Meet Michael Chandler. He is the owner and founder of Chandler House in Cape Town, which sources and sells some beautiful interior merchandise and art pieces.  I invited him to join the first Design Watch post to feature on Man of the Cloth. This will be a regular feature on the blog from now on. At 28 years old this young shop owner and fancy word-user is smack in the middle of not only a great city, but a marvelous career.

You got your Bachelor of Arts Degree and had a keen interest in Art History. How did that lead you to open Chandler House

While I was doing my final year of Art History at UCT, I interned at Sothebys, the Fine and Decorative Arts Auction House. While I was here I was exposed to beautiful and valuable items of art and design that our country has collected and produced over the past few centuries. It was a privilege to catalogue exotic furniture, oriental ceramics and fabulous oil paintings. All of this visual and design information sunk in via osmosis I suppose. While working there, I would flirt with making things at night and on the weekend that were inspired by the pieces I had cared for at the auction house. I really enjoyed the process of being creative and a few years later – I felt I needed to give it a real shot, full time. So I resigned from my position as furniture specialist and started Chandler House.

Chandler House is quite charming. With quality design available locally does the market respond? If not, what are the challenges design-retail faces?

I think that the biggest problem is the cost of making things locally; it pushes up the final retail price. Why would you buy a beautiful hand-made ceramic item from a local designer, when you can get a similar-feeling one for a fraction of the price at your average mall-decor store? All our products at Chandler House are locally made – and it gets expensive – especially when you aren’t making items in the hundreds and thousands. People are hesitant to spend R750 on a ceramic vase, something I can identify having started a small design studio from scratch. Its a big challenge trying to produce affordable, beautiful, locally-made products.

What does style mean to you?

Style is about being brave – its about being yourself all the time… and that takes guts. I wish people would have the courage to wear outfits and live in spaces that express who they really are. True Style is about celebrating and expressing how you differ to others – not about following trends.

What is next for Chandler House?

We’re blasting off into Space – and going back in Time. We are working on a range of lighting and furniture inspired by the constellations named by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in an 18th Century Cape Town. I’m deeply excited for this – its quite a departure from our ceramics, linens and decorative pieces which we are well-known for. We are also planning an exhibition for the end of the year featuring all our favourite  Cape Creatives.

| Rodan Kane Hart’s Metal Sculpture | Brass shipwreck ring | A Taxidermy Barn Owl by Tyto Alba |  A hand-emboridered Suzani  from Uzbekistan | Pear’s Soap |  Lady Chatterly’s Lover | Wolftrap wine |  Brass table from Anatomy Design |