One on one

One-on-one with Dylan Joseph of Semper Fortis

Written by Shereen Lurie

Dylan Joseph is one of the original founders of Semper Fortis. He has been involved in the furniture industry for over 20 years and leads the inspiring team making up the company.

What is Semper Fortis?

Semper Fortis means “always brave” in Latin and it’s this sentiment that underpins all we do at the brand, from designing fine furniture that is at once classic and modern to handmaking all our pieces in our Cape Town factory. It’s a term we’ve always used in our family.

Add to this our level of service and our consistent commitment to our customers. All Semper Fortis furniture has a lifetime guarantee, and no matter how long you’ve been living with one of our pieces, when it comes time for change, we will gladly reupholster free of charge.

What makes Semper Fortis furniture unique?

When we are creating an item for our collections or ranges, we understand that it will become a part of people’s homes, lives and memories. Our furniture is more than just a physical item; it is also about filling your home with the Semper Fortis feeling: being brave and remembering to be so each and every day.

Tell us more about the latest Semper Fortis range?

Semper Fortis has incorporated autumn-winter colour trends into its latest range and newest shape – the Tripoli couch. With a focus on natural, sustainable and warm design, tobacco and pepper are the design company’s variations on coca mocha and Sudan brown – hues identified by colour institute Pantone as evincing of our need for comfort, clarity and security, satisfying an urge for familiarity.

While designing our winter range, we wanted to create a feeling of warmth, comfort and space. During COVID we were all forced to slow down and spend time in our homes, thus driving a desire to create a space that reflects a visual reference to the warm energy of tranquillity of this new piece.

Dylan Joseph

How did the #WeDesignSA initiative came about (as well as the concept for the famous #WeDesignSA banner)?

The #WeDesignSA initiative came about by the desire to inspire. Cara Saven, the wallpaper designer, and I were part of the team that unveiled the “We Love SA” banner on Table Mountain during the KwaZulu-Natal riots in 2021.

Through this experience we realised how powerful creative entrepreneurs can be – and we wanted to tap into this to create something unique, original, positive and representative of all the good in South Africa.

So we joined with Cara Saven Wall Design and Tshepo Jeans to present an installation that showed how even through the toughest times, our creative community will come together to make something that shows the spirit of an optimistic, hopeful and resilient South Africa.

We launched this at Design Joburg 2021 followed by a small exhibition at our Cape Town showroom in Bo Kaap.

How does the UP&UP upholstery service work?

The UP&UP service is for all our clients who have purchased Semper Fortis furniture and want to reupholster in a new fabric: either for a house move, house shake-up, or just a change. We’ll do this for free (we only charge for the cost of the fabric). This feeds into our lifetime guarantee policy: we understand furniture is a costly and lifetime investment, and want to make sure that we provide the best range of services to our Semper Fortis family.

How would you describe good design?

I would describe good design as something that makes you feel something. An item in your home should invoke emotions of happiness and contentment and ultimately be a staple in your stack of memories for a lifetime. In that sense I believe that good design is something that makes you feel absolute warmth and comfort.

How do you ensure that the production of Semper Fortis furniture is sustainable/ecologically sound?

Our brand focuses on being conscious in all ways – which is something we ensure we do throughout the production process through our methods and sourcing. In addition, we have launched a lifetime guarantee on the frames and springs on our products, as well as various other guarantees covering other facets of your Semper Fortis piece, to ensure you get the most out of the investment you have made for your home.



Shereen Lurie

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