‘We focus on sustainability on a number of different levels in our company. It starts with the simple things close to home, such as solar panels on our roof to generate our own electricity, use of geothermal energy, good insulation, and use of LED lighting. We’re critical when it comes to which materials we use. We only use wooden sheet material with no added formaldehyde and water-based glue. Leather residues are repurposed, and the paper we use to print on is FSC certified. We also take our carbon footprint into account and look to use our products to ensure a better world for the next generations. We believe that quality contributes significantly to that goal. A wellmade product, constructed with high-quality and sustainably sourced resources, will last a long time and therefore place the smallest strain on the environment. We recently investigated how far we can go in that aspect. Our Hilco chair is designed locally, with development and production taking place in Venlo and all high-quality material sourced from the surrounding area. This means that we strengthen the local economy and that the resources travel a shorter distance compared with other products. The stand-out feature is the natural full grain leather, which is sourced from Limousin cattle in nature reserves in the region. The hides are tanned locally using a more environmentally friendly method. The person who purchases this chair also receives a code that reveals where the particular animal grazed. Leather is a fantastic material. In a way, our leather chair is a beautiful way of ‘upcycling’, given that it’s made from a residual product: the hides of cattle slaughtered for meat. Instead of the hides being thrown away, they’re used to make a strong and natural material for upholstery. We also offer a number of other materials besides leather, so our customers are really spoilt for choice!’
‘Our customers don’t buy what we sell; instead, we make what the customer wants. We also don’t ask the customer what chair they want but ask what they want to use the chair for. We’re witnessing a new idea of what makes a living room. The room used to be based around the TV, but with the arrival of Wi-Fi, portable devices, and TV on demand, people can now read an e-book or the online paper or watch the news anywhere in the home. We see an increasing number of people working from home and moving homes. Flexibility is becoming the standard, while furniture is becoming more compact and multifunctional. For instance, dining tables are now being used as desks. That’s why we sell a dining chair with extra functions, so that it works perfectly as a desk chair without looking like one. Another example is our Parabolica armchair. It has two sitting positions: one for laying back to relax while watching Netflix and one for sitting upright complete with a place to put your tablet.’
‘The essence of design is to beautify functionality. Above all, design must be practical and contribute to the essence of the product. We think that the form should fit the product, as opposed to design for the sake of design. Our classic Pallone from 1989 is a great example of that belief. The seat and the back of the chair look splendid and are linked. The lines and contours are flawless and flow into one another. Everything is in balance, including the materials used, the height of the chair, and the slant of the legs. There’s not one element that appears wrong. Each aspect is an addition in itself and supplements the other aspects of the chair. Contrary to what you may expect from this design, the chair is also very comfortable to sit on’.
‘For a long time, we’ve worked with a varying group of freelance designers. This ensures our flexibility and challenges us to constantly engage with new ideas. “In-house” designers tend to limit themselves after a while and may unintentionally close off new options. On the other hand, external designers create a design while being mindful of our brands, which often results in special associations or designs that forces us to bend over backwards to create the final product. But when we’ve done so, we end up three steps further than where we started, or we discover new possibilities. What could not be done in the past could be possible today with modern techniques. Additionally, our designers come from a range of countries and backgrounds. This means that they may view life, living, sitting, or materials in a different way, which keeps our brands fresh and diverse. As an example, the designer Gino Carollo views the world through Milanese eyes. He opts for southern luxury, which is more subdued and focused on the design, whereas a designer such as Frans Schrofer creates designs in the Dutch tradition, meaning that they are modest and emphasize the function.’