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Andreu World: Empowering change through inclusive workplace design

At Clerkenwell Design Week 2023, Andreu World discussed creating inclusive workplaces by focusing on well-being, equity, and the new dynamics of office environments.

by Pooja Suresh HollannavarPublished on : Jun 08, 2023

Andreu World, a name synonymous with excellence in design and craftsmanship, has made its mark on the world of contemporary furniture design. With a history dating back to 1955, this Spain-based company has continually pushed the boundaries of innovation, creating timeless pieces that blend functionality, aesthetics, and sustainability. Founded by Francisco Andreu Marti, Andreu World began as a small carpentry workshop in Valencia, Spain. Over the years, the company evolved and expanded its offerings, drawing inspiration from diverse cultures and collaborating with renowned designers from around the globe, but remains a family-owned business at its core. Its commitment to collaboration and cross-pollination of ideas has resulted in a portfolio that marries traditional craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology.

The timeless furniture design of Andreu World | Andreu World | Clerkenwell Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
The timeless furniture design of Andreu World Image: Gabi Torres

Characterised by their sleek lines, ergonomic designs, and meticulous attention to detail, Andreu World's furniture collections are often easy to spot. Each piece exudes a sense of refinement and sophistication, whether it's a luxurious lounge chair, a versatile dining table, or an elegant barstool. Moreover, sustainability lies at the core of Andreu World's ethos, as the company embraces eco-friendly practices and materials throughout its production process. The legacy of Andreu World, however, goes beyond its design achievements. The company has been vocal about the importance of well-being in the workplace and has worked to include discourse about mental health, diversity, and equality, in and out of its designs. Andreu Worlds' latest collaboration with Clerkenwell Design Week exemplifies this attitude.

  • The London store of Andreu World | Andreu World | Clerkenwell Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
    Examples of timeless design from Andreu World Image: Gabi Torres
  • The London store of Andreu World | Andreu World | Clerkenwell Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
    Examples of timeless design from Andreu World Image: Gabi Torres

Clerkenwell in London is a captivating and prominent design hub, home to design studios, architectural firms, and trendy eateries. Clerkenwell Design Week, held annually for the past 14 years, is a three-day celebration of design, creativity, and innovation. The event brings together designers, architects, and artists from around the world to explore the latest trends in the industry. It features exhibitions, installations, talks, workshops, and product launches, providing a platform for both established and emerging designers. The festival fosters community and collaboration while sparking discussions about the future of design.

The London store of Andreu World | Andreu World | Clerkenwell Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
The London store of Andreu World Image: Gabi Torres

With the programme philosophy of the Clerkenwell Design Week and the ongoing intent of Andreu World, their collaboration seemed well in sync. This year, at the Clerkenwell Design Week 2023, Andreu World hosted two-panel discussions at its London showroom. The first, a discussion hosted in collaboration with Works Magazine, focussed on ‘Designing Wellbeing at Work’ brought together industry experts to explore the relationship between workplace design and employee wellbeing. Mick Jordan, Editor of Works Magazine, led introductions of the panel which included Beatriz Gonzalez, Head of Workplace Interiors at Scott Brownrigg; Christopher Crawford, Studio Director for Gensler; Alice Aldous, Associate of Interior Design at Squire & Partners; and Alejandro Pardo, North Europe Area Manager for Andreu World. The discussion focused on the integration of elements like ergonomic furniture, natural lighting, and collaborative spaces to create healthier and more productive work environments.

  • The panel discussion on ‘Designing Wellbeing at Work’ | Andreu World | Clerkenwell Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
    The panel discussion on ‘Designing Wellbeing at Work’ Image: Gabi Torres
  • A captivated audience at the ‘Designing Wellbeing at Work’ panel discussion | Andreu World | Clerkenwell Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
    A captivated audience at the ‘Designing Wellbeing at Work’ panel discussion Image: Gabi Torres

Christopher Crawford outlined the importance of having a human-centric design and said, “We see it as our responsibility to educate clients on the importance of wellbeing and the ways in which a workspace can manifest that.” The panellists further emphasised the importance of considering mental health, physical comfort, and a sense of community in design decisions. Elaborating on the reasons why the younger generation is choosing offices over remote working, Beatriz Gonzalez said, “It’s all about people, experience, and collaboration.” The group discussed how the fabric of workspaces has changed post-pandemic and why offices now more than ever require spaces that cater to these needs of community, collaboration and learning.

The second discussion, ‘Neurodiversity at Work’—a collaborative effort between Andreu World and WOD (Women in Office Design)—was introduced by founder and workplace designer, Harsha Kotak. The panel included Jackie Ferguson, Senior Associate and Diversity, Engagement & Inclusion Champion at Perkins & Will; Julie Lecoq, Associate, at Unispace; the author of the much-acclaimed book, The human-centric workplace, Simone Fenton-Jarvis; and Julia Hardy from Andreu World. The industry experts talked about creating a diverse and inclusive workplace along with the importance of factors like well-being, equity, equality, and the evolving dynamics of office environments. Topics included demystifying disabilities, introducing the inclusive design in the early project phase, and the significance of culture and colour in the workplace.

