At Village n Life, forming solid relationships with trusted suppliers is paramount. Making use of quality suppliers, that are dedicated to their craft is essential in running any successful business. That’s why we have an array of suppliers that are so much more than just suppliers – they’re partners.
One of the suppliers that we have built a wonderful, trusted and dedicated working partnership with over the years is with Francois Carstens of Cape Select Furniture.
Francois has been a trusted and beloved supplier of beautiful, wooden furniture to various Village n Life properties for over a decade. His journey with Village n Life started almost by chance, and since then, he has supplied our hotels with stunning, custom pieces.
We recently caught up with Francois and asked him about his business, his love for his craft, and what he loves most about partnering with Village n Life for so many years.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business, Cape Select Furniture. How long have you been in business?
I’m a farm boy. I was born on a fruit farm in the Klein Karoo called Vleiland near Laingsburg. I went to a small farm school, totalling 17 kids in the entire school, from sub A (grade 1) to standard 4 (grade 6).
The Karoo is still in my blood, and I still miss the smell of the veld, the smell of the freshly tilled soil and the sound of cows coming home – but my love for woodwork won in the end.
My dad’s love for restoring antique furniture in the winter time when he had spare time, sparked my passion for woodwork. I started working for the initial owner of my business as a cabinetmaker and 15 years ago, when he retired, I bought the business from him.
This year, Cape Select Furniture has been making furniture for 38 years.
In my spare time (and I believe everyone has that) one must be able to say at the end of each day “I have used this day up”. So my spare time is spent in my home workshop restoring vintage cars. On my list is a 1948 Chevrolet sedan delivery, a 1953 Chevrolet pick-up, a 1931 Dodge Brothers, and I am just finishing my latest project, which is a 1934 Plymouth Coupé.
These all take around 3 – 5 years per project. There is also still a 1926 Ford Model T lying in thousands of pieces of rusted remains that I would still love to resurrect, granted enough healthy years!
All of this happens in the evenings under the watchful eyes of my best friend and psychiatrist, my bulldog Napoleon!
What inspired you to become a furniture designer/manufacturer?
As far back as I can remember, the urge to design and build things with my hands has always excited me. Dreaming about new ideas, either just functional or attempting to create something that is as pleasing on the eye as the creations of the old masters, like Grinling Gibbons did, has always been a challenge for me.
It used to get me into trouble in my school years, too, because it is all I wanted to do!
You have been a supplier of fine furniture for Village n Life for a number of years. How long have you been a supplier for Village n Life?
10 years and counting… and we are just getting started!
How did your partnership with Village n Life come about?
At the start of 2009, [Village n LIfe Chairman] Maree Brink decided to give The Bay Hotel an upgrade; bringing in more modern and timeless designs in high quality, solid wood. The hotel has a beautiful, picturesque setting, so an upgrade was in order.
An aesthetic advisor heading the project at the time called me to do a very small conversion in changing a drawer in the Penthouse to accommodate a DVD player. I remember being quite annoyed at the fact that I had to travel to Camps Bay for such a small issue… well was I wrong!
Immediately after meeting Maree it was clear to me what a brilliant entrepreneur he is, with very high standards and a huge appreciation for good craftsmanship.
Long story short, his mind was made up: solid wood furniture throughout the hotel!
And that’s how a good working relationship was born. Today, I am proud to claim that Cape Select Furniture are the makers of all the wooden furniture for all of Maree’s hotels, guest houses and private residences.
If you had to choose, what has been some of your favourite pieces you have manufactured for Village n Life?
Today, 10 years down the line, I think it is fair to say that there is more furniture at The Bay Hotel that we made than that we didn’t make. That makes me proud to add my name to the list of preferred manufacturers, as the furniture manufacturer to such a fine establishment, and to a long list of Maree’s other facilities.
What do you enjoy about working with Village n Life?
First of all, there’s always a new challenge. Maree always wants designs that are as practical as possible, yet aesthetically pleasing on the eye. The challenge is to achieve that in a design that can handle the wear and tear of a “not-necessarily-caring” hotel guest, but that the piece is still pleasing on the eye 10 years later.
What are your future plans for your business?
Well, I have no desire to retire! A healthy body creates a healthy mind.
The day of my funeral, I’ll still make my last delivery in the morning and meet you for a braai in the afternoon! I plan to keep Cape Select Furniture creating conversation pieces as long as the Good Lord grants me good health.
Finally, if someone wanted to get into the furniture design/manufacturing business, what is the most important advice you’d give them?
I think the desire to design and manufacture is embedded in one’s foundation, in your soul. If it is there, you won’t be able to keep it in – it bubbles over and you will know without a doubt that it is there.
There is no better feeling than to be able to stand back and say “I made that!”.