Winner of the Design Management Award 2020
Plydesign 2014–2020 – The triumph of vision and spirit
The European Commission describes the furniture industry as a dynamic sector, as it allows the ideal combination of new technologies, innovation, creative design thinking and cultural heritage. When the EU experts made this statement, they had companies like Plydesign as examples in mind.
One of the founders, Tamás Babits, was ‘born into’ furniture manufacturing, and after returning from his studies in the USA he joined his family’s business, called Licit Ltd, a company with a decade of manufacturing experience as well as a professional team and machinery. He had a clear vision of how to manufacture excellent quality furniture with bigger added value and introduced a fresh approach into his family’s traditional timber factory.
“Product design is not an individual activity,” said András Kertékgyártó, Plydesign’s other founder, in an interview, “but a continuous dialogue, cooperation and a series of feedbacks.”During ideal cooperation the designer and the manufacturer do not limit but inspire each other since they have the same goal: to create a new product. The plywood chair concept he deve-loped during his studies in Finland confirmed that he was open to cooperation. Then Plydesign came into being.
The two founders’ philosophy is a textbook example of “Successful Corporate Strategy”. Moreover, they did not just do the thinking but also did all the work and with consistent efforts they realised their plans.
During the six years of successful operation and as a result of integrating design management into the organisational structure, the originally two-man business has grown into a team of six (CEO, head designer, commercial and sales manager, project manager, PR and marketing manager, graphic designer) confidently and proactively using the tools of digital marketing communication. The company can rely on a solid manufacturing background and a decade of experience, allowing it to be open to innovative ideas, as well as on machinery and excellent experts that guarantee the successful journey of their furniture from the design table to serial production.
At Plydesign everybody knows that it is not enough to be good but it is also important to present a good image. Therefore, their communication strategy is outstanding and perfectly reflects the high standards of the company and its products, while also efficiently supporting sales. As a result, more than 80 percent of their income is generated by exports. That is how a company can enter the markets outside Hungary. Plydesign assigns great importance to knowledge transfer during its operation: it actively supports the education of the next generation and helps young Hungarian designers; moreover, it is committed to participating in roundtable discussions and workshops organised to raise awareness about design.
It can be stated with confidence that Plydesign’s activity will stimulate the growth of the Hungarian furniture industry in the long run and provides an example to follow. While original Hungarian products are few and far between in today’s domestic furniture production sector, Plydesign has proven that only design thinking and high quality furniture production can lead this sector out of the jungle of cheap labour and mass products.
The furniture brand established in 2014 manufactures high quality and innovative products that are competitive on the international markets too. One of its key objectives is to stimulate the domestic furniture industry through the design attitude and business strategy of its founders and contribute to strengthening the sector’s international position. The Plydesign team believes that a designer’s mission goes far beyond producing functional and aesthetic objects. In their view design starts with the study of the complex system of relations and connections between society and the individual, which is why their products meet real and everyday needs and requirements. Their primary focus is chair design but their product range includes coffee and dining tables too. Their pieces meet 21st-century expectations, whether they are designed for home or public use. Their models, typically manufactured using profile compressed plywood technology, are distinguished by their elegance with their curved soft forms inviting to be touched. The carefully finished surfaces, the restrained forms and the warm tone of the wood are combined to provide users with an experience that stands the test of time. Besides comfort it is important for the company to design furniture that can be transported cost-effectively and assembled easily, while sustainability is also a key factor for the brand. They only use FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified timber; moreover, the technology they use is also environmentally friendly since less waste is generated when working with plywood than with block wood. Plydesign furniture is durable and can thus serve several generations.
Cooperation and knowledge transfer are of the essence for the brand. This is exemplified, for example, by Plydesign’s close relations with the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design Budapest, in the framework of which it actively supports the up and coming generation of designers and is committed to participating in round table discussions and workshops aimed at raising awareness about design. In addition to developing and distributing their own collections, Plydesign also provides production organisation, harmonisation and logistical services to foreign companies. This includes locating the optimal suppliers for a foreign partner and coordinating the wide range of processes, while organising the final assembly and the dispatch of the products to the customers of the given partner.
The brand’s slogan "We do care" succinctly expresses Plydesign’s ars poetica: it reflects the caring attention and planning that is present at every level of the business operation from product development and material use through the high quality of the products all the way to the high standard of corporate culture as well as the high quality of business and customer relations.