Speaking of inclusivity, Julie Lecoq said, “Inclusive design must not be an afterthought. It must be introduced in the early phase of the project. We need to give people the autonomy to choose how they want to work.” The panel emphasised the need for education, understanding, and embracing differences to foster a more inclusive work environment. The event was a step towards inspiring and empowering women in the office design industry globally.

  • The ‘Neurodiversity at Work’ panel discussion | Andreu World | Clerkenwell Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
    The ‘Neurodiversity at Work’ panel discussion Image: Gabi Torres
  • A light moment at the ‘Neurodiversity at Work’ panel discussion | Andreu World | Clerkenwell Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
    A light moment at the ‘Neurodiversity at Work’ panel discussion Image: Gabi Torres

Andreu World CEO Jesus Llinares, in a conversation with Samta Nadeem, Curatorial Director, STIR, spoke about the brand, its relationship with the design festival, and the larger discourse surrounding design and sustainability.

Speaking about the values and principles that have encapsulated the brand in the 22 years that Llinares has been with it, he shared, “Twenty-two years ago when I started at the company, we put in writing the principles and values in a document which was the first document approved by a board of directors that we established in 2001. We always take these principles into account to continue building the culture that adapts to the times we are living, but without losing this connection with the identity and the roots of the DNA of the company.” He continued, elaborating on how the brand uses sustainability for not just the end product, but the entire process, “We want to be remarkable in innovation, in design, and obviously sustainability is part of our principles and values. Because of that, in 2005, when an American company asked for a product made in FSC, 100 per cent reforested wood, we started analysing and studying this possibility. Since I don't like fake marketing or greenwashing, we decided to study not only one product but the whole production. Thanks to the forests in which our mill in Eastern Europe operates, we have been working with various forests for over 30 years. We realised that one of these forests had been harvested since the 19th century, making it 150 to 160 years old. We consider ourselves fortunate because we have been able to maintain responsible wood extraction practices and engage in annual reforestation efforts.”

Andreu World was one of the pioneers in making sustainable design and delivery a reality. They have been able to do so because of the control they have over the entire production cycle; from procurement of material from forests to the deliveries across the world. The company has since moved further and created a carbon-neutral practice where more than 50 per cent of their energy comes from solar sources and the remainder is certified as clean energy. They also aim at becoming zero waste in the very near future.

Engaging discussions at the Andreu World showroom | Andreu World | Clerkenwell Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
Engaging discussions at the Andreu World showroom Image: Gabi Torres

Speaking about the motivations behind their sustainability efforts, Llinares said, “In the last three to four years, we have been accelerating our actions and our attitude, trying to assume a leadership role in this field because we feel that the world needs a change. Our world needs a change, and we need to do things in a different manner.”

“In sustainability, you must share. We are sharing everything, and we are becoming part of associations and groups. We are open source in everything that we do from the sustainability point of view. Even in materials and technologies, we allow our suppliers to communicate and spread these advances,” he went on, explaining how important sharing is, to create a truly sustainable society.

Speaking about sustainability at the Clerkenwell Design Week, he mentioned, “This is an event that is sustainable in the point of view that it’s taking advantage of the infrastructure that exists, i.e., the showrooms. Then the showrooms generate content, sometimes the content of roundtables or speeches or conferences or parties, or just showing new designs and innovations. This is for me the future of sharing innovation in this industry. We will see a little bit less of the traditional fairs because the traditional fair is something temporary and is wasted after seven days.”

Sustainable and timeless pieces by Andreu World | Andreu World | Clerkenwell Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
Sustainable and timeless pieces by Andreu World Image: Gabi Torres

"Our way of contribution is not only showing the new designs from Patricia Urquiola and Philippe Starck but sharing some of our thoughts and analysis in the work environment because the work environment has changed a lot in the last few years. Pandemic accelerated the changes. It's true that there is a big, huge modification of how the work environment is going to be built and how they will try to attract the people working from home," he continued as he spoke about Andreu World’s involvement with the Clerkenwell Design Week.

Llinares spoke very passionately about the importance of having these discussions across the globe. He outlined similar initiatives by Andreu World in America, Spain, and India as he stressed the importance of extending knowledge about sustainability and science across the world. When asked about the brand's immediate goals in the coming year, he ended on a decisively hopeful note by briefly describing the aim of continued trailblazing in the field of design.

Andreu World's journey from a small workshop to a global design leader showcases the brand’s unwavering commitment to excellence and sustainability. As they continue to innovate, Andreu World inspires change and leaves a lasting impact on the world of design.

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