Inspired by beautiful locations around the globe, El Cabello on Gilbert Street is its own complete world where every item has a connection to its creator and a story to explain how it got there.
El Cabello: Wanderlust at home
Jane Holden first established her homewares concept store, El Cabello, on King William Road in Hyde Park three years ago.
“It really started with holidays,” says Jane, “[it was] born from a love of travel.”
And Jane has just finished another short trip – moving El Cabello from King William Road to the ground floor of a Forme Projex development opposite the Market Shed on Holland and IGA on Gilbert Street.
Jane acknowledges it may sound cliché to say the shop was born from wanderlust but, really, the genesis of El Cabello is anything but predictable.
“I travel throughout the world,” says Jane. “And I love staying in hotels with a particular design ethos, boutique hotels – indigenous to their place.”
Often it’s these places that provide the inspiration for El Cabello.
“I often find the most incredible objects in my hotel room or at the bar,” says Jane.
“And, really just out of curiosity I’ll pick it up and maybe remark to the bartender or the concierge about how beautiful it is and he or she will quite often know exactly where it’s made.
“So I find myself getting well off the beaten track and in an artisan’s kitchen,” says Jane, “in their back rooms, sharing lunch and sometimes I end up with nothing more than a wonderful travel story, while other times this journey will end up developing a product.”
El Cabello is a luxe furniture and lifestyle store with a contemporary aesthetic but the products for sale are also completely artisanal, created in direct consultation with craftspeople around the world.
The Batik napkins are an example in which Jane takes particular delight.
“I’ve got pictures of myself trying to do it, it’s incredibly difficult and there’s just no way to replicate it without the skill and experience of those artisans in Sri Lanka,” she says.
El Cabello has developed its own appellation system in a way, with each item on its shelves having a direct link to one of Jane’s expeditions overseas, where quite often she will visit the operation and the craftsmen and women in-person.
This means the shop functions as a beautiful sort of gallery, where you can come in and pick up and consider each piece for its own merits but also as a collection.
And while the retail space is cosy on Gilbert Street, it doesn’t feel cramped.
It’s no accident that the space flows effortlessly from Sri Lankan ceramic ware to Portuguese jewellery and bags from Ghana.
“I spent a good 10 years designing home interiors with my developer husband,” says Jane when we ask for an explanation of how she’s been able to create such a comfortable space with so much on show.
“I’m actually a minimalist at heart,” she adds. “El Cabello is all about building on top of a solid, chic and contemporary foundation and we do definitely help our clients beyond this store. I’ve even helped new apartment owners choose paint – and we definitely don’t sell paint,” Jane finishes with a laugh.
But she does sell almost everything else. The tables, chairs, stools as well as candles, soaps and mirrors all fit so cohesively together you may think they’re for display purposes only.
“And, even if we don’t have quite the right thing, often what’s in the shop will spark a conversation,” says Jane. “And then we’ll help our customers track down and bring in exactly what they are looking for. Because of our close relationships with each supplier, it’s not uncommon for us to commission one-off-pieces.”
Whether it’s a housewarming gift or your own apartment that needs a lift, El Cabello will open your mind to a more adventurous aesthetic.