HONG KONG, CHINA - November 29, 2013 - Haworth Managing Director of Greater China and North Asia, Matthew Tedesco tells us how the company is bringing together workplace knowledge and combining it with its global capabilities to create high-performance environments for organisations in this region and around the world.
As a designer and manufacturer of office furniture, what is Haworth’s point of difference?
Haworth recognises that the global landscape is changing so quickly that no one company has all of the answers. Because of our unique open platform approach coupled with our global footprint, we are able to support our clients in aligning their space to their business goals. We do this by facilitating and delivering the most relevant research, products and services that meet their needs across the total floor plate whilst helping them adapt these spaces organically over time.
Tell us about the Haworth xFriends programme.
Haworth xFriends represents a unique platform that brings together the best in product design and innovation through an open network of designers, innovators and community activators. By working with some of the most talented emerging companies and designers from across the globe, we are able to offer our clients tailored furniture solutions, workspace research, and a symphony of support-services to meet their ever-changing needs. In terms of selecting partners, we look for unique products and designs that have a ‘story’ and are scalable and applicable at a global level – ideas that can support the future of work and collaboration. We believe the best ideas come from sharing across a broad spectrum of disciplines and expertise and that the emerging markets are in a unique position to leverage our global platform to bring these new concepts to the world. In the years to come, we look to grow the xFriends community with partners whose products and ideas prove that collaboration creates the best workplace experience.
Are there any new collaborations that you can share with us?
We are getting ready to launch a collaboration with our newest xFriends partner, Dutch designer Edward van Vliet. His award-winning designs have been implemented across a variety of mediums, and we are excited to work with him, together with Woven Image, on an exclusive range of fabrics that will be launching this quarter.
Are there any partnerships specific to the Hong Kong/China market?
We are very excited about the designers that have approached Haworth with innovations that we are looking forward to bringing them not only to China but offering their work as part of our xFriends platform. We also recently held a design competition in Shanghai where we collaborated with a highly talented group of young product designers.
What is one important global workplace trend, and how is this translating into the products you put out?
What was once a predictable, longer term planning horizon for global business is now much more near term given the flat world and economic volatility, making it more difficult to know how big or small organisations will be when evaluating their current offices and planning for growth around the world. The good news for the corporate real estate executive is that the shift to new mobile technologies is enabling the workforce to move from a dedicated workspace to internal mobility, and even to full external mobility. As a result, the workspace has shifted and moved away from the idea of being ‘handcuffed’ to a desk to having the complete freedom of working in any space. This has resulted in a complete revolution around how spaces can now be designed and furnished to support a more nomadic worker.
Haworth has identified this trend as ‘Organic Spaces’, which can be defined, measured and re-defined so that clients are able to align and adapt their total floor plate in ‘real time’ to their needs and to the reality of how their members actually operate. This approach helps clients ‘future proof’ their space, a philosophy embedded in our product solutions, including our recently introduced Infinity system, designed to easily adapt to different applications across the floor plate as client’s business needs change.
Are you seeing any emerging trends – be it globally or within the Hong Kong/China market?
Clients in China are no longer building ‘temporary’ or transitory offices, but rather are investing in branded environments, campuses and standout spaces to serve as their long-term regional or global headquarters. They are recognising that they need spaces that are going to attract and retain the best talent as well as ensure that this talent collaborates in defining innovative products and services in an increasingly competitive market and world. As part of this need to build their physical brand identity, they need to invest in top quality furniture solutions that will meet their needs over the long term and still reflect their company culture and the way they work.
Which have been some of your most successful products globally, and in the Hong Kong/China market?
Haworth has a long history around the world and was the first multinational company to establish a manufacturing facility in 1996 in Shanghai. This commitment resulted in a very large installed base of clients who are able to still enjoy our high quality workstations and chairs because we are able to reconfigure, refresh and adapt these over time as part of our Harmony Services programme. This is true sustainability: making good things last longer.
In terms of products, we have a global approach to product design and development but with the opportunity to also design products from any of our locations around the world for the world. This includes our Infinity system, which is now a global platform for Haworth, designed by our Asia Pacific team. We are seeing a growing interest in this system platform, due to its flexibility and future-proofing design philosophy. In addition, we have seen a piqued interest in collaborative and hospitality-oriented product solutions offered through our xFriends programme. In seating, our award-winning Zody chair has always been successful in the Hong Kong and China markets and is viewed as one of the best chairs around the world.
What can we expect from Haworth in 2014?
Our Organic Spaces strategy is the cornerstone of how we are going to market this year and beyond. We are focused on future proofing the space of our clients, as we understand the power these spaces can offer if the partners involved in creating, evolving and sustaining them are aligned to the business goals of the client. Haworth is uniquely able to do this because of the diversity and capabilities of our team where we can bring to our clients the best ideas and solutions to achieve their desired outcomes. We are invigorated by the opportunity of being in China and the growth opportunities these markets are offering us.
Globally, Haworth improves workplaces with award-winning furniture, interior architecture and technology solutionsto help customers achieve business goals, transform culture as well as support collaboration and innovation. Research + design drive a deep understanding of agile workplace needs and are at the center of the company’s strategy. Haworth is committed to protecting and restoring the environment, creating economic value as well as supporting and strengthening its communities. Founded in 1948, Haworth remains family-owned and privately-held and serves markets in more than 120 countries through a global network of 600 dealers. The company had net sales of US $1.41 billion in 2013.