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From Benoni with love

No idea is ever not worth exploring and most of all BE BRAVE. In furniture designer Neil Grantham's world, there are no rules

By Gugulethu Mkhabela | March 26, 2018 | Design

Benoni is the hometown of several hidden gems other than Hollywood actress Charlize Theron. It is also home to furniture designer Neil Grantham’s eponymous studio, where he creates inspired innovative designs.

One of the biggest projects that Neil has just completed is a bespoke seating installation for the Nando’s head office in London. The Nando’s bench is an awe-inspiring piece of art. The man behind the design tells us more about his innovative work, his favourite designers and what he’s currently working on.

Please describe the inspiration and design process in creating the Nando’s installation.

We were commissioned by Nando’s UK along with Fusion DNA to create a unique entrance piece for the reception area of their new HQ in London. The space is a truly unique one and we needed to get the most out of the floor space with structural support columns already in place. The inspiration for the design was influenced from previous wooden furniture we had produced – our ‘Parque wood’ range. The long thin slices of wood appear to create a sort of sculptural art, whilst still being structurally durable. Using this technique also suited the space, as we needed to weave and twist our way along walls and around columns.

Everything was shipped in 14 separate components consisting of nearly 900 uniquely sized pieces of wood since it was built on site. The overall size of the bench stretches nearly 18 meters across with approximately 25 meters of seating area. Once on site in London the real fun began, it was matter of joining each component together like a puzzle.

As you walk through the doors of the building you’re kind of greeted by what I hope is something that brings wonder and awe to all those that engage with it.

The Parque wood table is a table like no other.  Image: Supplied

The Parque wood table is inspired by curves and seems to change shape at every turn and in that way invites you to really engage with it. The 6 meter curved frame almost seems to disappear in the centre of the table. Visually this wasn’t something we didn’t want compromise on, so it meant getting some real engineering minds to assist us on how to make it happen. The end result is a marriage between art and engineering that is practical for everyday use.

Your favourite design pieces of all time?

They’d have to include architectural works by Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid. Some of Gregor Jenkins products give me a buzz too. Laury Wiid also has some really considered works. Atang Tshikare’s latest ‘Legae’ is pretty remarkable too. International favorites include Tom Dixon, Konstantin Grcic and Philippe Starck.

A restaurant/s you like to frequent because of its decor, art or furniture?

Marble restaurant in Joburg, The Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia, and Hemelhuijs in Cape Town.

What you know now, that you wish you knew before embarking on this decor and furniture design journey?

That no idea is ever not worth exploring and most of all BE BRAVE – there are no rules.

What are you working on at the moment, anything we can we look forward to?

Some new furniture pieces, a collaboration with a Cape Town based designer for a Nando’s piece in Melbourne, and an architectural pavilion, which I’m pretty excited about.

See more of Neil Grantham’s work at

Featured image: Supplied