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Johannesburg's Best Shops

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© Courtesy Art Africa

The best shops in Johannesburg for finding tribal art, local crafts and world-class design.

This past fall, en route to an East African safari, I stopped off for two days in Johannesburg, South Africa. As a collector of tribal art, I was excited to see what I could find there. From my base at the Saxon Boutique Hotel (rooms, from $950; saxon.co.za)—a former private residence transformed into 53 exotic suites—I was able to explore many neighborhoods while on the hunt for local handcrafted items. Here’s where I found some of my favorite pieces, many of which are now proudly on display at my house in upstate New York.

Amatuli Fine Art

Mark Valentine recently moved his 20-year-old store to a huge, three-story Kramerville space that holds thousands of African furnishings and decorative items. The volume can be overwhelming, but treasures abound: carved crocodiles from Swaziland (from $200), feathered headdresses from Cameroon ($130) and an endless supply of traditional baskets and masks (from $40). $ At 6 Desmond St., Kramerville; 27-11/024-4686.

Kim Sacks Gallery

A potter by profession, Sacks has a gallery-cum-store filled with museum-quality furniture, sculpture, jewelry, textiles, pottery and glassware by local craftsmen. Standouts include a 1940s leather and wood chair from Ethiopia ($330) and intricate wire statues by Samuel Musharu (from $7,000). At 153 Jan Smuts Ave., Parkwood; 27-11/447-5804.

Dish

This Parkhurst shop sells contemporary ceramics handmade on-site. Owner Sharon Thompson specializes in mosaics found on everything from tiny teapots (from $70) to large tables (from $2,090). At 38 6th St., Parkhurst; 27-11/447-1071; dishmosaic.co.za.

Art Africa

Located on a charming Parkview street lined with cafés and bookstores, this tiny craft emporium is perfect for finding authentic gift items like hand-beaded bracelets (from $5), leather sandals (from $35) and stacks of Kuba cloths (from $40), baskets (from $10) and African masks (from $40). At 62 Tyrone Ave., Parkview; 27-11/486-2052.

Objekt

This shop is the vision of Susanne Allers, who collects and commissions pieces from a roster of South African designers. Some of the items are a bit kitsch, but there are elegant ostrich-eggshell necklaces (from $115) and bold black-and-white ceramic bowls (from $15). At 32 7th Ave., Parktown North; 27-11/447-6005; objekt.co.za.

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