Swan Café Crêperie | Interior by Haldane Martin

Swan Café: A Bit of French Heaven

by Marica Fick

Two months ago, VISI shared a quick article on a gorgeous new crêperie that recently opened its doors in the Cape Town CBD.  The accompanying images of the interiors were so lovely, bold, and striking that I immediately knew that this was a space I just HAVE to see in the flesh.

Located on the corner of Buitenkant and Barrack streets, in the bustling east city precinct, Swan Café boasts of being Cape Town’s first authentic Parisian Crêperie. One can thank the overseeing hand of owner and restaurateur Jessica Rushmere for this authenticity as she is French – born and bred. Jessica, who also owns La Petite Tarte in the Cape Quarter, desired to bring a slice of Paris culture and food to Cape Town.

The interiors were skilfully designed by Haldane Martin. Interestingly enough, Haldane also designed the super cool steampunk interiors of Truth Coffee which is just across the street from Swan Café.

Swan Café Crêperie | Interior by Haldane Martin
interior design: Haldane Martin   |  photographer: Micky Hoyle

Taking queue from the gorgeous swan logo, designed by graphic designer and illustrator Heidi Chisholm, the space features a bold and patriotic blend of blue, red and white.

The bold blue walls and beautiful monochromatic wallpapers serve as a gorgeous backdrop to the space. The side wall features the well-known Renaissance painting “Leda and the Swan” by Leonardo da Vinci, while the back wall is that of Jean-Léon Gérôme’s “Leda and the Swan”.
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Beautiful Petits Fours

Bloubergstrand by Ryan Hasselbach

A visit to the Bloubergstrand beachfront is such a pleasure.  The coastline with its magnificent view of Table Mountain and the City is so rich and striking.  The evening sunsets are typically African beachside – long and calming, inviting many of the locals to take the evening beachside stroll.

In winter the seas are typcially rough with waves lashing and crashing on the beach.  I find that equally as stimulating.  I would don my warm togs and go sit on a bench to watch the wild sea.

That is why I like the Petits Fours Deli in Bloubergstrand. It is situated a few metres from the beach, with only a tar road between it and the ocean. The inviting, relaxed and somewhat ‘earthy/natural’ interiors with a distinctive rustic french flair beckons you to a relaxing meet-and-greet time with friends.  The big windows facing onto the beach just create that seamless interaction with the coastal natural elements, that keep you totally connected to Cape Town and the sea whether the sun is sunning or the wind is ripping outside. Love it.

I am one of those folk that cannot sit in a ‘bad interiors’ restaurant.  It’s all about the ambience and experience for me.  I tend to take the lead for the food from the interiors, as crazy as that may sound.  But for me it is yardstick to measure the food experience by.  Naturally there have been times when the good interiors belies the bad food.

But not in the case of Petits Fours.  I am no foodie or food critic.  But I enjoy their light meals and could recommend this venue anytime.

Plus – they also retail lovely décor accessories and carry a range of embroided bedlinen. I just simply love this whole concept of combining retail with a coffee shop.  It has an “Olde Worlde” feel about it.

Another of my very favourite and regular beachfront eateries in Bloubergstrand is Ons Huisie. But more of that some time in the future.

Check out Petits Fours website: here. And some awesome news for you not residing in Cape Town – Petits Fours has “branches” in Durban and Joburg. Each deli has it unique “look” and the original flagship store is in Verdi Shopping Centre. If you have been to any of the other Petits Fours let us know what you thought!

Images 3, 4 & 6, 7 sourced via Petits Fours. All other images are property of The Design Tabloid.

Dear Me…

By Marica

Rose and I recently had a “town day” – a tradition we instituted after our move from our beloved little Victorian office in Kloof Nek to our current studio in Edgemead. We use our town day to soak up some of the City Bowl-inspiration & zing and to have a good scratch around Town for new or hidden treasures. We found one such treasure tucked away in an inconspicuous part of Longmarket Street.

Dear Me is a new brasserie & bar that opened earlier this year in a stunning 181 year-old, three storey building. Architect & urban designer Mario Bonadei undertook the massive task of restoring the geriatric building. It must have been no easy feat renovating the building to former glory whilst making allowance for the integration of the funky contemporary interiors designed by Francois du Plessis.

