Michael Chandler is the owner of Chandler House, a small design studio, antique shop and art gallery in a lovely Cape Georgian building in the CBD. As you enter, you’re enveloped by soft jazz and a light scent of furniture wax perfuming the air. The space is small but it’s packed full of incredible gems.
Hailing from the Eastern Cape, Michael developed a love for history and art at an early age while growing up on the Wild Coast. After school, he earned an Honours Degree in Art History from UCT. He went on to work at Stephan Welz art auctioneers and some galleries before opening Chandler House in 2010.
With a love for Cape Dutch design and the Cape’s visual history, heritage and people, Michael is passionate about the subject and offers insights into stories from the past.
At Chandler House, you’ll find local art including Michael’s own unique Cape-inspired designs. Also, you’ll find beautiful things from far away places, antiques and collectables resulting in a whimsical and eclectic mix.
One of Michael’s favourite contemporary Cape Town designers is Porky Hefer for his playful work. Michael is also influenced by 18th-century architect, Thibault, whose Cape Dutch and Neo-Classical architecture can still be seen in Cape Town today.
Cape Rococo architecture is the inspiration behind Michael’s iconic Cape Gables bookends. His brass and sterling silver jewellery range is based on the elaborate key plates, characteristic of old Cape furniture. Cape Dutch furniture and architecture is the muse behind many of his other jewellery pieces, ceramics, and décor.
Michael’s appreciation of art history comes to light when he tells me about his design philosophy. He bases his design ideology on a quote by English artist, William Morris ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.’ Also, he feels designs should hold integrity and tell a story.
Michael opened the Voorkamer Gallery at Chandler House in June 2014 as an exhibition space. The Voorkamer took part in some of the first First Thursdays events and received positive feedback for its promotion of emerging artists. Michael dreams up unique exhibition ideas, such as Wet Paint (February 2015), when he gave several artists just one day to create a painting. Currently on show is Renée Rossouw’s Simboliek, with the next exhibition, Fugly, opening in April 2016.
Michael collaborates with Cape creatives on new ranges and Chandler House is proud to be able to provide a platform to showcase upcoming local artists. He has been involved in many shared projects including the design of Giulio’s Café in Loop Street, with more exciting work planned for the future.
As I left Chandler House, I vowed to clear out my home of things that are neither useful nor beautiful and to fill it with designs that tell a story and hold integrity. Pop in to discover objects with interesting stories; they’re changing things up and receiving fresh wares all the time.