Guest feature with Haldane Martin


Twenty-twenty is a year of many unknowns and one that forced us to revisit our concept of ‘home’. Our idea of space and leisure in a country that inspires outdoor living has been recontextualised.

But to what extent has the reinstituted value of al fresco living – a term borrowed from Italian for “in the cool [air]” – impacted the local lifestyle design culture? And which trends that could not have been predicted for 2020 have since emerged and inspired the South African outdoors design scene?

In search of that fine line between ‘outdoors’ and ‘living’, we invited South African furniture design icon, Haldane Martin, to our (virtual) studio to reflect on humankind’s intrinsic need to be outdoors, and yet also to be able to enjoy a more exquisite life through design. Two lifestyle concepts that come together seamlessly in his creations.

Photo: Brett Rubin

Quite interestingly in 2020, our interconnected world, and particularly this global pandemic, has magnified the zeitgeist of the day. Humans seem to have embraced global macro trends far more rapidly and on a broader scale than before.

There are the overarching trends in design like going back to the home, looking to nature for inspiration and a growing concern with humanity’s impact on the earth.

Then there are also micro trends which you can pick up on Pinterest and Instagram. We tap into the geometric trend with the Hula Collection, rounded squares trend with Plat-O Tables and Swartberg sofas and then the Cha Cha occasional tables are very NOW with their Memphis-like characteristics.  

Appreciating authentic connection

Across the globe, we’ve sped up our move towards digitisation. For us, it meant making digital business seamless by providing everything clients need on our website from finishes, pricing and sizing, to CAD files available for download. Digital business, school and socialising are our new normal. And, perhaps as a rebellion against that, there’s a converse trend towards appreciating authentic connection, both with one another and with nature. 

In South Africa, with severe lockdown we were deprived of the humble everyday moments – hugs, shaking hands, seeing strangers’ smiles, surfing. We begin to treasure those small human things that we might have overlooked before. 

Beautifying our living experience

On a global scale, there’s a shift in our perception of what luxurious means. Status is authenticity, not pretence. We aspire to indulge in experiences rather than accumulating stuff; we want to consciously invest in quality pieces that reflect our values. We care about where things come from & how they’re made. And as we spend more time in our homes, beautifying our living experience is more important. Outdoor living is a luxury.

Cultural colour and richness

We’re so lucky here in Africa, particularly Cape Town. Despite being confined to our homes and cities, there’s this wealth of natural beauty everywhere to embrace and cultural colour and richness to enjoy. At Haldane, we have drawn from this bold South African natural palette, offering colours that compliment & contrast with the colours of the ocean, the forest, the grasslands and the earth

You can really play with your outdoor pieces and use colour, texture and the layout of your furniture to embody your desired atmosphere. Our hope is that our furniture is thoughtfully designed to manifest community and to help humans be together in nature, comfortably, for generations.


Photo: Pinterest @contrastbymoonbeam

Colours to bring into our summer 2020/21 palette: All greens, especially pale green and lighter romantic pastel colours. And if you are able to move away from the greyscale, add warm rich browns as an alternate neutral.   

For those with limited space, the key outdoor furniture pieces that can turn any patio into a stylish home-expansion is a tiny 2-seater table with chairs that fit snuggly underneath it. Like the Polka Café 2-Seater that can transform an awkward space into a tiny sanctuary for an aperitif. 

Durability is of huge importance when it comes to exterior design. Choose pieces that are going to survive the elements. Our materials are very intentionally chosen as the pieces must endure rain, frost, UV-rays, heat and wind. They must be able to be positioned on gravel, sand, grass, decks and uneven terrain. These are things that interior pieces do not have to contend with so make sure you are selecting pieces that are both beautiful and well-designed. 

“Designing meaningful objects and spaces helps us understand ourselves and creates a sense of belonging to our time and place.”

Haldane is an iconic global design brand creating premium outdoor furniture, designed in Cape Town for the ultimate contemporary outdoor living experience.  

The multi-award-winning furniture and interior designer behind the brand, Haldane Martin, is renowned for work with a powerful sense of identity and his earlier works are heralded as significant contributions to the South African design language. 

Haldane focuses on innovative outdoor leisure that elevates the connection with nature – designing luxurious furniture that enhances experience and celebrates slow living in comfort & beauty. 

Title image credit to Henrique Wilding


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