Inside Look: Haas Advertising

PHOTOS Micky Hoyle PRODUCTION Sumien Brink WORDS Malibongwe Tyilo

We venture upstairs to Haas advertising, the ad agency that sits above the most beautiful coffee shop in Cape Town.

Housed in a heritage building across the street from the Cape Town Magistrates’ Court, Haas occupies an impressive space – detailed but far from cluttered, open-plan yet warm.

The Haas Collective’s previous home became too small to house the three businesses – Haas Coffee, Haas Design and Haas Advertising – which led to their move to Buitenkant Street.

Comparing the two spaces, co-owner Francois de Villiers says: “What we had in the Bo-Kaap was a more intimate space and we loved it, because it’s how our ad agency works: one-on-one communication and close relationships with our clients. But we needed to find a space where the three businesses could live together.”

Although the building is much bigger and the open-plan layout allows the 14 staff members to communicate freely, they also wanted to recreate those pockets of intimacy. To achieve this, each area has a focal point, something of interest to gather around. At the entrance, French armchairs beg a second look and perhaps a moment to sit and take in the view of bustling Buitenkant Street.

Co-owner Francois Irvine, the interior designer of the team, collaborated with his partners Glynn Venter and Francois de Villiers to extend some of the features from the popular downstairs coffee shop into the upstairs office space.

Look up, and suspended above the wooden beams you’ll see a floating mezzanine level, accessed by a spiral staircase. The exceptional beams were exposed when the old ceiling was removed. “As renovations progressed, more and more hidden gems were uncovered,” says Glynn.

Beyond the dark wooden desks, where teams of copywriters and art directors are stationed, is an eye-catching counter made of dark steel atop a wooden base. Like the rest of the kitchen furniture, it is made of recycled wood stripped from the building during the nine months it took to transform the seriously neglected space into the gracious building it is now.

Walking past the workstations and the kitchen, you’re greeted by one of two boardrooms, partially shielded by a screen yet open enough not to impede the expansive feel of the space. The second boardroom, which is accessed via stairs, features large doors that allow the space to double as additional seating for the coffee shop.

Both Glynn and Francois de Villiers were executive creative directors at a top agency prior to founding Haas Advertising about three years ago. “Having spent most of our careers in massive agencies,” says Glynn, “we saw an opportunity to create a more relaxed working environment that is totally different from the traditional agency. We wanted a space where our clients could feel at home while being a part of the creative process. Beyond doing brand building and creative work for a number of blue-chip clients, we also get to promote and explore the boundaries of our Haas brand.”

Take a peek inside their downstairs space, Haas Coffee, here.