A Dark Horse on Kloofnek

A Dark Horse unfortunately closed its doors in 2012. Find more innovative boutiques in the Mother City in our Shopping in Cape Town overview

Inside the shop large bay windows set off the scene; an angular, ZigZag trolley beckons in playful yellow and through sunny glass doors is a room filled with colourful hemp bags, jewellery and cushions. Spatial designs are pinned to the notice board in a studio at the back, and a sewer is hard at work.

The Dark Horse catalogue includes storage units, tables, chairs, duffel bags, light fittings, laptop and phone covers, and much more. I'm here to have a chat with owner and designer, Lise du Plesis.

What is your background?

“I'm a graduate in interior design. I count designer, Sarah Watermeyer, as my mentor. Having travelled Europe extensively, I have been exposed to inspirational architecture and design including the gothic and ornate buildings in Prague. I appreciate attention to detail, craft and love; attributes translated into my own designs.”

What sparked your interest in furniture design?

“When I moved back from living in the UK, I had no furniture. Instead of buying some, I designed my own. Inspired, I began to design from home, for other people. As the popularity of my designs grew, I decided to open my own studio, in this cute house on Kloof Street.”

What makes Dark Horse unique, compared to other furniture stores in Cape Town?

“Cape Town is an exciting place to open a furniture store: there's so much creativity, lots of energy, and people tend to support independent stores. We try to keep things simple, transforming wholesome, handmade materials into custom designs.”

Why call the store Dark Horse?

“The idea of being a dark horse is to be catapulted into success, from the background. It's an aspiration.”

Who else works here?

“My aunt worked with sewer, Soloman Nzeyimana, in Johannesburg. When she told me he sewed beautifully, I asked him to come and work with me. My aunt also supports the Bethany Shelter, which teaches crafts to women from disadvantaged communities and how to start their own businesses. We sell their jewellery designs here.”

Describe your designs?

“Functionality is the most important aspect. Our powder coated, ZigZag trolley can be used as a magazine rack, an office pedestal or a toiletries stand, while the segment table's tray inlays can be turned around, or used to display.

“We support environmentally conscious design, using locally produced materials and manufacturers including recycled tyres, natural hemp for our handbags and steel from a local manufacturer. Our Militia benches are made of balau wood, sourced from a local joiner.”

Your use of colour?

“Custom-made bags and furniture are available in purple, red, yellow, blue, black, grey and clear coated. If you opt for the segment table, you can choose an alternative colour for tray inlays.”

What is your price range?

“Our range is accessible to anyone who appreciates design, yet doesn't have a large budget, from 30s and 40s with a keen eye for furniture design, to those in their 20s interested in bags and apparel. Our prices range from R1000 to R4000.”

Describe your design process?

“We conduct a spatial consultation with our customers. Our designs usually take 10-15 days to complete, depending on the style of furniture and the materials used.”

What do you think of furniture design in Cape Town?

“Cape Town has a European feel, influenced by booming tourism. I think the city keeps up with the rest of the world and is ahead of other South African cities.”

By Lisa Nevitt

Dark Horse
83 Kloofnek Road | Tamboerskloof | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 423 8149

Opening times: Monday to Friday 10am - 6pm, Saturdays 10am - 3pm.

Another local designer we love is Missibaba; handmade leather goods.

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