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Loving Local

Why no two pieces of wooden furniture are the same

Phillip Hollander of Houtlander, which recently won the Best Furniture Design Award at 100% Design South Africa, tells as more about the beauty of working with wood

24 September 2017 - 00:00 By Roberta Thatcher

How did you get into making furniture?
While I was a student, I made furniture out of my dad's garage for family and friends. I soon realised my love for woodworking was going to be more than a hobby and started Houtlander.
My business partner, Stephen Wilson, started off as an apprentice for an Austrian cabinetmaker and learned his trade by working on yachts.
We met in 2013 on a furniture design exchange initiative in Sweden. After realising what a great synergy there was between us, Steve moved from Durban to Joburg and joined Houtlander.What's the story behind your company name?
My surname is Hollander, so it was a simple combination of the Afrikaans word for wood - hout - and Hollander.
What is best thing about working with wood?
It's a living material, so no two pieces are ever the same. That brings some challenges, but it's also what makes it fun. You will never stop learning new things about wood for as long as you work with it.
And the biggest challenge working with wood?
It moves! People don't always understand that wood will expand and contract with the seasons and moisture content in the air. If you try and contain this movement, it will warp or crack.
What makes a house a home for you?
Furniture that provides comfort and warmth. Pieces that are made for real living and can grow old with you.
A design tip for our readers?
Don't take tips from us. We are makers first, then designers.
Who would you love to own one of your products?
Gregor Jenkin was our first client at the 100% Design show. We love his work so that box is ticked.
A local design product you'd love to own?
The Meraki Daybed by Laurie Wiid van Heerden is a lovely piece.And an international one?
Anything from Russell Pinch.
An item you would love to design one day?
We are dreaming of designing and building our own boat...

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