Who am I?
After survival and reproduction, this is the most powerful question we ask ourselves as human beings. It is also the question that differentiates us from other creatures. This quest to define ourselves drives my work as a designer.
Much of my early furniture design work has been about asking the question: Who are we as new South Africans post-1994? The beginning of my career happened to coincide with this positive turning point in South Africa’s history. The Zulu Mama chair, Fiela Feather lights and the Songololo Sofa, launched 10 to 15 years later, were my attempts to provide a tangible answer by expressing our unique multicultural identity as a nation through these physical objects, helping to understand ourselves and creating a sense of belonging to our time and place.
Since Zuma’s administration much of this naivety has evaporated and been replaced with a more pragmatic desire to make a positive difference to South Africa’s economy through commercial interior design. I have taken my sensitivity to identity and skill to manifest this through objects and spaces and applied these to helping innovative businesses deepen their own sense of identity and purpose in the marketplace and express it through interior design.
When my clients join me on this journey and ask themselves the age-old question, “Who are we, and what unique value do we offer the world?” great things happen, the essence is uncovered and new parts are discovered. Through forging unique, expressive spaces, a new icon is born.
South African designer Haldane Martin founded his eponymous design studio in 2002 to create iconic furniture designs and later interior spaces with a powerful sense of identity and conceptual depth.
As a designer he has been instrumental in the emergence of a new South African design language and identity, both in his early signature furniture designs and more recent commercial interiors that contribute towards the evolution of culture.
Early works such as the iconic Songololo sofa and Zulu Mama chair were groundbreaking South African designs that seamlessly integrate indigenous craft, sustainability, cultural identity, biomimicry, geometry and digital design, becoming highly sought after by design collectors worldwide.
The studio’s more recent high-concept interior design work has garnered global attention. Haldane Martin works together with commercial brands to create extraordinary spaces. Transforming concepts that capture the essence of a brand into innovative interiors with unique character, original furniture designs and custom fittings, each interior manifests the brand’s identity in a physical, three-dimensional form.
Haldane Martin’s first large-scale commercial project, Truth Coffee’s steampunk-inspired HQ in Cape Town, was named “world’s best coffee shop” by MSN Travel in 2013 and The Telegraph UK in 2015, and won the Gold Loerie for interior design that year. This concept interior with its unique bespoke elements is exemplary of the studio’s ability to tap into the essence of the client’s brand identity and express it through objects and space in an iconic way.
Haldane Martin is a trained industrial designer with over two decades’ experience working as a furniture designer. He established his design brand Haldane Martin furniture in 2002, and in 2011 evolved the business to include an interior design consultancy, as Haldane Martin Iconic Design.
Born in Johannesburg in 1970, Haldane had a passion for design and making things from an early age, shaping his own skateboards, sailboards and surfboards as a teenager. This led to studying industrial design at the then-Cape Technikon – now Cape Peninsula University of Technology. He graduated in 1992.
Through running his own design firm Brave New World from 1994 to 2002, to establishing his current furniture and interior design company, Haldane Martin has earned a reputation as a foremost South African designer.
The Haldane Martin brand is also growing a name as an interior design consultancy. Haldane’s 20-year experience in furniture design has set him apart as an interior designer. His keen understanding of how things are built lends a higher level of innovation. His honed skills enable him to create and execute high-concept interior elements that capture and express each client’s unique identity in an iconic way at the same time as solving complex functional design challenges.
For Haldane, a design is intuitively recognised as iconic when it marries innovation with beauty and captures the zeitgeist of the day in a timeless fashion. He believes in integrating conceptual depth, aesthetic beauty and elegant functionality into one seamless whole.
Based in Woodstock, Cape Town, Haldane Martin Iconic Design is a boutique design studio.
The small, award-winning team, led under the design direction of Haldane Martin, has key experience in commercial interior design and project management.
The design team includes: Kobie Griffiths, an interior project manager and qualified interior designer, with 9 years’ experience in residential, commercial, hospitality and retail designs and fit-outs; Jarrod Morkel an interior design technician with 6 years’ experience in high-end commercial, residential and hospitality sectors; and Julia Rubio, a graduate architect with a vocation towards temporary architecture and landscape installations – with working experience in retail spaces in Spain and Germany.
With a strong, highly competent design team to focus on project management and technical production, this differentiated way of working allows Haldane to focus on design: both of striking new furniture pieces and concept-driven interiors with bespoke furniture designs.
Renowned for its iconic South African furniture designs – featured in a range of exhibits and collections from Design Indaba to the Nando’s Design Collection to the Cape Town World Design Capital 2014 – to high-concept interiors that have received global acclaim, Haldane Martin and his design firm have received the following accolades.
Gold Loerie – Three Dimensional & Environmental Design – Interior Design & Temporary Structures – Truth Coffee Headquarters 2015.
Loerie Awards: 2nd overall in Communication Design and in the small agency category – official Loerie Rankings 2015.
Elle Décor SA – EDIDA – Designer Of The Year 2010.
Real Simple SA – Green Innovation Award (Design) 2008.
SABS DISA award – Zulu Mama 2007.
Elle Décor SA – EDIDA – Furniture Designer Of The Year 2004.
Elle Décor SA – EDIDA – Designer Of The Year 2003.
Short course – Natural Step – Principles of Sustainability 2003.
Won House & Leisure – Best Chair Design 1995.
Won Style Design Awards – Functional Animals – Bug Bed 1994.
Won Style Design Awards – Multi Functional Screen Light 1992.
Make it New, an exhibition by the CCDI as part of Cape Town World Design Capital 2014.
Interior design exhibition – 12 Rooms (the secret 13th Room), Leon at CCXIX, 2014.
International design exhibition – Materials Revisited, 10th Triennial for Form and Content, Museum of Applied Art, Frankfurt, 2011.
Southern Guild Exhibitor 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012.
Multiple trade shows New York, Cologne, Madrid, London, Paris, Copenhagen, Oslo, Helsinki, Dubai, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, 1994 – 2012.
International design exhibition – Experimenta, Pace Of Design, Lisbon, 2009.
Speaker at Open Design Cape Town 2016.
Speaker at Business of Design, Cape Town 2015.
Speaker at Creative Business Exchange, Decorex SA, Cape Town 2015.
International Restaurant & Bar Awards judge 2012.
Pecha Kucha talk – Helsinki, Finland 2010.
Speaker at Design Indaba Expo 2009.
Speaker on Design Indaba Conference main stage 2007.
Multiple local design competition judging 2004 – 2012.
Multiple talks at high schools and design colleges 2004 – 2012.
Frame Night Fever 5, Hospitality Design, Frame Publishers, 2017.
Africa Rising – Fashion, Design and Lifestyle from Africa, Gestalten, 2016.
Weekend Edition TV Show, SABC3, 2016.
Contemporary Design Africa, Thames & Hudson, 2015.
Frame Night Fever 4, Frame Publishers, 2014.
Television profile feature – Top Billing 2011.
Featured designer in Desire, Shape of Things to Come, Gestalten, 2009.
Featured in selected South African high school design curriculum and textbooks, 2007 – 2012.
Multiple features in local and international design magazines, 1992 – present.
View magazine features and online press coverage here.
Modila Design Museum content advisory committee member 2012.
South African Luxury Association member 2011.
Design Network Africa member 2011.