Part heritage, part ultramodern, Phillip Hollander and Stephen Wilson create furniture that’s as captivating in its simple elegance as it is in its craftsmanship. Houtlander, the pair’s newly-launched brand, brings the age-old craft of carpentry into the age of 3D printing, proving that technology and tradition are hardly strange bedfellows.
A chance meeting at a furniture design exchange in Sweden in 2014 saw Phillip and Stephen find instant creative synergy, despite very different backgrounds (Phillip was a businessman while Stephen was in furniture and cabinet making). Three years later, that very same dynamic – woodwork, technology, coding and functional design – caused their nascent brand to come to life. ‘We love the way traditional joinery works, in that you needn’t use screws and nails, but rather well thought-out joints and fixtures,’ says Stephen. ‘If you look at how pieces have been put together in recent times, it relies heavily on a mechanical presence, poor adhesives and even poorer fixings. But now, with robotics and 3D modelling, we can efficiently create high-quality joinery.’
Backed by this philosophy of quality before all else, tech-frontier production and just the right amount of nostalgia, the duo have (after a 10-month lockdown in their studio) launched their debut collection.
‘Our approach is hands-on and connected,’ says Phillip. ‘We chose woodwork and furniture making because it’s an honest endeavour, inspired by the tradition of Scandinavian artisanship passed down through generations.’ And with the brand claiming the coveted title of Best Furniture Design at 100% Design SA earlier this year, it just goes to show that honesty is the best policy.
Photography Annalize Nel; Supplied