Meet the Team at Interstuhl

German-engineered Interstuhl chairs have a long standing history of catering to the needs of the workplace. Since the brand’s first chair, manufactured in 1961, Interstuhl has always focused on its primary aim – developing chairs that provide maximum benefit for their users technically, aesthetically, ergonomically, ecologically and economically.

We met the team, Brian Dowling, Director at Interstuhl, GCC, Bernd Albinger, Sales Director MENA and APAC, and Mila Dee Diel, Sales and Marketing Assistant, Interstuhl GCC, to learn about the company’s past wins plus their future plans for the region and beyond.

The brand’s ‘Secret Sauce’…

Bernd: Interstuhl has always tried to create a synthesis between great design and ergonomics. For every product that we create, we talk to designers for the aesthetics, but we make sure to keep the end user in mind. So the perfected mix between design and ergonomics is what makes Interstuhl special.

Brian: The brand’s success is owed to its people – we are still a family owned and run German company. We are a small firm in size, but big in our character and global reach. We come from a small town of blacksmiths and we grew into a company that is developing game-changing seating solutions around the world.

“Interstuhl has always tried to create a synthesis between great design and ergonomics. For every product that we create, we talk to designers for the aesthetics, but we make sure to keep the end user in mind”

– Bernd Albinger, Sales Director MENA and APAC, Interstuhl

Past Success

Bernd: One of our major success stories last year was working with Abu Dhabi Airport. We supplied about 1,000 seats for cafeteria areas and around 300 coffee tables. It was surely one of the biggest projects we were able to finalise last year. We also launched the PUREis3, and Downtown Design was where the chair was officially unveiled for the market. We were happy to see that it was well received. PUREis3 was released with minimal levers for adjustment and instead are structurally integrated to provide an easy-to-use, ergonomic chair.

Working in the Region

Brian: We have very good partners in the region, so when something does come up, we have their support and vice versa. Despite the Global pandemic, Interstuhl has had a very good year with successful projects in Egypt, Kuwait, UAE and KSA. We launched HUB and already installed a few projects, as well as redesigned our showroom here in JLT, Dubai. Our new HUB range, which debuted at Orgatec, arrived during the lockdown, so we did face some challenges. We also had to put our training and events on hold, however, we are now moving forward with digital and are already planning small gatherings within the right safety measures.

Bernd: It is different working in this market as opposed to Germany, in the sense that this market is more project oriented. The size of these projects as compared to Europe is different. One of the key projects I need to mention was one in Abu Dhabi, when we supplied 20,000 chairs in one batch to Zayed University. Such project sizes are not common in Europe. 

The business model here is also very people oriented. We decided almost four years ago to put our feet on the ground and open a regional office. We are forging those connections and letting people know that Interstuhl is not just a company in Germany, but they are present in the market. 

We have almost all products available in our showroom, so we would not expect our partners to have the full range of products in their showrooms. So each partner has a range to focus on, and we support their activities with mockups and presentations in our showroom, and more such services. In certain projects, we have custom options as well coming in, therefore our presence in the region really comes to use.

Sustainability Aspects of the Brand

Brian: Something that I found really interesting on my first factory tour of Interstuhl was that the brand was using the waste from the local farms nearby to heat the factories, along with solar power panels.

Bernd: During summertime, we can generate more than 50% of our energy needs in the factory using sustainable methods as Brian mentioned. Sustainability for us also means people, those working in Interstuhl and the society at large. The company is located in the South of Germany in a small village, with a population of almost 1,200 people, most of whom are working at Interstuhl. So, there was always this responsible, sustainable path we pursued to grow our brand. We are one of the few companies in the industry that still applies for all the audits of  sustainability guidelines and certifications. We can also provide individual documentation of the pre-past consumer use of recycled parts, and we make sure that the suppliers who give us the raw materials undergo similar certifications.

Future Goals

Brian: We do plan to grow further in the region and work through this office once we continue to improve our footprint in the GCC markets. We are one company with two brands. We are planning to continue to grow the Interstuhl Brand. At the same time we want to further expand our opportunities with Bimos, which are chairs that meet specific specifications, and can be used in clean rooms, laboratories, industrial and manufacturing areas. Given the current situation, we have some new products and accessories that will be launched soon and also our new digital newsletter, with insights and knowledge sharing, will be very interesting.

Right now we have launched HUB. We showed what was coming at Orgatec 2018, however, it was very early and not yet available for order. We started releasing it internationally on March 1, 2020, and we already have our first project in the UAE, with hopes of more opportunities around the Gulf. HUB was planned to further enrich our seating solutions, especially in the open and collaboration areas. Within these areas created, people can meet with distance and still conduct interviews, formal and informal meetings, integrate technology, build ideas together, and more. Don’t forget to check out the HUB Swing! Of course, there will be further developments within HUB to adapt to the market and the situation.

We have also just launched a new product, Shuffle, which is an additional product for the pantry, informal meetings, coffee breaks, and bar height areas. Interstuhl had limited options for these areas in the past, and Shuffle is helping expand here with more solutions.

Mila Dee Diel
Favourite holiday destination: Santorini, Greece
Your top ‘green’ habit: Avoiding plastic bags in grocery stores and bringing my own bag
Favourite sport: Volleyball
Bernd Albinger
Favourite holiday destination: Kornati Islands, Croatia
Your top ‘green’ habit: Milk and eggs direct from a farmer in the neighbourhood
Favourite sport: Football
Your hero: Juergen Klopp (Coach FC Liverpool), and Nelson Mandela
Brian Dowling
Favourite holiday destination: Discovering new places, plus literally anywhere in Europe
Your top ‘green’ habit: I print as little as possible and use my Interstuhl reusable glass bottle for water
Favourite sport: Basketball and tennis
Your hero: My Father

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