Emma de Crespigny’s store, The New Modernist, is one of the latest additions to Cape Town’s seemingly ever-increasing number of décor stores.
So, given the city’s myriad options for design-lovers, what what makes the store so unique?
“Well,” says Ms De Crespigny, “I deal predominantly in pieces from the 1950s through to the 1970s. The pieces I brought primarily from New York were rare in Cape Town because they were from my collection of American, French and Italian examples. I also brought in a lot of lighting that no one else has in Cape Town – again, because it is mostly mid-century French and Italian and differs from the norm. The furniture I have is mostly South African, such as pieces by EE Meyer, who had a factory here, and also Scandinavian.”
Bringing to her Bo-Kaap store a wealth of knowledge and experience, is clearly something Ms De Crespigny is proud of.
Offering some insight into her career background, the Vredehoek resident says: “I moved to New York in 2003 before moving back to Cape Town in 2012. During this time, I worked in Manhattan for a prestigious and internationally renowned dealer, Alan Moss, who specialises in 20th century decorative arts.
“I also completed my Master’s Degree in History of Decorative Art and Design from Parsons, in conjunction with the prestigious Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in New York. Upon my return to Cape Town, I bought a house in Woodstock that also served as a home to my first store called C20 Galerie.
“In 2016, I relocated my store to Bo-Kaap and opened The New Modernist next to it.”
As to her reasons for choosing to locate her store to the historic area, Ms De Crespigny says: “I wanted to be present in town, in proximity to Bree Street. The fact that Gallery Momo is on the same strip as is Eclectica Art and Design and a couple of smaller galleries, means that Buitengracht is slowly becoming a go-to locale for art and design.
“It wasn’t so much an interest in being in the Bo-Kaap itself, though it is an area I like very much.
“And it means that I get to attract a good tourist market.”