Abrie von Wielligh and Norman Meyer co-founded Meyer von Wielligh, a carpentry and design studio based in George, in 2004. Their large-scale functional art pieces are all intricately crafted, reflecting the organic lines and intricate textures of their natural surroundings on the forested Garden Route of South Africa.
Integrity of materials and intricate craftsmanship are a critical part of Meyer von Wielligh’s design journey. Abrie and Norman use only registered wood and select every piece of raw timber themselves. The unique character of a particular piece of wood is always the starting point for their limited-edition designs, as well as their custom cabinetry and furniture ranges.
The pair’s insistence on tactility combined with an organic sensibility has become a cornerstone of their work. The Leaf sideboard uses the striated grain of oak to echo the veins of overlapping leaves and features details such as botanical-inspired dovetail joints. Their later 2 Oceans collection – comprising a drinks cabinet, table and sideboard, all statuesque in scale – is wilder and more experimental, replicating the organic crests of the rough seas that collide at the tip of the African continent. The sculptural pieces have been painstakingly hand-carved to imbue them with a distinctive pattern that is irregular, asymmetrical and utterly unique.
Von Wielligh, born in Namibia, and Meyer in KwaZulu-Natal, first met as students at Furntech in Cape Town, South Africa’s only centre of excellence for furniture. After completing their cabinet-making apprenticeships, they set up their design and manufacturing business in George. Meyer von Wielligh is committed to environmentally sustainable practices, has a tree nursery on its premises and educates its team of workers about green-living practices.
Southern Guild has exhibited the studio’s collectible work at Design Miami, Christie’s London, Design Days Dubai, and Exceptions d’Afrique in Paris. It collaborated with West Elm on the US retailer’s Design Under Licence collection, and has won the Best Furniture Design Award at 100% Design South Africa twice, in 2014 and 2015.