Growing up in the Eastern Cape, Michael Chandler always had a keen interest in design. After studying Art History at UCT, he began working at Stephan Welz and Sothebys. Surrounded by beautiful things, Michael honed his eye cataloguing beautiful things and quickly developed a love of all things Cape Dutch.

‘The Cape has such a rich and unique history of design and interiors that is only starting to be tapped now,’ says Michael. ‘The fulcrum between the West and the Rest, Cape Town straddled, juxtaposed and wove all sorts of different pieces into its own unique song.’

In July 2010, Michael launched his own design studio, Chandler House, in Cape Town. Some of his designs include wallpapers inspired by 18th-century Imari vases, crockery that pays tribute to the pepper trees at Kersefontein, and tea cloths printed with Vergelegen’s orchard layout.

We recently had the chance to chat to Michael and find out more about this intriguing designer.

Favourite South African designer right now?

Keith Henning of Adriaan Kuiters (clothing designer) Christopher Peter (flower arranger) and Antonio Zaninovic (architect).

Best Breakfast?

Black Americano, no sugar

Favourite children’s book?

The Island of Adventure by Enid Blyton

Inspiration right now?

The lichen on Lion’s Head

What would you love to happen next week?

A drinks party with my closest friends from all corners of the world.

Dream ‘canvas’?

A large, empty Cape Georgian house set in an over-grown garden with mature trees.

If you could collaborate with anyone right now who would it be and why?

My partner – he is an amazing architect and I would love to work with him on a building that he designed from scratch.

Listening to?


If money were no object, what would you buy?

Port Fairy (aka the ‘Wedding Cake’ house) in Oranjezicht. I’d rip out the all the modern alterations and redecorate it in a unique Cape-meets-Hollywood Regency style.

Philosophy on design?

Design should always be beautiful or useful. Preferably both. I also strive to enjoy myself and have fun in the process of production. I think it shows in the final product.

Person to watch?

My little sister Julie. She’s only just turned 15, but I think she’s got great things ahead of her.

Favourite colour and why?

Mahogany, loam, cocoa brown. It’s versatile, warm, strong and handsome.