Fantastic Feet: Spitz’s Flagship Sandton City Store

WORDS Sarah Buitendacht PHOTOS Supplied

South African design aficionados Tonic have put a sexy, smart spin on Spitz‘s flagship Sandton City store.

After two surreal years of home deliveries and crowd-avoiding supermarket dashes, who will ever take a normal, leisurely shop for granted again? Being able to browse and amble around stores, buying or even just desiring, has taken on new meaning. The people, the spaces, the goods – it’s a heady experience.

Indeed, providing an experience is what Tonic believe is at the heart of retail. “Don’t dumb store design down – you want people to think ‘Wow’,” says the firm’s Philippe van der Merwe. This wow factor is something he and his partner Greg Gamble have specialised in for decades, and exactly what they’ve deployed at the Spitz flagship store in Sandton City.

Fantastic Feet: Spitz's Flagship Sandton City Store

Spitz started out in the Joburg CBD in 1968, but it’s a label synonymous with shoes designed and made in Italy (like those in their Carvela collection), and overseas brands such as Lacoste and Kurt Geiger. They’re top-end names that appeal to different tastes – a consideration for the Tonic team as they embarked on this, their 15th Spitz store interior.

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Appropriately, Rome was Philippe’s starting point for the space. “It really is Italy for me, and we wanted to highlight the mix of Spitz’s South African heritage and a strong connection with that country,” he says. “The space had to feel luxurious but not all new – that’s the sense you get from those old cities.”

So, in a Pantheon-like move, they divided the store with lines of columns, and used a gorgeous plaster across the walls and ceiling – it’s crisp, but has texture. Even the marble used is a not-so-subtle nod to Italy. “It’s red, green and white,” Philippe says. “What a luxury to use, and in interesting ways.”

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The front of the store is neutral and sophisticated. The taupe curved seating is plentiful, and there’s
a symmetry to the area’s design – it’s calming and inviting, although there’s a lot going on. At the back, things take a turn: suddenly you’re in a patch of vivid colour, glossy tile, wild pattern and pure indulgence, strongly referencing an Italian spin on the ’80s Memphis design movement. Those of us with a penchant for statement shoes would call this our natural home.

And in a stroke of genius, the Tonic team have made the shoes part of this dynamic. Instead of being banished to a storeroom, the mobile shelves of beautiful blue shoeboxes are a strong aesthetic element upfront. It’s design that’s a step ahead.

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