With new collaborations follows…expectations!
As part of this month’s theme: Scalability and modular thinking, DANISH™ asked three Danish brands what their expectations are when working in collaborations with designers. Onecollection, Aviendo Fairy Tales and Mater highlight elements such as bringing new energy as well as brand understanding as key to a successful collaboration.
Whether you are pretty straightforward and say everything out loud or are a more go-with-the-flow kind of company, both types have some expectations as to what a collaboration with a designer should involve. At Danish company Aviendo Fairy Tales, CEO and Founder Anders Nielsen is keen that all the terms and expectations are agreed beforehand between both parties in order to ensure that everyone is on the same page and remains that way throughout the project. From his side, there´s no doubt in his mind about what he hopes a designer can help bring to the table:
“My expectations are clear, in that a collaboration with a designer should help us create a new Nordic design that is functional, stylish, fun and elegant. But that´s not all: it should be combinable with a relevant fairy tale and have the potential to become a design classic. And then of course – and this is a very important detail – It has to be able to be produced!”
He has worked with several young and new designers and one thing often surprises him:
“I remember the first time working with young Danish designers. It was an impressive experience to witness not only their wealth of ideas, but also at the same time their ability to be open towards other opinions and willingness to put great effort into teamwork and to understanding the business behind the project.”
You cannot tell a book by its cover
At the Danish furniture company Onecollection they are into making things happen and they consider themselves to be pretty straightforward when stating their terms. This is how CEO and Co-Founder Henrik Sørensen describes their position:
“We are very aware that agreeing the project requirements and wishes involves a two-way street and we believe in the need to be able to tolerate some degree of resistance – or to face some challenges, if you will. Looking at our main collaborators, Thomas Sigsgaard and Kasper Salto (Council Chair, ed.), whom we work with a lot, we know that the two of them are very strong together – but we also know that they may not always agree on everything with us. But when we are faced with challenges or disagreements, it encourages us to find solutions together in collaboration, and we really feel this ultimately lifts our products from being normal to becoming much higher quality”.
Currently, the two owners and co-founders of Onecollection, Henrik Sørensen and Ivan Hansen, are looking into creating new projects. They recently created the brand House of Finn Juhl and already have a lot of activities ongoing with architects and designers, but they are both a bit intrigued about what a co-op with a new, and maybe young, designer would bring to them and any collaboration project and how this would harmonize with the Onecollection brand. One thing though they know for certain is:
“At no point are we looking for something that´s just based on the latest trends, but at the same time, we are keen that a new collaborative partner should be able to bring something entirely new to our business,” Henrik Sørensen states.
What he also knows is that when on the look-out for new collaborators, there is a big difference between first impressions and chemistry:
“For 25 years now, we have been working with an architect, who, when we had our first meetings together, seemed to have no shared flow or common energy with us and we were ready to reject working with him. But he did not give up and he persevered and eventually he won us over. We knew that he would be the type of person who would always give us his all and do an honest piece of work for us. This earned our respect. When we decided to give him a chance, he created a unique chair for us, which is now on the market and very successful. We have been dependent upon each other ever since. This also shows one of our core expectations in working with others: It´s a two-way street”.
Hidden learnings in creative partnerships
When visiting the Mater Earth Gallery that showcases the range of Mater’s products, you also get to see first-hand the results of the many partnerships between the company and designers.
Mater’s experience in these collaborations has caused its CEO and founder, Henrik Marstrand, to divide the essence of expectations into three: “First there’s the creative match; secondly, that the product will matter in a sustainable agenda, and that should motivate both of us. After that, it’s all about the commercial expectations. Here we look into the connection between market and pricing. It’s mostly here that things can go off in the wrong direction, because too high a price in relation to the original intention can cause us to quit the project.”
He explains how it also might happen that suppliers are not able to make a certain product in a sustainable way, as Mater and the designer desire. In short, the manufacturers – and their ability to produce in a sustainable way, at a price that still enables the product to become a commercial success – are just as important as the partnership with the designer. Mr Marstrand says, “If we do not take this into consideration, we will spend too much time on product development in comparison to the profit we need to achieve, to stay relevant in the market and keep the company healthy financially.”
He is well aware that prices, costs, and time spent on product development are important parts of making an agreement. What can be tougher to define are the “softer” terms, such as: when is the result satisfying?
“Some products have an enormous value in relation to PR but less commercial value, and we have to acknowledge that sometimes it’s hard to achieve both. A designer can have high expectations about how fast a product can be launched after we agree on a partnership, not knowing how many other products we are developing at the same time. This part can be something of a balancing act, to communicate and adjust.”
Despite these bumps in the road, Henrik Marstrand would never give up on creative partnerships because there is a lot of knowledge hidden there, and new possibilities.
“We still gain from the first time we seriously entered the field of lighting, when we added the first part of our LED collection to our assortment that combines LED and wood. We learned a lot, but also it led to a huge number of possibilities afterwards.”
This article is the 2nd of 4 articles focusing on how to scale your business through collaborations between designers and brands. The first article is about how designers and brands can endorse oneanother by collaborating. – While the 3rd one is centered around the human relations in a collaboration.