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Home is where the Haas is

Home is where the Haas is

When Francois Irvine, Francois de Villiers and Glynn Venter decided to consolidate their creative stable of businesses under one roof under the brand name Haas Collective, they never imagined it would be in one of Buitenkant Street’s gorgeous heritage buildings. Nor did they anticipate the electric vibe that comes with being located in the East City Design and Innovation Precinct.

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The waiters at Haas are encouraged to curate their own uniforms

We chat to Glynn Venter, co-owner and executive creative director of the ad agency within the Haas Collective. ‘We started Haas in 2010: first the design-concept store, then the coffee shop and, soon after that, the ad agency. The former two were located at the well-known Rose Street venue in the Bo-Kaap, but unfortunately it became too small to host all the businesses. We were in three separate buildings and it became very difficult to run. When we drove past our new Buitenkant Street building one night and saw an auction sign, we were still looking to rent a new spot. After a tour of the interior with our agents, we knew it would be a great location for the new Haas and put in an offer.

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The attractive charcoal facade of the Haas building in Buitenkant Street

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A boardroom on the first floor of the ad agency features an artwork by co-owner Francois Irvine

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The café serves breakfast and lunch treats throughout the day

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Large portraits are dotted around the venue, like this one by Vanessa Berlein in the café seating area

‘The floor space of our building is just over 500m2 and we have about 30 employees in total, 15 working the coffee and design shop and 15 upstairs in the ad agency. We wanted an environment that inspires creativity, where people can have conversations about all things creative, with the help of some great single-origin and speciality coffees. The business model is designed so that each business runs separately but also feeds off the other; we wanted an ad agency with a difference and the same with the coffee and design shop. So not only do we play a part in creating some of SA’s most famous brands, but we also apply those teachings to our own business by practising what we preach.

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The three owners of Haas, Glynn Venter, Francois de Villiers and Francois Irvine

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Another portrait by Vanessa Berlein in the downstairs boardroom, used by the agency and patrons of the café

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Oldworld charm meets contemporary flamboyance in the interior decor

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The spiral staircase on the first floor connects the offices of the directors with the rest of the agency

‘As creative people we see the potential in things more easily, and when we saw the building we realised that it had none of its original authenticity – it was covered by years of dry-walling, ugly ceilings… we had to look past all of that – but we knew we had a gem. It wasn’t an easy task restoring a heritage building. We worked closely with the Cape Town Heritage Council to plan and research every single change we made. We looked for the beautiful elements that were hidden away, and then everything had to be approved, from the windows, doors, flooring and railings to the new engineered mezzanine floor. We also had to work with the aesthetics of the building. Thanks to one of the city’s best designers on our team, Francois Irvine, it took us about eight months to install new wiring and plumbing, and to open up the interiors to create a fresh new building that breathes!’

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‘We love the area, and the Cape Town City Improvement District (CCID) has played a great role in uplifting it. There are some other great coffee houses in the East City; we hope they can see that having more like-minded businesses will help to improve the area. We’re very excited to contribute to it in our Haas way’ – Glynn Venter, Haas Collective

 

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The café is filled with beautifully curated displays, like this one featuring locally made design products and a beautiful artwork by Krisjan Rossouw

 

East City Feats

Even though Haas itself offers excellent coffee and scrumptious treats, being part of the East City Design and Innovation Hub means the Haas directors enjoy getting out to explore the precinct’s crop of cool and quirky eateries, bars and shops. Here are some of Glynn’s favourites: New York Bagels for its fantastic fresh bagels. Dias Tavern for its Portuguese rolls. Charly’s Bakery for some delicious decadent cakes. Swordfern for a stylish haircut. Sins of Style for its fantastic tattoo talent. Lefty’s for an after-work drink.

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‘Our new space is open and transparent – and that’s exactly how we work as well’- Glynn Venter

 

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Words: Genevieve Putter Photographs: Lar Photography

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