Chris Weylandt is the founder and CEO of Weylandts, South Africa’s leading furniture and homeware retailer. Inspired by his love of our continent, his obsession with design, and a driving passion for creating customer experiences, the savvy entrepreneur and creative force has built Weylandts into a world-class retailer.
How would you describe the Weylandts look?
Weylandts celebrates richness in design coupled with the use of natural materials and handcrafted skills. The brand’s natural rawness is balanced with refined, attentive craftsmanship and contemporary, timeless design. Weylandts is about raw, refined beauty, bold shapes, materiality, and authenticity.
Where do you find everyday inspiration and what influences your work today?
I find inspiration in travel, food, architecture, and nature. We have been fortunate enough to travel to many beautiful places, frequently off the beaten track. These trips are always deeply inspiring and we return filled with new ideas.I love to spend time close to product. I’m happiest in factories and I immerse myself in the manufacturing process, finding immense reward in the detail of creating the perfect product is very important to our brand and I have always preferred natural leathers with nature’s markings to glossy, over-corrected, and treated finishes. I love natural timbers, the way wood ages, and simple shapes that are timeless.
I don’t like to overcomplicate things in my life and in my business. Ours is a brand of barefoot luxury that cherishes design and encourages and supports artisanal work and handcraft skills, and we continually strive for quality and the ultimate retail experience. These sentiments are at the core of everything that we do at Weylandts.
I also enjoy reading about business challenges and current affairs and take inspiration from successful leaders and trailblazers who show the courage and vision to follow their dreams. With the travel restrictions in place as a result of the pandemic, we have had to look inward — both personally and regionally — to fuel our creativity. South Africa has such a rich design culture and this continues to inspire and invigorate our work. We have increased focus on our in-house designs and local production in our factories that manufacture a significant portion of our furniture ranges.
In terms of global design trends, where do you think Africa is positioning itself?
Africa is rising. There are a growing number of homegrown creatives who are making their mark on the global stage: incredible artists, designers, musicians, and entrepreneurs. I’m excited about the prospects ahead. As a brand, we are firmly rooted in this continent, this is our home and Africa has shaped me, my take on design, and what’s important in the way we live in our homes.
What do you do in your free time?
Spending time with family is essential for me. My wife Kim and I divide our time between city living, our wine farm Maison in Franschhoek, and our holiday home on the coast. Weekends are for relaxing. We love to cook, catch up on reading, dream up new plans, walk in the mountains or along the coastline, drink our wines, and talk for hours. Three of our four children are in the family business, which is such a privilege, and meal times are often spent discussing work — such an integral part of our lives.
Tell us what you’re most excited about at the moment.
Covid-19 has meant we have needed to re-evaluate our business model. The past 18 months have seen a greater focus on efficiencies, a reduction in overheads, and the introduction of better processes. We are doing a major expansion on our in-house manufacturing and distribution centre — all of which underscore our confidence in our business and the future of our country.
• From the July edition of Wanted, 2021.