“We build solid furniture,” Louis says. And judging by their discerning client list, they are good at it. Singita, Ulusaba, Kings Camp, Casterbridge Hollow Hotel, the Cape Grace – even the Cardosa hotel in Maputo are furnished with Hans van der Merwe pieces.
Which is remarkable since the business began as Hans’ hobby in the family garage many years ago. Eventually, the business was formally set up with Louis and his father Hans, and a few members of staff. At the time, Hans’ wife, Jeanette, owned a curio shop in White River called African Hut (where the Ocean Basket is today) and the furniture was sold from there.
As the order book filled, the company expanded and opened at the Bagdad centre just outside of town, and eventually settled in their current premises at Casterbridge.
By far the bulk of their clientele are interior designers, and while Hans van der Merwe carries a range of designs, most of their work is bespoke.
Their standard style is classic Victorian and Georgian, but they’ve added a more contemporary feel to their later ranges.
They work mostly in imported African mahogany and local Saligna and employ 16 local craftsmen.