What was the inspiration behind the formation of DEDON?
Twenty-five years ago, we never could’ve guessed our company would become the world’s premier outdoor furniture brand, with products setting and continually raising the standard for quality, design and desirability. In fact, the way it started was not really clear. We had no idea what we were going to sell, we just wanted to work with family and friends and create beautiful things together. After some ventures in hand painted skies and giraffes from Madagascar, it was the fibre (created by my uncle Seppi, an expert in plastics extrusion) that held any real promise. Supple, attractive and weatherproof, it was perfect for outdoor furniture, at least so I thought. After meeting a skilled weaver at a trade fair in Cologne, Dedon became an outdoor furniture company.
Tell us about the thinking process that is involved behind the creations at dedon?
The design process at Dedon falls in the great tradition of innovative manufacturers working closely with carefully chosen designers over long periods of time, sharing unique expertise and helping our designers to exploit the company’s full potential. The key is that we are able to share our expertise and we focus on our relationship with the designers.
Designers working with Dedon are involved in every step of the way, making frequent visits not only to our fibre production centre in Luneburg, Germany but also to our production facilities in Cebu, the Philippines. At Dedon we choose our designers for their commitment and ability to come to a process of much love, care, and commitment which, ultimately leads to a product that surprises, delights and innovates. The result of so much care and commitment is products, which surprise, delight, innovate, setting new standards of quality and desirability while expanding the possibilities for outdoor living. This makes our design process a continuously crucial aspect of our business. This is why, Hervé as CEO and also my sister Sonja as Creative Director all nurture a unique relationship with each designer and are very hands-on together with the team all throughout the design and product development processes. We want to ensure that the story and the values of the brands are recognised through each product we make.
Can you tell us about the material you use for production and how it is selected?
Dedon fibre is blessed with an exceptional range of properties; weatherproof, durable and environmentally friendly. It is inviting to touch and there is enough supply to be woven into our artful patterns by the world’s most skilled weavers, it has opened new possibilities for our outdoor furniture – in collaboration with the world’s most renowned furniture designers.
Like all other phases in the creation of our furniture, Dedon Fibre is produced entirely in-house. As you read this, the six fully-automated, numerically-controlled extrusion machines at our state-of-the-art fibre production facility in Lüneburg are churning out an average of 180kg an hour of this precious material. That’s 1,600 metric tons per year, or almost 120,000km of fibre, enough to wrap six times around the earth’s diameter. And all of it is destined for the highest-quality, best-designed, longest-lasting outdoor furniture in the world.
Can you tell us the journey of your company?
When we realised, in the year 2000 that we were unable to attain from suppliers in Thailand and China the level of quality we demanded, we decided to create a factory of Dedon’s very own. We chose Cebu island in the Philippines, home to the greatest weavers in the world. It was a big risk for us and a massive undertaking, but at last we could control the quality of our products every step of the way, from fibre to frame to weaving to packaging and logistics.
“As you read this, the six fully-automated, numerically-controlled extrusion machines at our state-of-the-art fiber production facility in Lüneburg are churning out an average of 180 kilograms an hour of this precious material”
Just after starting with our factory in the Philippines, Dedon was growing at a rate of 80 percent a year. Our renovated office in Germany could no longer contain all the products coming in, and before long even our new headquarters and showroom—a gorgeous 19th Century horse stable in Lüneburg’s city center—was starting to feel cramped. Over in the Philippines, meanwhile,
we had to open a bigger factory just to keep up with the orders rushing in. A small family company we were now going global.
In Barcelona, we set up Dedon’s first international sales office, a major step forward for us. By 2003—the same year we launched our Orbit collection to international acclaim—Dedon was represented in 30 countries worldwide.
“We have many ideas for Sri Lanka, which we all love and we see a great potential in telling our stories and bringing our high quality products to the market.”
By 2004, we were growing so fast that it was time to move again. Our new headquarters, a 7,500-square-metre facility on 46,000 square metres of land, offered a unique opportunity to bring Dedon’s founding values to life on an even larger scale. From fitness training to gourmet Italian lunches, employees enjoyed benefits unheard of in most companies. The media response was overwhelming.
Over in the Philippines, meanwhile, our team had expanded to more than 1,800. Here too, it was time to move to an even larger facility. Hervé and I saw an opportunity not just to hype our values but to put them into practice. Our Philippine team was responsible for creating the most beautifully hand-crafted outdoor furniture in the world. It was critical that our new factory be a model for the country and the world.
By 2005, Dedon was becoming a household name. This was due in no small part to our growing roster of renowned designers.
In the last decade alone, we’ve gone from a team of three to a team of 3,000. Our exclusive outdoor furniture, unrivaled in quality and design, is now sold in more than 80 countries worldwide, and there are so many exciting new projects in the works – from a very special Dedon lifestyle world, amazing Dedon installations and activities.
You have always been open to new ideas, while maintaining a balance between nature and work, can you elaborate on this?
From the moment Dedon was founded twenty-five years ago, our dream has been to share memorable outdoor moments with family and friends. We are driven by a desire to return to the things that truly matter in life – inspirational encounters, true friendships, real joie de vivre, genuine affection for each other, unique experiences – and to create a little corner of paradise for every one of us.
Many of your products are suitable for tropical climates, will Dedon come to Sri Lanka?
We have many ideas for Sri Lanka, which we all love and we see a great potential in telling our stories and bringing our high quality products to the market. You will hear from us very soon, so stay tuned.
Rayn — Lounging to the next level
Designer: Philippe Starck Models: lounge chair, incl. right armrest lounge chair, incl. left armrest Right module | Left module Right module, incl. right armrest Left module, incl. left armrest Center module | Corner module 3-seater, incl. left armrest 3-seater, incl. right armrest 3-seater, incl. left + right armrest Daybed, incl. right armrest Daybed, incl. left armrest Footstool Coffee table Beach chair, adjustable, incl. wheels Colors: salina Textile: calico textile
Can you describe the collections and what they entail?
We want to amaze and inspire our customers in everything we do. We want to keep on creating unique and innovative designs and ideas for them, products that surprise, delight and innovate and that set new standards of quality and desirability – while always keeping social responsibility and care for the environment in mind.
As an entrepreneur who found his niche and excelled in it, what advice do you have for those who wish to become an entrepreneur?
The early days were not easy but the values we brought to the task, determination, perseverance, self-reliance, flexibility, insistence on having a great time with family and friends, and openness to new people and new ideas, which I think looking back were crucial. Our strong vision and company values translate into our design and the way we do business and have helped us in gaining momentum and expanding on that.
What can we expect from DEDON in the near future?
Dedon is continuing to evolve, expand and innovate—and not only in the furniture sector. We’ve branched out into the luxury hospitality industry with Dedon Island located in the Philippines, and we have many adventures ahead. Dedon is constantly exploring new ideas and coming up with new ways to realise a notion of “barefoot luxury.” You can expect us to both surprise you with new projects, but also to maintain our history of producing quality and well-designed products that enrich our lives.
We are very proud of what we have accomplished since the formation of Dedon, but we are even more proud of how we accomplished it: with family and friends, with respect and love and trust, always celebrating life. That, to us is the real Dedon story and in the forthcoming years we will continue to build on that legacy.