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Eddie Zoom Keeps the 60’s Alive in Cape Town

How music, fashion and art has influenced this furniture store owners career

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Eddie Zoom is certainly one of Lower Kloof Streets more prominent stores, with it’s bright red exterior. It invites furniture collectors, but also those who are simply curious to learn what this store is all about. A step inside this unusual furniture store can only be described as travelling back to the 60’s and 70’s - an era when chrome, aluminum and plastic reigned supreme. There’s a story behind all this furniture, not merely regarding the era that it represents, but within the extraordinary life of the shops owner, the original Eddie Zoom. He supplies retro furniture to the international film industry and has even designed for the likes of Billy Connolly. I caught up with Eddie, keen to find out more about the major influences that music, fashion and art have had on one man’s eclectic design career.

What sparked your interest in 60’s and 70’s furniture? Did your parents occupations involve furniture?

Eddie:  “My father is an antiques restorer in Jersey, Channel Islands, although I have never been involved with his business. I started off as an antiques dealer, some 20 years ago, collecting 17th and 18th century French decorative items and chimney pieces. I would regularly frequent antiques dealers in Newark, United Kingdom, where some 5000 dealers would attend.

“It wasn’t until a visit to an eccentric friends house, that I became transfixed with eccentric, retro furniture. His home was fitted with aluminum, chrome, plastic chairs and retro light fittings – an inspiration to start collecting myself. I started to display retro furniture in the shop window of my antiques store on Lilly Road, Fulham, United Kingdom and, at first, people scoffed: ‘Where did you find that, Eddie? In a skip?’, but I knew it was going to happen.”

You spent seven years at design art college. Where were you based and what did you study?

Eddie: “I studied ladies fashion and textiles and fine art, at what is now known as the University of Lancashire, United Kingdom. My studies also touched upon photography and printing and it was during this time that I began to make one-off-design pots. When I left university, I went on to work at popular London fashion house, Harold and Geoffrey Wallace. I have always had an interest in fashion, as I feel that it bears such a large influence on interior design. For example, the tassels and bell bottomed trousers of the 50’s and 60’s.”

You travelled the world for 16 years. Did you draw any inspiration from your experiences?

Eddie: “I was particularly inspired by Italy – this country is home to natural born designers – some American and other European designers. I particularly love; Pier Giacomo & Achille Castiglioni, Italian designers, for their 60’s floss, ‘Tio floor lamp’, with it’s marble base; Verner Panton, a Danish designer, for his independent, mushroom-style light fittings; and Eero Sarinnen, a designer from Finland, for his tulip-style chairs. I enjoyed the arts and crafts period and believe that the likes of Charles Rennie Macintosh and Frank Lloyd Wright were ahead of their time.”

What influences have you drawn from your experience in the music industry?

Eddie: “I spent my younger days managing bands. I played percussion for the Rolling Stones and, in 1969, performed at the Hyde Park Concert. I also ran London’s legendary Marquee Club, which hosted some of the most influential bands of the 60’s and 70’s such as, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zepplin . The 50’s and 60’s was the era of my youth and I am reliving it through my passion for furniture from this period.”

How did you come to help compile Millers Antiques Books?

Eddie: “Having visited my original store in London, Zoom, Millers Antiques saw that I had the most amazing collection. It was something new that captured the changing art, fashion and music of the 60’s and 70’s. I started to provide photographs for collectors all over the world. My photography is mainly of 20th century designs, for example, a Charles Earnes Chair.”

You rent props to the film industry. How did this come about?

Eddie: “I supply props to the international film industry. For example, I was asked to provide props for Daniel Craig, of Bond movie fame such as, Albini lights. Rather notably, comedian, Billy Conolly, once asked me to design a studio with a stone age feel.”

Has your move to South Africa inspired your work?

Eddie: “My son is based here, so this is one of the main reasons I moved to South Africa. However, I am inspired by the basic, natural forms of design synonymous with South Africa.”

What makes Eddie Zoom unique compared with other furniture stores in Cape Town and can you describe some of your more prominent items?

Eddie: “It’s an original store that is inspired by the classics. I am a firm believer in one-of-a-kind collectors items and even design my own. For example, I have designed my own lamp. This lamp is heavily influenced by Verner Panton and Joe Columbo and is a floor standing lamp that gives the impression of four floating Saturn’s. I currently stock a Tecno Adjustable lounge chair, which has an incredible 486 positions, and a genuine, Eero Sarinnen table.”

How would you describe a typical Eddie Zoom customer?

Eddie: “Our customers are people who are new to retro furniture, but are excited about it and want to know more. Conversely, we also get avid collectors coming through our doors who are well read on the subject.”

What does the future hold for Eddie Zoom?

Eddie: “I just want to keep doing what I love most. I would love the opportunity to help decorate more interiors and would like to continue helping the film industry. I am not just a shop keeper; I am a dealer’s dealer and I am passionate and knowledgeable about what I do. I welcome anyone to come and have a browse and an informal chat.”

For more inspirational and unusual stores, be sure to visit our popular Shopping Section

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