And no, there’s no secret network of furniture merchants with access to shipping containers or warehouses filled with valuable goods. “There’s no magic to it,” confirms Andrew of his process. “Everything is acquired individually,” he says, gesturing at his boggling collection. “I can tell you where I bought that, where I bought those… I mean, there’s hundreds of purchases here.” Andrew spends a significant portion of his time researching the origins of his purchases, scouring catalogues to verify authenticity, and applying his learnings to a restoration process that honours the intent of the designer or manufacturer. “It’s always running around trying to find a part for something,” he says, or finding an artisan who can make material-specific repairs that reinforce quality and prolong lifespan. “Pricing is tricky. I always think my things are worth more than I sell them for, because I think they really are, but I have to look at what people are prepared to pay.”
There’s something eccentrically romantic about the fact that this collection of objects, originally from disparate corners of the globe, are all sourced in South Africa. Each piece has had a life in this country before it arrives at The Space Agency, where it is either restored, refurbished or reappraised by Andrew before being sold into a new space. The idea of inanimate objects metamorphosing as they move through the world adds further depth to the pun that is The Space Agency: “I’m an agency for your space, right?” Andrew explains. “And it’s a play on the idea of NASA, American 1970s vintage, the space shuttle and, you know, an idea of the past.” Andrew does love a pun: “I’m probably better than you at dad jokes. I tell the worst ones.” —
Andrew Porter owns a lot of things. Do a 360 in his storage space and you’ll process a seemingly haphazard array of chairs, tables, couches, pots, vases, lamps, shelving, ceramics, cabinets, candle holders, ashtrays, stools, benches, paintings and books. This carefully vetted collection of post-war to post-modern era pieces, posted for purchase on The Space Agency Instagram, is fostered in the cornered off back end of a warehouse-style parking lot in Cape Town’s Woodstock, the kind to be found only by those who already know where it is. Taking in the gamut of cheerful imitation furniture to rare treasures like a vintage Alessi kettle, Murano glassware and Le Corbusier casino chairs, the inevitable question bubbles up: Where does it all come from?
“And my answer,” says Andrew, “is literally, I find my stuff wherever you can.” That means auctions and online: Facebook Marketplace more than Gumtree, these days. The difference is, “I’m looking all the time, and you’re not.” An aptitude for spotting viable pieces, paired with a discerning eye honed through years of studying fine art and architecture, has grown Andrew’s business over the past four years through a global pandemic—no small feat. “I sort of came upon this by accident,” Andrew admits. “I found some things on Marketplace that were cheaper priced. I thought, jeez, I’m sure I could sell that for more.”
“Everything is acquired individually,” Andrew says, gesturing at his boggling collection. “I can tell you where I bought that, where I bought those… I mean, there’s hundreds of purchases here.”
 Everything must go. “I never get hung up on things,” says Andrew, posing for a portrait in his Woodstock storeroom.
On a brass and lucite 80s side table, a textured 70s stone vase from Salem Pottery in the Free State is reframed.
At the base of this evergreen selection, a Brazilian mid-century lounge chair (model MP 041) by Percival Lafer from the 70s seats a plastic side table, upside down 80s Kartell bin, and the Ikea Mammut bedside lamp by Morten Kjelstrup.
Here, an 80s Omstak chair by Rodney Kinsman for the Italian studio Bieffeplast takes centre stage. Behind it, to the right, a post-modern bar cart with tonal red rails by Anna Anselmi, also for Bieffeplast, peaks out.
A vintage ceramic horse trots across a selection of vintage German and South African ceramics.
Wading through a lake of boxes, packaging, and a marble table base, a trio of brass swans glisten in the afternoon sun.
Atop a marble and brass side table, a large mid-century ceramic ashtray from the 70s is repurposed to serve a pair or aubergines.