The trendy brasserie & deli occupies the ground floor. The predominantly white & gray interior with just a touch of fresh green and some natural timbers here and there compliment the exposed masonry of the existing building beautifully. I love the slightly industrial-looking glass pendant lights over the deli counter and the beautiful green honeycomb-like wine racks under the staircase.

Another quirky little feature is the various potted plants hanging upside down from the ceiling (wonder who waters it every week?) The quirky wall and mirror designs were designed by illustrator Daniel Ting Chong – quite playful.

Rose immediately recognised the beautiful crate-like (and slightly Provencial) storage & display unit as the fine craftsmanship of our friends at Moorgas & Sons.


The first floor is mainly used for functions. Open to the staircase is a funky little interlude lounge with quirky retro furniture and decor and a beautiful private dining area containing the “Chef’s Table” which hosts the Thursday evening food and wine pairing.

The private function room offers a blank canvas with its pure white walls and floors and the beautiful crystal chandeliers add just a touch of glamour and elegance.

The top floor contains the striking rooftop bar, Tjing-Tjing, that opens up to a lovely rooftop balcony (perfect for warm summer nights). The dominant feature of this intimate loft space is the beautiful existing timber roof beams, a rustic contrast against the bold & glossy blood-red bar with its gorgeous Tom Dixon brass pendant lights.

Another beautiful element is the black & white photo-collage wallpapered wall with the crochet-patterned mandala-like feature.

Even though this Tjing-Tjing is said to be Chinese-inspired it reminds me somewhat of a Russian tearoom – it must be the brilliant red bar counter and shiny faux leathers (maybe it’s a little of both like Tretchikoff’s Chinese Girl).

Chef Vanessa Marx makes delicious unpretentious food and the menu is changed daily. They have recieved glowing reviews so far….well worth a visit.

What an awesome find – Rose, I think we should have town days more often…

Images courtesy of Dear Me (thanks Ilse & Liza)

Dear Me:
165 Longmarket Street
Cape Town
Tel no: 021 422 4920
Fax no: 021 422 4815

Hemelhuijs – A Distinguishable Taste Of Designer’s Heaven

I am often amazed at life’s co-incidences and just recently, I once again discovered that every day life is riddled with co-incidences, and when you begin to connect the dots, a wonderful picture begins to emerge.

I am drawn to restaurants with beautiful interiors as a bee is to a flower and this happened again the other day during a rare trip into the Cape Town CBD. As I walked past these huge open windows of Hemelhuijs (a Dutch word meaning: “Heaven’s House”) I knew I had to go in and do what I enjoy doing – take in the interior. Coupled with that I decided that any venue that gets my blood coursing through my decorating veins the way this one did, must serve excellent food. And it did.

Check out the funky “graffiti” bulkhead. All the furniture is custom made (and can be bought…if I can remember correctly)

The co-incidences I found later were hidden in the fact that Jacques Erasmus (the owner, designer and distinguished restaurateur) is also the person responsible for Manna Epicure – one of my favoured eateries in the City Bowl District. I don’t get enticed into Town very easily but if you want to meet at Manna, then that will do it. A further co-incidence is that Jacques is the other half of a partnership with Neil Stemmet in Koncept Design – whom we featured recently as the designer of Cuvee. As I realise this, I begin to understand why it is that these interiors so appeal to me – their designers are cut from the same cloth (so to speak). Just my kinda cloth as well – with plenty of quirky, adventurous details filling the interior spaces.

The white floating shelves a strong contrast against the black wall…and the beautiful ceramic bust vases.

But back to Hemelhuijs – the striking features of the interior design is the excess (thankfully) of bespoke items mixed into the eclectic style of furnishings consisting of custom designed Zen tables and chairs, with a smattering of antique pieces. A magnificently carved, inlaid cabinet with marble top (the age of which I cannot recall) stands as proud as a Peacock, regally announcing that it is the unchallenged Pièce de résistance.

Jacques said the gorgeous antique cabinet is French.

But it has indeed got many a challenger in the variety of stunning features, one of which is the overhead bulkhead with it’s over all freehand drawings and writing in the most simplistic of form. You will find yourself hard pressed to stop staring at it.

