Senior project consultant for Wilkhahn Hong Kong, Grant Humphreys highlights why the business is strongly positioned within the region.
12 September, 2013
Noelle Walker: In three words, summarise Wilkhahn.
Grant Humphreys: Quality, innovative, trend-setting.
NW: How did your relationship with Wilkhahn commence?
GH: At university I studied an Industrial Design Degree (product design) so I have always had a keen interest in design. The opportunity arose in Sydney where I did a trainee ship at Wilkhahn Sydney HQ. After this, I transferred to the Brisbane office, then got offered a senior project consultant role in Hong Kong along with Business Development Manager for India. I now operate the two roles and travel between both regions.
NW: What would you say Wilkhahn delivers to businesses within the Asia Pacific region?
GH: We primarily focus on ‘front of house’ providing highly customised table and seating solutions for boardroom, video conference, flexible meeting and so on. It also specialises in integrating technology in to the various solutions which is extremely important part of the business environment today with increase use of video conference and other technologies.
NW: Your head office is in Germany, what is the most noticeable point of difference in terms of product sales within the greater China region?
GH: The Hong Kong and China market tends to be a little more reserved especially in the use of colour and the over all design. Europe definitely is more creative on that front. Also as a whole the budgets in Europe for a fit out seem to be a lot more so there is definitely room to be creative however in saying that it is definitely changing in Asia with the current economic boom. Also the appreciation for good design has certainly increased.
NW: What is it you do for the business?
GH: As all our products are completely customised there are many aspects that need to be resolved in order for the project to be successful. My role is to act as a project partner and help guide the project smoothly and to ensure the right solution meets the intended brief of the project. This involves a lot of behind the scenes work including the design of each individual table, site markings, samples, logistics, installation and also after sales service. It is very diverse role which is why I love it.
NW: What product you are most passionate about and why?
GH: The new Graph Chair that we launched in 2012 – mainly because it offers a new look and style to the boardroom. Since the Aluminium group by Eames in the 1950’s the design language of a boardroom chair has stayed fairly stagnate. The idea for the Graph Chair was to create a new modern look and steer away from the traditional rigid style of the late 1900’s.
NW: Tell me about a successful Wilkhahn project in Hong Kong?
GH: The project I am most passionate about is the first Graph installation in Asia for DFS late last year designed by Darren Ilosted HBO + EMTB . We installed 33 numbers for the main boardroom. This is a great reference and set the precedent for many other orders. The most successful Wilkhahn project I would say was Deutsche Bank at ICC where we delivered more than 700 chairs and around 200 highly customised tables.
NW: What would you say separates Wilkhahn from other business of a similar nature?
GH: Wilkhahn is still a family owned business. It started in 1907 therefore is more than 100 years old. In comparison to other major players in the furniture world it is relatively small so it definitely has a family feel. Wilkhahn also still manufactures all goods in Germany and in Australia since 1998 so there is still great control over quality. I also find it impressive that Wilkhahn, before sustainability became a marketing concept, more than 60 years ago committed itself to minimise our impact on the environment.
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