Michael Chandler on Giulio’s Café


VISI chats to Michael Chandler of Chandler House about the decor inspiration behind the beautiful Giulio’s Café, a new Italian eatery on Cape Town’s Loop Street.

What was the brief? Which elements of this project were most important to the client, and why?

The brief was simple, as it was wide open. Giulio was incredibly relaxed about his expectations of the space. He completely handed the project over to me. What was important to him was the food and I think it shows in his fantastic menu. I think there’s wisdom in getting talented people to do what they do best and nothing more. He just wanted a ‘white café’. The rest I came up with as the project developed. I could tell from Giulio’s fashion sense that it was to be fresh, tailored, classic and with a relaxed Italian air. You can tell so much about people based on their plumage.

What is your design style and how did you apply it to this space?

My design style really depends on the client. I think that a good design style is informed by the client, their needs and their cultural cues. Interpretive skills are very important. If I had to describe the style though, I’d like to go with Cape Splendour. It plays off generous proportions, great light and elements of grandeur, re-interpreted for a contemporary space. Touches of brass, marble, leather and bespoke furniture add to the glamour, elegance and timelessness of the space. Oh, and of course a few little hints of the Cape in some of the details.

How did you bring texture and warmth to the restaurant?

We were very lucky to take over a space that had enormous windows on three sides, as well as fantastic 19th century brickwork and well-worn marble floors. We played with contrasting the brick against a crisp, white plaster folly wall and echoed the worn floors with highly polished marble tables. The warmth came through in the colour choices – warm white paint, warm marble and warm leather hues. Ultimately, it’s the enormous warmth of Giulio that people respond to and feel most strongly.

What do you love most about the finished project?

I love that Giulio’s dream has come to fruition in a way he could never have imagined. It’s so much more than a space, it’s a celebration of all things culinary, Italian – and in essence – Giulio. His ‘white café’ is as he asked, but it’s also so much more. To see people in the space, enjoying the food, laughing at the pasta chandelier, chatting on the furniture I designed… it’s the best feeling.

Giulio’s is situated at 16 Loop Street, Cape Town. The café is open Monday to Friday from 7am until 4pm. Visit the Giulio’s Facebook page for more information.