Nando's new look gives SA design a boost
Next time you sit down to eat a lemon-and-herb pita and peri-peri wedges at Nando's, you could be doing so on a designer Vogel riempie chair or at a table specially created by Durban firm Egg Designs.
But no, your favourite chicken joint isn't morphing into a swanky, bespoke eatery.
Rather, in an unprecedented move for a homegrown brand, Nando's is putting its weight behind local design and rolling out a programme to include South African furniture and products in its restaurants across the globe.
What might sound like a nice opportunity to upgrade the look of its 1000-odd Nando's outlets - some as far afield as the US, Australia and Dubai - is actually a move that has implications for the design and furniture production industries in South Africa.
"We're implementing the project slowly and realistically," said Tracy Lee Lynch, a well-known stylist and curator of the project. "We'll start with 20 pieces by 10 designers that will be used by the Nando's interiors teams across the world. Customers in places such as Canada and the UK will see the best of our local talent."
Nando's CEO Geoff Whyte added: "Our overseas teams have been blown away by the quality of work South Africans are manufacturing. Hopefully this creates an international opportunity for them."
The brand recently completely revamped its headquarters in Troyeville, Johannesburg. It is now almost exclusively decorated in a riot of colourful and contemporary local furniture and art.
It will serve as the basis of their restaurant revamps.
As Nando's founder Robbie Brozin puts it: "This design initiative is a culmination of nearly 28 years of building a brand that stands for the best that Africa can offer. It moves us into another era, where we can take designers, manufacturers, artists and those whose creative and intellectual capital express this common vision of ours, on a most exciting adventure."
The project gives local designers such as Cape Town duo Pedersen + Lennard and Design Afrika the opportunity to produce their work in large quantities as opposed to small batches of an item for the few South Africans who can afford handcrafted goods.
Luke Pedersen said: "This is the first time in South Africa that big business is investing in us; they're integrating our community's work into their business model."
The initiative will also expose a new section of South African society to the work of the local creative community. "It will show people that the pieces South African designers are producing are made with love and are worth saving for and owning," Lynch said.