a success. From our managing director in Durban counting numbers to the team in Cape Town conceptualising the display elements and managing the project on the ground, everyone gave 110%. So when we hit snags, we were able to problem-solve – even when we were knee-deep in tiles in the middle of Parow!

What inspired the look and feel of the space?

To quote a line from The Smiths' track ' Sheila Take a Bow', 'boot the grime of this world in the crotch dear'. I get so exhausted by the monotonous feel of jewellery stores that enforce the idea that there has to be velour, patent leather, generic busts and cabinets present in order for your space to be a success. There's too much of a serious attitude surrounding fine jewellery, so I wanted my flagship store to feel light-hearted and be an experience for those visiting it. The aim was to create a disconnect with the way people perceive fine jewellery while simultaneously presenting a sophisticated space with a surprise element. This flagship store exists on a beautiful sliding scale between luxurious and fun, which epitomises the Kirsten Goss brand.

Does the final result meet your expectations?

The original design has morphed quite substantially due to practical constraints, but all in all, we've achieved exactly what we set out to do: present something that is a complete departure from the jewellery stores people normally see. This design is the result of persistent searching to find something that was versatile, adaptable and new that exemplified the keywords we had in the beginning: North Korean institution meets Tokyo nightclub meets '80s Cyndi Lauper meets Willy Wonky meets Jeff Koons meets luxe jewellery. Although the space evolved over time, the result is even better than what we had in mind from the outset.

What’s your favourite part of the store? 

The cabinets are so beautiful and will suit anything we do in the shop. I visited the factory and saw them being expertly handcrafted in this amazing material called Corian, which has a unique and futuristic finish.

How does the store complement your jewellery?

Magnificently. Although the space speaks volumes in its emptiness, the jewellery simultaneously enhances the environment and stands out against its stark surrounds. An important element was the graph paper, which I use when sketching designs and shooting products. I've always loved the idea of the mathematical graph, and now we’ve enlarged it, which adds to the shop's asylum-type feel. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is alive and well here!

What's next for Kirsten Goss?

This space and its location next to the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa has inspired a ream of different plans based on the idea of exhibitionism. We're going to have a lot of fun developing artful jewellery that reflects some of the more intellectual work I studied at Stellenbosch. It's a bit of a full circle experience, really. We’ve spent years earning our stripes in this business to get to a point where we can really push the boundaries and create innovative, once-off pieces.

Visit kirstengoss.com for more details.

Now take a look inside GUILD, another new design destination in V&A Waterfront's Silo district.

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