WORDS Malibongwe Tyilo IMAGES Micky Hoyle
Its founder calls Mad Giant Craft Beer “bold and audacious”. When it came to creating a home for it, Eben Uys looked for the interior design to match these qualities.
Johannesburg’s No 1 Fox Street Precinct has a history that goes back the late 19th century,, when it sprung up as one of the first mining camps. The first of its sheds were built between 1906 and 1907. Today, 1 Fox is a cultural hub and home to dynamic young businesses, including Mad Giant, itself home to several elements, among them a craft beer brewery, an Asian street food restaurant, a main bar, three beer-tasting pods and a beer garden.
As its name suggests, Mad Giant is a project that is as big as it is ambitious. The brand is the brainchild of chemical engineer turned brewer and entrepreneur Eben Uys. When it came to the interiors, he looked to furniture design brand and interior design studio Haldane Martin. “A major part of Eben’s brand is about being bold and audacious, and having the courage to go big, hence the name, which became the departure point for the design,” says studio founder Haldane Martin. This led him and his team to start experimenting with scale. “One of the most successful things we did was to take inspiration from Meccano, those kids’ construction sets,” says Haldane. “We played with the concept in full-scale furniture.”
Indeed, the outdoor seating consists of tables and benches that look as if they’re made of Meccano pieces one could take apart and put back together in a configuration of your choosing. This playfulness is carried through to the interior. There is the bar moulded in concrete to resemble a giant beer cap; and towering above it is a 7 m-tall yeti, the brand’s icon, here made of yellow zinc-passivated steel. “It’s your typical Gold Rush-era building: corrugated iron, I-beams, clay bricks, concrete floor… We left a lot of that intact.
Brewing is a rather industrial process, so it was quite fitting,” says Haldane. But don’t let that fool you – guests are not exactly roughing it here. Each piece of furniture was carefully conceptualised and designed from scratch by Haldane’s studio. “Coming from a furniture design background, we are able to do all of that a lot easier than a pure interior design practice. You won’t feel as though you’ve seen the chairs before or that you are using an ordinary café table. Everything was made for the project.”
The banquet seating – designed by Haldane and made by Leon at CCXIX – are a case in point. And so is the design for Urbanologi, the Asian street food restaurant headed up by chef Angelo Scirocco. “We had already started the design process when he joined and the Asian street food theme was settled on,” says Haldane. “We found it worked quite well with our initial ideas.
We pumped up the red, of course, which worked really well with the black timber. And we built a long counter that wraps around the minimalist kitchen as Angelo specifically requested.” Here, too, the black pendant lights that illuminate the counter where the final food preparation happens hang from red Meccano-style pieces, carrying through the combination of fun, scale, ambition and audacity perhaps best captured in Eben Uys’s words: “Mad Giant represents the small guy crazy enough to dream big and do something crazy.”
To make a reservation, visit Mad Giant’s website.