Cape Town is rich in creative capital – a city bursting at the seams with talent and innovation and for a décor lover, it’s a nexus of inspiration and motivation. Each year Decorex Cape Town brings together a collection of the best and boldest on the interior décor and design scene under one roof for the benefit of homemakers and industry professionals alike.
There is always a plethora of exhibition stands to see and experience at the show. What’s more, the Decorex Cape Town team also selects standout interior designers and studios as special features to punctuate the event. One of these highlights is the annual Designer Spotlight, and for 2020 Ernst H Eloff takes centre stage.
From humble and hands-on beginnings in Worcester – Eloff grew up on a farm where he spent a lot of time making things as a child – the designer went on to attend the Hugo Naude Arts Centre (where his final-year works were selected for an exhibition at the Iziko Museum). ‘I was immediately intrigued with the Cape Town art and design scene,’ he notes.
Widening his scope further after his studies, Eloff went on to work for his grandfather’s property business doing renovations – giving him a deeper understanding still of another side of the creative process, allowing him to channel his talents into interiors. During this time, he developed a lifelong love of furniture. ‘I would spend all my money buying used furniture from second-hand shops and auctions, this became a bit of an obsession,’ he says. He turned this passion into a business in the form of a furniture shop when he moved to Cape Town.
A couple of years on, he then partnered with another furniture dealer to start the Mid-Century Modern Showroom & Gallery focusing on mid-century, Bauhaus, Memphis Milano pieces, and various art. ‘I eventually started a workshop area in the back of the shop where I refurbished, assembled and fixed pieces,’ he says.
This journey of loving and learning about furniture culminated in a course in Wood Machining and Cabinet making at the Advanced Furniture Technology Centre (Furntech) and the beginnings of Eloff’s own line. ‘I started making simple products and wanted to develop it further so I left the business to start my own furniture and lighting outfit,’ he says. He also experimented and taught himself skills working with brass, copper and steel over the years in order to be able to offer custom design and manufacturing.
Being selected for this year’s Spotlight designer comes as somewhat of a pleasant surprise to Eloff, but one that he welcomes as an opportunity to engage with a wider audience. ‘I’m very happy to see that my work has been noticed,’ he says. ‘I think Decorex has the biggest variety of all the local trade expos and always exhibits a diverse selection of exhibitors in various categories to give you a very good idea of what is trending throughout the industry,’ he states.
As a furniture and lighting designer as well as someone who works with members of the wider industry – manufacturing pieces for architects and interior designers – he helps others to achieve their vision as well as living his own. His deep passion and the dedication to his craft make him a fitting choice as the Spotlight designer – he represents many facets of the industry, from craft to manufacturing, design and art. His style is largely inspired by his background in investment furniture trading and art curation. ‘I draw my inspiration from classic design to evoke timeless aesthetic appeal. There is almost a therapeutic effect in turning raw materials into products and seeing them in situ,’ he says, of his ethos and process.
For Decorex Cape Town, Eloff will be creating settings featuring various furniture and lighting designs from his collection as well as debuting some new pieces which will be seen for the first time at the show.
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