By: Vula Mthimkhulu
All eyes seem to be on me as I wade through one luxury shop after the other to live a Jason Bourne like feeling. From Pallazo Pitti, to Bon Ami, Burberry, Superdry, Timberland, Tiger of Sweden, Paul Smith, and then Mont Blanc, they come after me. I lose them by venturing into Exclusive Books and disappearing into a sumptuous lunch meal at the Social Kitchen & Bar.
I was playing along with the privately dressed security guards that seemed hell bent on giving me a guided tour. I gathered it was befitting. This is Hyde Park Corner after all. It is pinpointed towards the very upper end of the market, the 1% who own 60% of the country’s assets. Here, the average price of a house stands about R12 million and that of an apartment is about R2.5 million. In the Marxian understanding, the gods live here. Us, poor souls, must be guarded in our ventures.
The other time, when we were told that South Africa could become a terror target, shopping malls were identified as a prime target. Certain types were said to be riskier than others. Since then, and if you put into the mix, the heist movement, shopping centers have been fortified. Hyde Park Corner is no exception. And that may partly explain my guided tour of the Hyde Park Corner.
But it could be my origin that has set these security guards onto me. Perhaps they see things, in my origins that is. For, I’ve come from the other side of town. I’ve just crisscrossed the center of Johannesburg in search of some story. The same story that I’m now compelled to do about this pristine place. We call it Shopping Center Census 2018.
It’s telling us interesting things about shopping centers. More so the Johannesburg inner-city chapter. Its debunking old and enduring myths of a political nature. We now know that charge which says South Africa’s retail space hasn’t transformed over the past 24 years is a lie. Maybe it holds for Hyde Park Corner. But even then, not entirely so. But that’s a story for another day, when we’re done with the Shopping Centre Census 2018 thingy.
I had come to Hyde Park Corner for a different reason. I’ve been searching for two titles, a sequel named Sapiens and Homo Deos by Yuval Noah Harari. From my search only Hyde Park Corner Exclusive Books had both titles at this juncture. I’ve come for them.
Harari says interesting things about us, Homo Sapiens. And perhaps I’ll unearth something about shopping malls, which I’m considering to name as one of the most significant social features since the era of foragers. There is something about shopping malls. I can’t put my finger to it yet. May be my visit to Hyde Park Corner and my origins on this day will give me some answers.
But the privately dressed security guards are not helping my cause. I must lose them. I do so by disappearing into the Social Kitchen & Bar after my Exclusive Books purchase. I must say this though: the concept of the Social Kitchen Bar alongside a bookshop is appealing.
You’ve got to pass through Exclusive Books in order to reach the Social Kitchen & Bar at the Hyde Park Corner. Stepping onto the Social Kitchen & Bar is like crossing over onto a different world. Clearly someone invested time to think about the design of this place. They were generous in the allocation of space for the mind to wonder. Its gigantic glass wall offers a good view of the humongous residential properties that line up the back of Hyde Park Mall leading to the Saxon Hotel.
Woody is the first description that occupied my uneducated mind but the people behind this place have better descriptions of the lofty space that’s a “host to a quirky fusion of art deco furnishings and mismatched Moroccan tiles – resulting in an imperfect, bohemian style.”
This article was lifted from consumer affairs new media platform, SATopShops.