Cool Spaces: Tiaan Nagel

WORDS Amelia Brown IMAGES Sarah de Pina (boutique) Travys Owen (fashion)

Designer Tiaan Nagel worked with interior-architectural design studio Tonic Design on the interiors of his eponymous flagship boutique, which recently opened in Hyde Park Corner, Johannesburg. 

“Philippe [van der Merwe] and Greg [Gamble] strike the perfect balance between sophistication and ease,” explains Tiaan. “For me personally, as someone who battles to compromise, they are the best to work with – they push the boundaries without being faddish, improving the space and how the product will be seen and experienced.”

Tiaan showed Philippe references, many of which featured the brown tones of late ’70s interiors, including Yves Saint Laurent’s iconic Paris apartment on rue de Babylone designed by Jacques Grange: dark browns with hints of honey, sulphur and amber.

“Philippe’s eye for colour and shape is so finely tuned,” Tiaan continues. “I didn’t want anything black or white; it’s too cold. The whole project was about creating warmth and mood. In order for us to stand out from the crowd, it couldn’t feel like a traditional store. So I asked Tonic to create a shell where I can curate all the things I love, like an apartment instead of a store, filled with art, fine craft, beautiful design, and more.”

The salon-apartment feel is reinforced with the plush velvet sofa, designed by Tonic, paired with a riempie ball-and-claw chair; oversized curtains made from raw Belgian linen, which drape on wide natural oak floor boards; coffee table books and vases on top of a lacquered table with multiple legs; a contemporary mirror that could be in a boudoir; LED lights below polished marble shelves; brushed stainless steel, a counterpoint to a dark antique armoire.

“I knew I needed modern pieces, but also ones with character, so I turned to fine-art and antiques specialist Riaan Bolt to help me find pieces that spoke to that feeling and to my obsession with all things handmade,” says Tiaan. “Some are 150 years old – Cape stinkwood carved and inlaid with contrasting wood to create beautiful patterns that I find contemporary today. That’s the thing with items that are well made, they retain value and surpass trends.”

Tiaan has also launched a new fashion collection for summer 2019/2020 entitled “Remember You Are” inspired by the poetry of Ntokozo Mbokazi. The womenswear range pays homage to beautiful fabrics. The pieces, which feature graphic silhouettes, are made from vintage fabrics Tiaan sourced over years from fabric mills that are no longer in business or don’t have the capacity to reproduce certain styles.

Pottery also formed part of Tiaan’s inspiration – both for the collection and the boutique – as he examined his collection of Rorke’s Drift pottery. In the Remember You Are collection the pottery’s pleasingly simple shapes inform the oversized details on a shirt or the volumes of a sleeve. And for the store, the nuance of the colour of clay guided the palette – greyish blues, warm ambers, pale yellows.

Of the boutique, Tiaan concludes, “It’s this strange relationship between the older antiques, the modern furniture, the sculptural ceramics, the progressive art pieces and the clothing collection that sets the perfect tone for a new way of doing retail, I believe.”

Find the store at Shop 55UM Hyde Park Corner, on the corner of Jan Smuts Avenue and William Nicol Drive, Hyde Park, Johannesburg. Visit to find out more and stay up to date with the brand on Instagram (@tiaannagel).