The Talented Mr. Chandler

By Marica

Please spare me a moment or two of your afternoon to share the remarkable works of Michael Chandler with you – it will be well worth your time. Do you have your coffee in hand… mmm, and a rusk maybe? Ready? Okay…

Browsing through the Chandler House website, Rose and I had to agree that Michael is one clever young man. Most of his pieces have an unique play of old and new – taking an artefact and reworking it into a contemporary interpretation is simply brilliant. He finds inspiration for new designs in South African history & heritage and then uses modern materials and methods to craft it. I also find it admirable how he utilizes otherwise damages & useless objects (like the shards of an old blue & white Dutch plate) to create something beautiful with it – with a completely different use.

Fridge magnets made from shards of blue & white porcelain plates. Clever, hey!

Rose and I were rather interested to find out how Michael’s seemingly contrasting interests came to be…

It seems Michael spend school holidays on family farms that resulted in an early introduction to nature, antiques, gardening and needlework. After leaving school, he enrolled at UCT where he studied one of his most passionate interests – Art History. While undertaking his post grad Michael started working for Stephan Welz & Sothebys, a prestigious fine and decorative arts auction house. Spending every day examining and cataloguing beautiful things, he learnt an enormous amount about the past 400 years of design and was snapped up as a research assistant to Deon Viljoen – a leading expert on 18th, 19th and 20th Cape Visual and Domestic History. Deon’s passion for early Cape furniture and Dutch trade pieces quickly seeded itself in Michael and this is easily recognisable in the work that Michael does today. In July 2010, Michael started a small design studio – Chandler House – and his work is largely associated with the above-mentioned interests.

Beautiful embroidery - the white and blue combination remains stunning!

Deon Viljoen approached Michael in 2010 to find an upholstering solution for these fabulous set of Cape Stinkwood Dining Chairs, circa 1810. Georgian English in design, but made in the Cape. By some happy accident, Michael found shards of discarded English blue and white porcelain and decided to embroider the different porcelain shards patterns on the chair seats – brilliant blue on off-white cotton.

The Kraak Mirror

Based on the rim pattern of a 17th Century Japanese Blue & White Ceramic Plate, the Kraak Mirror, above, is a 21st Century Cape take on the Regency Butler’s Mirror.

Striking Red Embroidered Coral Scatters

I absolutely love these beautiful bold red embroidered Coral scatter cushions Michael designed. Quite striking, hey? They’re available at Pezula Interiors. (I believe  the talented Lanalou took this lovely photo)

Love those busts. So funky!

The beautiful black & white Houdiniware is quite… well… hypnotizing and the quirky busts you see at the top are slip-casts of a phrenology head by Lorenzo Niles Fowler. Michael, viewing the heads as blank canvases started experimenting by painting different features on the various heads – the result is uniquely funky.

The Madam-Style Mirror and Nyanga Mirror = what an unique translation

Based on a Robert Adam Neo-Classical design from the late 18th Century, the Madame-style mirror is made entirely out of white beads. Whereas the Nyanga Mirror has a more simplistic tribal feel – “nyanga” being the Xhosa word for “moon” and ultimately the inspiration for this beaded piece.

On the bottom, from left to right: The Cape Spitoon; Phrenology Vase & the Enlightenment stack of books.

The Cape Spittoon is Michael’s 21st Century interpretation of an old Cape Icon – although traditionally it would have been heavy brass, so unlike this dainty ceramic version.

Here again you find the Fowler’s Phrenology head but now used as a vase – imagine planting some herbs in it – that would be one funky head of hair!

I adore the stack of plaster books! It can be used as a decorative object and Michael designed a lamp base version of it as well.

VOC-Inspired Plate

Fabric man, David Bellamy kindly asked Michael to create an unique piece for an exhibition which aims to raise awareness and funds for the protection and survival of the Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus). Michael came up with this VOC-inspired piece, only replacing the traditional Ho-ho birds with a pair of Cape Parrots.

The beautiful Cape Pendant Collection

Michael says he has several things in the pipeline. He’s working on a revised smaller Cape Pendant Collection – for those of you unfamiliar with it, it’s a jewellery range based on the key-plates found on old pieces of Cape Furniture (and it’s freaking beautiful). Lanalou also did a beautiful post about it here. Michael is also currently focusing on a range of Kitchen Linens – Aprons, Tea towels, Dishcloths and Napkins inspired by china patterns, 18th century etchings of the Cape and esoterica. So, keep your eyes peeled people and check out his website for more beautiful thingies.

So, what do you guys think? Which item appeals to you most? I have to say I would love to own one of those Cape Pendants, how about you? Give us your opinions please!

Simonsig’s Beautiful Restaurant, Cuvée. This Restaurant = Eye Candy

By Marica

Mother’s Day has snuck up on me. If Rose didn’t ask me where I was planning to take my mom I would probably have forgotten the special day completely (bad daughter, I know).

Sunday being two measly days away didn’t leave me with much time to plan so I jumped onto the internet (old faithful) to find a restaurant we can go to for dinner. My criteria – must have an intimate atmosphere, has to be pretty (I am an interior designer after all) and the food must be drool-worthy.

Then, as if by divine providence, I stumbled upon Cuvée’s website. Isn’t it a feast for your eyes – I just had to call Rose over to my PC to take a look. We obsessively tabbed through their image gallery for at least 30 minutes…

Cuvée is Simonsig Wine Estate’s signature restaurant which is located on the outskirts of Stellenbosch. I happen to be one of those lucky people who have the greater Stellenbosch area as a backyard so I’m quite ecstatic about this beautiful find.

What I absolutely love about Cuvée’s interior is the juxtaposition of opposing styles and elements that come together in a unique and harmonizing way. A mixture of old and modern, the traditional Cape Dutch manor house was converted into an eclectic jewel.

Interior designer, Neil Stemmet of Koncept Design, a self-confessed collector & curator, brought his distinct trademark style to Cuvée’s interior. The rather brooding, masculine spaces are beautifully accented by one or two bold colours. Bright yellow and red make for a quite dramatic contrast.

I adore the old heavy Dutch armoires and funky use of picture frames and crockery as wall features.

The lighting is also something special – the crystal chandeliers with various pieces of crockery stuck into it is quite ingenious.

Furthermore Cuvée’s menu looks mouth-wateringly delicious and the dishes have a certain sophisticated flair which reminded me that we all eat not only with our mouth but also with our eyes. Eish, those dishes look amazing.

And, and! I phoned – they have Mother’s Day lunch special! The irresistible three course menu designed with you and mom in mind at the cost of R260 per person is said to “indulge your taste buds”. It also includes a small gift and complementary glass of the iconic Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel celebrating its 40th anniversary this year as South Africa’s first Méthode Cap Classique.

Ladies and gentlemen…we have a winner!

Do yourself a favour and check out their website. And if you are planning to take mom out to Cuvée you best make a reservation – tyd is min!


The Mother’s Day lunch is on the 8th of May from 11h00 to 14h00.

Reservations:  (021) 888-4932 or send an email to

Oh and check out the special Mother’s Day Menu: here.