Zayd Minty x The Fringe

Any Capetonian with half an ear to the ground will have heard of the exciting ventures springing up in the east city precinct. Working tirelessly behind the scenes is Zayd Minty:a blue-sky thinker with a remarkable vision for Cape Town’s new “design innovation district”.

Hipster regulars thronging through the doors of The Assembly on a Friday evening may not know the name Zayd Minty. Sweet-toothed brides-to-be ordering their dream wedding cake at Charly’s Bakery may not either. What they do know is that this is the corner of Cape Town to catch live music acts or find the most decadently zany confectionary creations.

It’s the hood where Cape Town creatives enjoy one of Will’s famous sandwiches, partake in vintage bicycle auctions and view Pedersen + Lennard’s latest furniture designs – all at the Field Office in Barrack Street. It’s where freelancers can rent desk space by the hour, surrounded by other design-minded professionals at Brightest Young Minds’ Open Innovation Studios. This is where book-lovers convene at The Book Lounge and the place that Furnspace 3D (developers of interior design and visualisation software) calls home. So who is Zayd Minty and what does he have to do with these diverse endeavours?

To put it simply, he’s the name behind itall – the visionary who’s transforming Cape Town’s east city precinct into a desirable location for innovative entrepreneurs and start-up companies in the creative and design industries. In 2006 Zayd helped start Creative Cape Town – a Cape Town Partnership programme to develop the creative and knowledge economy in the central city. He now runs the programme, which helped incubate Cape Town’s bid for the title of World Design Capital 2014.

Zayd brings to the table years of experience in the contemporary arts and heritage sector: early on, he worked for the Robben Island and District Six Museums. His vision is that The Fringe (as it’s been labelled) will be the continent’s premier hub of design innovation. With CPUT (Cape Peninsula University of Technology) incorporated into the precinct, The Fringe is geared to fit the “urban science park” model on which it is based, mirroring international innovation districts like Spain’s 22@Barcelona and the Toronto Fashion Incubator.

Already, the Cape Craft and Design Institute and the Cape Town Fashion Council occupy space on Harrington Street and The Old Granary is being restored and redeveloped to house suitably Fringe-worthy tenants, along the lines of Heritage Square.

Aiming to redevelop what already exists, Zayd Minty is not out to change the Cape Town skyline, but rather the very ether and atmosphere of Cape Town’s once ignored eastern periphery. And for that, his is a name we should all get acquainted with.

Q: Your personal fringe favourites?

Music at The Assembly, Portuguese steaks at Dias Tavern, coffee and crepes at Oh Café, performing arts at The Fugard and books from the Book Lounge, which has a wonderful atmosphere.

Q: What about the things you wish you could change?

There’s a liquor store which sells cheap alcohol to homeless people and they move between there and the Service Dining Room (which provides five-cent meals to needy people). Together, the two are an awful combination, but it’s the liquor store which needs to go or change. There are also some property owners who have not invested much into their buildings for years and refuse to sell or develop. It doesn’t help the area to change for the better.

Q: Some of the Other exciting projects you’re involved in?

I helped write Cape Town’s World Design Capital 2014 bid book and sit on the bid

committee. It’s a really exciting initiative to be involved in and will have a great positive impact on our city even if we don’t win. I also organise Creative Week Cape Town (9 –18 September 2011): a legacy project that arose out of the bid and is a showcase for Cape Town’s incredible creative talent. It’s connected to the Loeries Awards.

More info:

Creative Cape Town,

Design Capital Bid,