Building business by taking on new markets through an endorsing collaboration
As part of this month’s theme, DANISH™ created a virtual meeting between three Danish brands used to working with collaborators and thereby scaling their business. Endorsing collaborations between brands and different designers is the first of four subjects within the series on scaling the business. ‘Chemistry’ and ‘the human connection’ would appear to be the right keywords when choosing a collaborative partnership.
Aviendo, CEO and Founder Anders Nielsen
In the small Danish design company Aviendo Fairy Tales, CEO and founder of the company Anders Nielsen chooses not only new fairy tales to increase the collection but also the collaborators who breathe new life into the presentation of the chosen fairy tale and it’s design figure – and he has no doubts about what is important:
‘We look for young talented Danish people with the “right attitude”. Translated, this last bit means that the chemistry has to be right, personally as well as within the team that´s working towards the overall vision and the actual design project. For us it is very important that we all learn to think differently during the design process.’
In many cases, brands and companies that choose to team up are equally strong in their brand perception or public recognition, but when Anders Nielsen is asked what he considers when choosing to cooperate with someone to get the most benefit from the collaboration, he said:
‘We experience our choice is differently: we enjoy working with young talented Danish designers who are promoted through Aviendo Fairy Tales. Their talent and our vision work together as a team. At the same time, we can assist them due to our many years of practical international business and production experience.’
Mater, CEO and Founder Henrik Marstrand
Mater is known for its uncompromising stance on the choice of materials and its work ethic as well as the timeless and classical expression of its collection, which was created by various designers throughout the company’s lifetime. This way of creating a collection and continuously exploring the possibilities of the brand has given CEO and founder of Mater Henrik Marstrand a unique position in knowing what he´s aiming for in a beneficial collaboration:
‘It is very important to us – no matter who we are working with, Danish as well as international designers – that they design with a similar classical and timeless edge as embodied in our DNA. And, of course, that they navigate confidently with our ethical criteria relating to choice of materials, craftsmanship and so on.’
For Henrik Marstrand, there is not that much of a difference on whether the results of the collaboration are offices, restaurants, hotels or other huge contract areas, or in shops, where people can buy and enjoy themselves. But there is a difference in what he will ask a young designer to create for Mater compared to what he would require from a more experienced name:
`For us, it’s not just about the designer supporting our brand. We naturally recognise how established designers bring a lot of experience to the table, and we appreciate that. This is why we use the more experienced ones for “tough products” such as lighting and chairs,’ he said and continued:
`At the same time we believe we are in a position where we can create a difference for young designers by putting their creations into production. We have done so several times. We truly enjoy the opportunity of giving up-coming designers a ticket to meet the world, as they bring so much energy and new perspectives to the table.´
Onecollection, CEO & Co-founder Henrik Sørensen
Henrik Sørensen and his partner Ivan Hansen have been in the furniture business for more than 25 years. Together they founded Onecollection in 1990. Onecollection is also the company behind the newly established brand, House of Finn Juhl.
Onecollection often caters to well-defined project contracts, making them look for a very particular set of abilities in a collaborator:
‘In the contract market, we often work with a very specific set of customer challenges. We need to be able to solve those challenges, period. This means that we sometimes come up with solutions that can also be put to use later, e.g. when the product goes into production and afterwards becomes part of the main collection. The contract market, to Onecollection, has often been about customised solutions and the ability to solve intricate tasks. This has always been a primary objective of ours when selecting who we want to collaborate with.’
Despite the frequency with which Onecollection engages in collaborations, the two owners do not possess a ‘multiple choice’ kind of checklist to evaluate potential suitors. When choosing who to collaborate with, one thing is more important than anything else:
‘Naturally there can be many criteria when choosing partners, but it’s not like we have these written down. Some of the reasons for us to engage in a collaboration are good chemistry, a special talent or a particular task bringing us together. However, chemistry is by far the most important factor for a collaboration to flourish. We have had a lot of fun with the architects and designers we have worked with so far, and we’ve never wanted to work with anyone we didn’t like,’ Henrik Sørensen concluded.
As to the question of who is pulling who when engaging in a collaboration with Onecollection, this is not always black and white:
‘We have helped a lot of designers and collaborators throughout the years. Naturally, the idea is to generate value for both parties. To us, it is a generic process where we have intervened with and interacted a lot. We enjoy the dynamic energy that arises when a producer and designer or architect work together. We are not afraid of believing in young talent. We put our money where our mouth is, and we dare to run the risk of taking a chance.’