We are currently obsessed with Tipo Tinto rum, new in South Africa the rum originates from Mozambique where it is loved by locals and smuggled out by those who pass through. We served it at the opening of Merchants Cafe mixed with fresh mint, muddled lime and fresh passion fruit charged with soda water in our ostrich egg cocktail glasses perfect for a summers day.
When Laura and I first started talking to Tammy and Hanneli about the potential for opening a café across the road from Merchants on Long, we knew that we would be working on something special. The concept was to create a café that supported new and local talents, it was to be inclusive in concept and operation but exclusive in output, it had to be a simple and sophisticated blank canvas onto which each of the pop-up restaurants could imprint their own ethos.
As brief’s go, that’s pretty much as open and free as they get, and we couldn’t help but be super excited at the prospect of working with the Merchants team!
As with all projects we work on, we started with at the beginning – somewhere in the 1800’s that is. The Collison’s building (originally called The Langham) has had a pretty interesting past; it’s been a hotel, a bottle store and even a surf shop. Taking these factors into consideration we were sure we wanted to use its providence as a point of departure and we did this by stripping away at certain layers and adding to others. By reinterpreting points in its history in a more modern way we’ve managed to design a restaurant that pays respect to its past but is still relevant today.
So what to expect? A beautiful bronze Terrazzo we designed ourselves, 16 000 fairy lights, white on white textured walls and hues of brown and blue.
We can’t wait to share the results with you!
Merchants is Very Proud to have Liam Mooney part of the Merchants Cafe team and we thought it would be best for you to get to know a little more about him. After studying Industrial Design and graduating from Cape Peninsula University of Technology in 2006, Liam Mooney went on to start his own furniture range and simultaneously partnered up with Justin Rhodes and Cameron Munro to start Whatiftheworld / Design Studio, which focused on promoting the work of young South African creatives.
Famous for his Arc Lamp which won the best lighting design award for the South African leg of Elle Decoration International Design Awards. Liams work has been featured in international magazines such as Elle Italia, Travel & Leisure (USA), and Wallpaper Magazine, which named him as ‘one of the top 20 reasons to be in South Africa in 2011’. Keep an eye out for Liams Updates on the progress of Merchants Cafe.
Meeting all the players behind the new Merchants Café at the eponymous retail space was a dream come true. We visited the proposed café, which lies directly across the road from the original Merchants shop, and found a space that was being pulled apart, sanded, bashed in-and-out, scraped and considered. It was on the upstairs balcony, looking back towards Merchants on Long over the street, that I could fully-admire the beautiful terracotta facade of the late Victorian building. It bewitched me. It didn’t take long for me to decide that I would be playing with the decorative features of the building in my designs. It seemed a happy marriage of the two buildings, the histories of the people involved and the play between past-and-present.
The next day I ran off to find shapes and forms of ceramic tableware that I thought would speak to the Merchants Café aesthetic. I spent the better part of a day creating variations of a Merchants Café crockery range that felt instinctively right. I experimented with matt and high-gloss glazes for a tactile, smooth finish. I also incorporated our meltware technique for some of the beverage cups. The larger pieces are all adorned with a hand-drawn monogram, cartouche or with Merchant Café word play. Each piece is unique, hand-crafted and beautiful. A fortnight later, the chefs, Liam Mooney and company all got to see the samples and judging by the looks of delights and squeals of Joy, I felt that we had reached something really special that would be enjoyed by the people that we look forward to welcoming to the new café.
Michael Chandler, Ceramicist