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South Africa’s best-designed store is a bookshop: Exclusive Books Ballito Junction

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Exclusive Books, South Africa’s leading bookseller, has received the 2017 Retail Design and Development Award (RDDA) for best retail store design within a shopping centre in South Africa.

The award, for the bookseller’s recently-opened store in Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal, was given last night at the annual convention of the South African Council of Shopping Centres, currently underway in Cape Town.

It recognises retail design excellence that combines innovation with environmental consciousness. The award is competed for by stores of all kinds in South Africa, from large international clothiers to boutique gift shops.

Exclusive Books opened the doors of its award-winning store, nestled on the top floor of the new Ballito Junction shopping centre on KwaZulu Natal’s north coast, in April of this year. The store follows the vision for bookshops crafted jointly by Exclusive Books’ CEO, Benjamin Trisk, and the company’s retail design agency, Dakota Design.


‘Our brief for all our new and renovated stores is clear,’ said Trisk. ‘To design spaces that encourage customers to linger and have conversations. We live in a time of “experience culture” – experience and the ability to share it, in person and via social media, has become everything. As a result, a cookie-cutter approach to bookstore design simply does not suffice, and no two new Exclusive Books stores are alike. Our Ballito store takes our vision to the next level, and we’re delighted that it has been recognised in this manner.’

The store features, among many other unique details, hand-blown lampshades from the Paarl-based artisanal glass company Red Hot Glass. ‘These fit perfectly with the serenity of the coastal theme and bookstore environment,’ said Dakota’s Justine Stewart-Miller, who oversaw the shop’s design. She also pointed out the striking, backlit ‘Japanese Wave’ patterns printed onto the store’s bulkheads. ‘The application of “endless wave” patterns is one of the many ancient graphic styles that have once again become popular in contemporary design and storytelling,’ said Stewart-Miller. ‘What better way to start the conversation of storytelling in the Exclusive Books Ballito store?’


Ballito’s new bookshop is the 10th in the partnership between Exclusive Books and Dakota Design, with two more currently under construction in Cape Town, at Cavendish Square and Table Bay Mall.

‘For centuries bookstores and coffee shops have been spaces where people gather to share thoughts, debate ideas and start movements that shape the world as we know it today,’ said Trisk. ‘All our new stores aim to meet this ideal, affording our customers the chance to luxuriate in a true bookshop experience.’

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One Response to South Africa’s best-designed store is a bookshop: Exclusive Books Ballito Junction

  1. Wanda Hennig September 20th, 2017 at 9:35 am #

    How very cool. Congratulations. A destination bookstore! It warrants the drive from Durban to Ballito to come see/explore.

    I lived for many years in the San Francisco Bay Area and there were a number of “destination” bookstores: ones that encouraged a person to hang out, meet friends there, browse, read, spend time.

    By chance, before I came across this online, I saw an ad sharing this info in the Mercury this morning.

    Best and good luck.

    Wanda Hennig

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