In case you were wondering, it means ‘Welcome to Sweden’, which is what our wonderful colleagues at Kinnarps said when members of the Paramount team paid them a visit recently.
By partnering with Europe’s largest provider of workspace interior solutions we get to keep up with the latest trends in office design. Every now and then this means a trip to Jonkoping in Sweden to catch up on the latest developments. Here’s what our team got up to, in their own words…
Our trip started at the Signature departure lounge, the private airfield for Cardiff Airport, to take off in Kinnarps’ private jet!
Having arrived safely in Sweden, our first destination was a manufacturing plant at Skillingaryd where the upholstering of Kinnarps’ furniture takes place. The tour of the factory proved that we Brits could learn a great deal when it comes to organisation. Their newly installed overhead track system felt like something out of Willy Wonka, moving fabrics from the cutting machines to the machinists with pinpoint accuracy. It was hugely impressive to watch in action.
The attention to staff welfare was very apparent too, including aerobics before the working day starts, an impressive canteen with an amazing selection of food, not to mention a spa and leisure centre!
As designers, the Kinnarps Materia showroom had us buzzing like bees around honey. It’s evident as soon as you walk into the showroom that design and the environment are important here. In a glazed building surrounded by pine trees and vast open space, this inspirational furniture gets the backdrop it truly deserves.
The use of colour and products in the ground floor office design were most impressive, staff here get to choose between a stool and a task chair to sit on, depending on which they feel best suits the way they want to work. Seeing the products in front of us made us want to use more of them in future projects.
It had been a long day, so our next stop was the hotel for a quick freshen up before heading out to watch some Ice Hockey with 7,000 cheering Husqvarna fans in the Kinnarps arena! The home team lost, but it certainly didn’t dampen the atmosphere. After a quick night-cap we headed off to bed, ready for the next day’s trip to Kinnarps’ HQ and main manufacturing plant.
After a wonderful night’s sleep, and a tasty breakfast to start us off, we headed to the original home of Kinnarps modern office furniture. It’s clear that they care about their impact on the surrounding area by providing waste briquettes to heat the factories and nearby houses. We visited the museum, the test labs and then toured the enormous production factory, trying to avoid the 40 or so robots that moved around the factory floor delivering parts and materials to the workers.
It would surprise us if this factory wasn’t visible from space, it’s huge!
We also had the opportunity to experience Kinnarps’ design concept “the Next Office Space”. Test driving the products and seeing the full range ‘in the flesh’ in various fabrics and finishes certainly brought the pieces to life and gave us a lot of inspiration for future projects.
After our whistle-stop tour we were looking forward to relaxing, so it was off to the VIP restaurant in Kinnarps for a traditional Swedish lunch, before flying back home on ‘that jet’ again. A couple of us were even given the chance to sit in the co-pilot’s seat at 42,000ft, thank goodness none of us pressed that big red button by accident!
Tack så mycket (thank you so much) to everyone at Kinnarps and Materia for their hospitality and, of course, the loan of their plane and lovely pilots!!
Contributions by Ceri Bowden, Rachel Rees and Gareth Davies, from the Paramount Design team.