Owners of Bamboo Palace, Kevin Collins and Nicholas de Beer, say it’s a studio and workshop for the rejuvenation of people and furniture.
Nicholas was a kitchen renovator, and I (Kevin) work in advertising and I’m also a painter. I had been running a student digs, and when I closed it down I was left with a pile of ghastly furniture. When Nicholas refreshed it with some paint and filler effects, we realised that we were on to something, and decided to see if we could share our skills – and our wares – with the public. The Bamboo Palace was opened 18 months ago.
Why did you choose this area to set up shop?
We were always fascinated by the space down by the river at the bottom of Delta Park. It is agricultural land in the heart of the city, administrated by the Rand Epilepsy Employment Association (REEA), and we just believe that there’s something magical about this juxtaposition.
We took in a proposal to negotiate with the REEA board to open our shop there. They looked at their land and offered us a space with a broken slab and asked us if we could use it and build there, and we did.
Why are the premises ideally suited to your business?
The premises have a large outside space surrounded by beautiful trees. Painting is a messy business, and we can have the joy of splashing without worrying about carpets. They are also airy and have patches of shade, so we can move around with the sun, finding the perfect spaces to paint. The shop we built is ideal for showcasing our furniture, and the outdoor space is also great for the workshops that we run.
We have the Colorful Splendour Nursery, the REEA vegetable garden, a second-hand bookshop, the Delta Cafe and the horse stables where people do riding lessons.
What are the shop rental/sales prices like in this area?
The rates are R120 to R160/m2, but negotiable depending on what the tenant brings to the community – whether they are able to engage meaningfully.
What is your shop footprint?
During the week, we get 10 to 20 people a day. On Saturday we can get up to 50 people marching through. Once we’ve been discovered, people almost always come back, bringing a friend and a piece of furniture. We do restorations for them, but for us, the first prize is to get them to feel that they can do it themselves.
Do you have any expansion plans?
We would like to get our workshops up to full capacity, running weekly or twice weekly events for the same groups of people – like a book club. We’d provide wine and a snack, and they’d provide the community to support each other through the process of restoration. It’s heart-warming to see people all leaping in, getting dirty and helping each other.
We respond to queries, take bookings and interact a lot on our Facebook page.
What’s your most popular item?
Our fastest-selling items are bedside pedestals in matching pairs. People don’t really think about them until they need them and then have to fork out R4,000 or even R6,000 for a new or antique pair. We can paint repurposed dressing tables or desks, or original pieces, for around R600 to R1,400 for a pair. People also like clever packing spaces because of the decreasing size of living spaces.
071 337 0644
Words: Georgina Guedes
Images: Ter Hollmann