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Lighting Mar 10, 2021

Up Close & Personal With Lighting Specialists Hoi P’loy

When it comes to unique vintage-inspired lighting, the team from Hoi P’loy are in a league of their own. As lighting specialists, we get the low down on the brand with top lighting tips for gorgeous interiors.

Guy and Ploy

Here’s what they had to share…

Tell us about the name of your business. What does Hoi P’loy mean as a brand?

The company’s name is derived from a play on words relating to the founder’s name (Ploy) and the Ancient Greek term “Hoi Polloi”, which means “the many” or “the working class”. We’re inspired by creating products that are built to last with a philosophy that meaningfully values all in the chain, from our team to our clients.

From beautiful cable lighting that took SA by storm many years ago, your range has increased vastly. Tell us more about the first thing you designed?

We’ve always been passionate about offering the highest quality, unique products, and indeed our custom made, imported Italian Fabric Cable broke new ground in the country. Our vast range of woven cord has been a reliable favourite of interior designers focused on offering refined sophistication for their clients ever since. As natural-born designers ourselves, we soon felt compelled to design and manufacture our own range of bespoke lighting right here in Cape Town. Our first foray into design and manufacturing took the form of a collection of Bakelite Pendant Lights with striking customized cable cord colours. From there we began to push ourselves on the design front to master various materials and production processes. This approach, besides being tremendously rewarding, has cemented our position as the leading go-to solution for high-end, locally manufactured lighting products that are extremely customizable.

Bureau Lamp Beech and Brass

Where do you find inspiration?

We’ve always been inspired by past masters. The values of yesteryear: “built to last”, have been our driving force from day one. We take our cue from that great era, in terms of approach to materials, service, experience and values. We are however living in a high tech, modern world, so we’re not shy to marry those principles with a contemporary design aesthetic. Through our travels abroad we’ve experienced some of the best service in the world and these moments continue to shape our aspirations to elevate the experience associated with our offerings.

 Tell us more about your design background?

Both founding partners have their roots in creative business fields. Ploy’s degree in textiles and time spent working in the fashion industry in Bangkok, Hong Kong and Cape Town along with Guy’s foundation in graphic design, animation and TV commercials have made for a powerful creative force. Design is about problem solving, and approaching this with sensible, and sustainable solutions that are visually striking is where we shine.

You recently expanded to a larger manufacturing workshop where your ideas and prototypes are vast and customers can engage directly in the workshop  – does this change the way you design?

Purchasing our own building has been a liberating experience for our business. It has given us the confidence to invest in purpose built manufacturing infrastructure and to invite our clients to see first hand what it means to design and produce quality goods in South Africa. Unlike companies that rely solely on “off-the-shelf” imported catalog components, we have been empowered to differentiate by offering true customized design elements that can be produced with short lead times and with quality control at our fingertips. This means that in turn, the turnaround time for our clients is quick, which relieves a great deal of stress particularly on architectural and interior design projects.

Hoi-Ploy 48 Hopkins-Street Showroom

What inspires you to keep designing and remain in the spotlight?

We were once asked what our definition of success was. After some careful contemplation we realized that for us, success meant that we were in a position to indulge in any design fantasy that piqued our interest. We have so many ideas, not just in the lighting space, but design solutions in general, and we lap up any opportunity to push boundaries with new ideas, materials and processes. We’re delighted everytime we are able to conjure up meaningful experiences for people with nothing more than our ideas and perseverance.

Molecule 8 Brass

What makes a good lighting design?

Lighting design is about finding a balance between sculptural elements, technical requirements, functionality and ultimately atmosphere. A skilled lighting designer plays with these four elements, constantly tweaking and experimenting with the variables until finally settling on an end result, which if well executed appears beautiful in its simplicity, and yet doesn’t detract from it’s value to the user. The final product should empower the user to control their atmosphere with ease and delight.

If  you weren’t a designer, what would you be?

A fascinated observer of the world.

What’s on your bedside table right now?

A dimmable “Nijntje” Lamp.

What are your top lighting tips for home offices?

Every home office requires at least one functional task light. This would usually be a desk lamp, but one could also have a floor standing option next to the work area. The primary goal would be to create a focused pocket of light that’s a good strength and colour temperature to work by without hurting the eyes. Adding some warm lighting with a decorative wall sconce can also help to soften the mood so that it doesn’t become too corporate – afterall, it is your home, and it’s important to create a sanctuary that you can’t wait to spend some quiet time in. We’ve designed a range of “portable” wall sconces that don’t require an electrician, and simply plug-and-play. This is great especially for people who rent, or if you plan to move to a new home in the future.

Empire Pendants Home Office

 How can you create the ideal lighting for entertaining family and friends at the dining table?

The dining area is one of the few opportunities we get to manifest the lifestyle we all aspire to. It’s a space that is shared through good times, and meaningful moments. It’s important to tap into our primal hardwiring for warmth and comfort that we developed around a communal fire over thousands of years. The logical progression from this would, at one time have been candlelight, and if we are to maintain that trajectory then warm, soft atmospheric light from a dropped light such as our Empire Pendant or chandelier with multiple bulbs, such as our Molecule Light will evoke similar experiences.

Unity Pendants

What is the best way to properly showcase a home art collection?

Lighting an artwork should be done to primarily focus one’s attention on the artwork itself. Having said that it doesn’t mean that the fighting fixture itself can’t also look distinguished in a subtle manner.  As part of our ongoing design process, we have a new light in the pipeline that’s specifically designed to illuminate artwork in the home – visit our website in the near future to see when it’s launched. 

What about the kitchen? When building a new home, how can you create just the right lighting in the kitchen? 

Much like the home office a new home offers and opportunity to carefully plan the ultimate lighting setup. Kitchens have evolved from being purely functional to being a central part of family life, and are an especially popular hub when hosting dinner parties. People naturally congregate around the host in the kitchen as meals are prepared. For this reason we would begin by installing well-placed down-lights in key work areas, such as over the stove top, kitchen counter and other work surfaces. Then to maintain a romantic atmosphere, some warm filament bulbs hanging from the ceiling help to balance the space. Our Cluster Pendant range has been specifically designed for flexible customisation in these areas which allows one to express a unique personality and style.

Cluster Pendant

What about the entrance of a home? What lighting would you recommend here?

While some may choose to light these spaces with a big, showy light, we lean toward a subtle yet classy collection of dropped brass lights. Our Winston collection is an understated way of demonstrating good taste to the discerning guest.


Fabric Cord Colours



 Shop the range at Hoi P’loy.

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