Haworth xFriends is an exciting approach to collaboration and partnership which aims to make workspace design ‘open source’ and accessible to local markets, while sharing the stories of designers. We had a chat with Haworth’s xFriends Integration Manager, Alex Przybyla, about the project.
“The idea behind Haworth xFriends,” begins Alex Przybyla, Haworth’s xFriends Integration Manager, “is that nobody can create the perfect workspace by themselves. So we look for partners that can do amazing things, with specialties that we don’t necessarily have. We work with them to tell their stories as a community of partners creating better workplaces for our clients.”
As the xFriends Integration Manager for Haworth Asia-Pacific, Alex curates products and works with potential partners to integrate beautiful and functional pieces into the xFriends product portfolio. Since its inception in early 2012, hundreds of designs and dozens of partners from all over the world have been integrated into the Haworth product story. Conceived by Haworth Asia-Pacific’s Vice President as a way to make workplace design ‘Open Source’, the Haworth xFriends project asks for the best ideas from anyone, anywhere. Przybyla explains, “It’s a community of complementary partners. Our friends don’t have to be well-known established designers – they can be anyone.”
Amongst Haworth xFriends’ extensive friends list are UK design titan Orangebox, and Danish flooring trend-setter Ege. Unlike most company partnerships, Haworth xFriends focuses on the localisation of excellent workplace solutions, bringing manufacturing in each region to local makers, and using sustainable materials in construction.
“Often when you see programs like this, the bigger company will purchase the idea, and market it, say, only under the Haworth name, but we want to tell the stories of our partners and have both names on the client’s mind,” continues Przybyla. “As a localisation program, we bring the hero products from our friends’ portfolios to our factories in Shanghai and New Zealand, with huge benefits from a cost and lead time perspective, opening up doors in the region, and maintaining a standard as high as that of Europe and North America.”
“Our choice in partnership is pretty broad. Our base requirements are somebody who is offering a compelling product or service that is meeting a need in the workspace today, and is also willing to work with us exclusively in some fashion.” Przybyla says, “It’s really more of a friendship – it’s not transactional.”
Haworth’s partnership with Orangebox is one of the more prominent friendships the company shares. Borne from a mutual wish to broaden both brand’s presence in the Asia-Pacific region, Orangebox relies on Haworth’s extensive expertise in the region to achieve this. “Orangebox is the leader in collaborative working in the UK, and they’re definitely one of the more established partners in the program, which is cool, because it’s nice to have two pretty big players in terms of workspaces being friends rather than competitors,” continues Przybyla.
As part of the project, Haworth xFriends has also begun to recruit local talent across the Asia-Pacific region to be a part of the design community, with the aim of finding more designers and bringing them into the fold. Przybyla is confident that the future of Haworth xFriends is a bright and inclusive one: “the dream is to be able to bring talented and passionate friends from all over the world to any market, and to be able to both promote local design and broaden access to global design.”