This past autumn the team at Inform Contract had the opportunity to travel to Spain for an in-depth look at the design and manufacturing processes of the innovative Spanish brands that are represented in the Contract Showroom in Vancouver. Here is a peek at their educational, inspiring and, of course, fun trip… it is Spain after all!
Pulling up to the forested grounds of Santa & Cole, the group was met by ‘Nina and Nina’, to see the inner workings of their carefully edited furniture and lighting collections. Nina Maso co-founded the company in 1985 during the creative revolution that occurred in the years following the end of the Franco era. Her daughter, Nina Ordeig, is the current head of marketing. Together they toured the grounds as they discussed the history of the 33 year old family-run business, gained insight into the design process for both custom contract and standard products, and learned about their thoughtful approach to running their business.
Based just north of Barcelona in La Rosa, the company’s headquarters are housed within an old private school set amidst a 130 hectare estate called Parc de Belloch. The company acquired this park in 2003 which led them to launch a tree nursery and forestry division whose aim is to “ boost the environmental quality of our cities, tom revitalize the land in Belloch and to teach design with nature in mind.”
The next stop was a tour at Bover a company who offers a wide range of lighting but is particularly known for their large-scale pieces that are ideally suited for contract projects. Here the team had a personal tour with founder Joana Bover who introduced them to the well-seasoned experts trained specifically to hand-wrap the ribbon for the Ribbon collection — most impressive! They also had the added bonus of learning more about their outdoor light fixtures which like their indoor collection is entirely produced in Barcelona.
The team’s next visit was Vibia , a company whose mission is “to improve the relationships between people and their surroundings, their visual and emotional well being.” Marco Maragoni, an expert on Vibia lighting manufacturing — and speaker of 6 languages! — guided the group on a walk through the full lighting assembly process including the remarkable high-end testing processes for each of the thousands of parts that help make their lights. Quality control at it’s finest.
Next stop: the beautiful factory facilities of the 35 year old company Kettal — clean, green, and open concept. The facility is the most spacious, naturally lit factory that the team encountered; the factory floor looks like a showroom. Their host Carlos Alfaro walked the group through the assembly line where all of the factory workers rotate from upholstery to painting to metalwork; the result is one where every worker is an expert on how Kettal products are made. The team also had the opportunity to visit the Kettal Barcelona flagship showroom designed by Patricia Urquiola and had a peek inside their private art collection room.
The Inform group next headed to Bilbao to meet with Arturo de Antonana from the Ofita team. The factory tour included a look at Ofita’s innovative customized desk solutions for the workplace and their wide-ranging capabilities for metal work — sheet metal folding, CNC machines, and even their robotic welder named Esther… she was lovely.
The trip concluded with a stop at family-run Andreu World where the group met with Jesus the Third — third because there are two other Jesus’ that work there. Here they toured the chair and table factories, and the beautiful and inspiring head office showroom. The visit highlighted the company’s decades of wood joinery expertise that goes into all of their chair designs, ensuring strong products for heavy commercial use.
Delicious bonus: they group then enjoyed the best paella in Spain!
A big ¡GRACIAS! to all the gracious and thoughtful hosts that made this a valuable and
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