Here you can still see the original massive Stag Horn air plant. Restaurant life didn’t seem to agree with the plant and it has since been replaced with a funky chandelier.

At the same height but a little distance away from it, mounted to the wall (a very impressive pitch-black wall – brought into balance by plentiful natural light) is a deer’s head with Jacques’ trademark broken crockery tucked into its horns.  While your eye is still roaming around the ceiling area, it will settle on a chandelier draped in who knows what. Apparently, it was originally a massive Stag’s Horn air plant, but that had to be shipped back to its home.

Beautiful little framed painting – hanging askew…as it should (just in case you were wondering).

A lonely small antique gilt framed art piece hangs rather lopsided – looking wonderfully and artistically out of place – but that is the beauty of it!

One of the striking ceramic busts again.

Busts, busts and more busts – unique white busts at that, made for Jacques by a Swish craftsman now living in Cape Town, the purpose of which it seems is multi-functional, be it vase or object d’art.

Even this beautiful ceramic mugs are custom-made.

There are just so many unique features to speak of but that would have me rambling on in my décor junkie fashion.  So, in closing, I have to draw your attention to the fact that your sojourn in Hemelhuijs will be made even more awesome, when you drink your Cappuccino from an unusual mug and eat from a delicate floral plate, each one different to the next.

I encourage you – go to Hemelhuijs – see it, feel it and experience it.  You will not regret it.


71 Waterkant Street

021 418 2042.

P.S.  Also be sure to check out Lanalou’s post on Hemelhuijs – as always she took her camera along and the images are simply stunning.

(All images via Hemelhuijs)

Simonsig’s Beautiful Restaurant, Cuvée. This Restaurant = Eye Candy

By Marica

Mother’s Day has snuck up on me. If Rose didn’t ask me where I was planning to take my mom I would probably have forgotten the special day completely (bad daughter, I know).

Sunday being two measly days away didn’t leave me with much time to plan so I jumped onto the internet (old faithful) to find a restaurant we can go to for dinner. My criteria – must have an intimate atmosphere, has to be pretty (I am an interior designer after all) and the food must be drool-worthy.

Then, as if by divine providence, I stumbled upon Cuvée’s website. Isn’t it a feast for your eyes – I just had to call Rose over to my PC to take a look. We obsessively tabbed through their image gallery for at least 30 minutes…

Cuvée is Simonsig Wine Estate’s signature restaurant which is located on the outskirts of Stellenbosch. I happen to be one of those lucky people who have the greater Stellenbosch area as a backyard so I’m quite ecstatic about this beautiful find.

What I absolutely love about Cuvée’s interior is the juxtaposition of opposing styles and elements that come together in a unique and harmonizing way. A mixture of old and modern, the traditional Cape Dutch manor house was converted into an eclectic jewel.

Interior designer, Neil Stemmet of Koncept Design, a self-confessed collector & curator, brought his distinct trademark style to Cuvée’s interior. The rather brooding, masculine spaces are beautifully accented by one or two bold colours. Bright yellow and red make for a quite dramatic contrast.

I adore the old heavy Dutch armoires and funky use of picture frames and crockery as wall features.

The lighting is also something special – the crystal chandeliers with various pieces of crockery stuck into it is quite ingenious.

Furthermore Cuvée’s menu looks mouth-wateringly delicious and the dishes have a certain sophisticated flair which reminded me that we all eat not only with our mouth but also with our eyes. Eish, those dishes look amazing.

And, and! I phoned – they have Mother’s Day lunch special! The irresistible three course menu designed with you and mom in mind at the cost of R260 per person is said to “indulge your taste buds”. It also includes a small gift and complementary glass of the iconic Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel celebrating its 40th anniversary this year as South Africa’s first Méthode Cap Classique.

Ladies and gentlemen…we have a winner!

Do yourself a favour and check out their website. And if you are planning to take mom out to Cuvée you best make a reservation – tyd is min!


The Mother’s Day lunch is on the 8th of May from 11h00 to 14h00.

Reservations:  (021) 888-4932 or send an email to cuvee@simonsig.co.za

Oh and check out the special Mother’s Day Menu: here.