Michael Chandler is the creative visionary behind Chandler House, a design company which develops Cape-inspired homeware and jewellery and curates a wondrous and ever-changing selection of antiques, curiosities, art and linen in its cosy treasure trove of a store in the heart of Cape Town.
What are you reading at the moment?
A random World of Interiors (one of the few Interior magazines whose copy is as interesting as the glossy pics of the article). I’m also still half-way through Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
Tell us about your notebooks.
I started keeping a notebook on my person from Matric. I write my thoughts, ideas, musings — good or bad — in them. They are literally a collection of my thoughts from the past 10 years.
Do you ever re-read them?
Often! It can be a mortifying experience going back through the pages/years — if you thought I was a Romantic fool now, just turn to 2004! Most of my ideas are recorded in these notebooks and so I enjoy going back through them when I’m looking for new product ideas.
What book has had the greatest impact on you?
Probably the Bible. I wasn’t brought up as a Christian, but I think a lot of my “culture” does stem from growing up with Christian values in the West. But if you are talking about impact, in the meteorite sense of the world, probably Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. It’s the book that should have become the Bible. In many ways, it’s mine.
What is your favourite novel of all-time?
The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende.
What were your favourite books as a child?
I loved beautifully-illustrated books (duh) — but I have two favourite stories that stand out: The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde (arguably the most well-written piece of English literature) and The White Snake, which is a Grimm’s fairy tale. No one has heard of it — but it’s great. Oh, I was also obsessed with a DK Guide to Keeping an Aquarium. I thought if I kept taking it out every time I went to the library (i.e. perma-loan), that the librarian would just give it to me. She never did.
Who is your favourite fictional character?
Miss Havisham. And I love Noddy.
What’s the last book you gave as a gift?
I recently bought I am – A Story of Discovery for my nephew at the Open City Design Festival pop-up shop. It’s super.
Who would you ask to read you a bedtime story?
Which book have you never been able to finish?
Ten Hundred Thousand Million Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. When everyone gets the same name my mind unravels and I freak out and put the book down. Again. I try it every three years.
What book do you turn to for advice?
I don’t turn to books for advice nearly as much as I perhaps should. I tend to bumble along making mistakes and learning from them first hand.
If you could have dinner with a dead writer, who would you dine with and where?
Its such a cliché, but I suppose clichés are there for a reason: Oscar Wilde. We’d eat at our shop — on a table specially prepared for the occasion. I would love to hear Mr Wilde’s take on our Curiosity Shop. “These Cape Dutch-inspired objects will be the death of me – one of us has to go!”