Design Management Award winner: Plydesign Kft.

A victory of awareness and spirit

10.1. Design Management Award, Article, Opening event

The Design Management Award was conferred on 1 October to this year’s winner, Plydesign Kft. Our article presents the company’s past, its design-based strategy, as well as ambitions.

The furniture industry is described by the European Commission as a dynamic sector, owing to the fact that it is ideally suited to blend new technologies with innovation, the creativity of designer thinking and cultural heritage. When making this statement, EU experts had in mind companies like Plydesign as examples.

Born into furniture-making, Tamás Babits studied in the United States, and returned home to his family’s business, Licit Kft., which held decades of manufacturing experience, experts and machinery. He consciously prepared for producing furniture of excellent quality with higher added value; he brought a change of approach into the traditional woodworking factory.

“Product design is not a solo genre, anyway”, remarked the other founder of the company, András Kerékgyártó in an interview, “but it involves continuous dialogue and cooperation, a series of feedback.” In ideal cooperation, the designer and the manufacturer inspire rather than restrict each other, given that they have a shared goal: to create a new product. His plywood chair produced during his studies in Finland was proof that there is a man with whom goals are attainable through cooperation. This is how Plydesign came into existence.

The two founders were thinking along the lines of a textbook case described in a chapter entitled “Successful corporate strategy”. Beyond thinking, they also worked and consistently implemented their plans.

During its six years of operation and as a result of its design management thinking integrated into its organisational structure, the business that was launched with two persons in 2014 developed into an agile, open-minded six-strong team (including a managing director, a lead designer, commercial and sales manager, a project manager, a PR and marketing manager, and a graphic designer) that confidently use digital marketing communication and project management tools. Underlying their operation are a secure manufacturing background and decades’ worth of knowledge, to which the company owe their openness to innovations and they hold the necessary machinery and excellent experts who see furniture through all the way from the drafting table to serial production.

They are aware that it is not enough to be good, they need to appear good, too. Their communication is of a world standard, which truly represents the quality of their products and the company. It firmly supports sales: over 80% of their sales revenue comes from exports. Behold, this is how to acquire market outside Hungary. In its activities, Plydesign lays a major emphasis on knowledge transfer: it actively helps academic youth training, supports emerging Hungarian designers, and participates, with full commitment, in roundtable discussions and workshops aimed at growing design awareness.

We can state that their activity stimulates an upsurge in Hungary’s furniture industry in the long term and serves as an example to follow. With so few own products in the Hungarian furniture industry today, Plydesign is living proof that design thinking and high quality furniture production offer a way out of the labyrinth of contract work and cheap mass-produced items.

Background information

Founded in 2014, the furniture brand offers high quality innovative products that are competitive also on the international scene. Besides, it expressly aims at motivating an upsurge in Hungarian furniture industry through the designer attitude and business approach relayed by the founders, and at contributing to the strengthening of its international position. In the Plydesign team’s opinion, designers’ tasks go beyond just producing functional and beautiful objects of use. For them, design begins with an exploration of the intricate connections and relationships between society and the individual, and their products reflect real demands and everyday needs. They primarily focus on designing various chairs, but also offer coffee tables and dining tables. Their furniture meets 21st century requirements in every respect, whether for home or public use. Typically made with the use of moulded plywood technology, the models are sophisticated, with curved, soft shapes that invite you to touch them. Carefully crafted surfaces, understated shapes and, not least, the warm tones of wood offer users a long-lasting experience. In addition to comfort, the design of the furniture also relies on economical transportability and easy assembly. The brand also takes care of sustainability. They only use wood from sources certified by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and even the technology they use is environmentally friendly, as plywood generates less waste than solid wood. Plydesign furniture is timeless and will serve generations in a row.

The brand also places a strong emphasis on collaboration and knowledge transfer. A fine example of this is the close relationship with Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design. As part of this, the brand actively supports an emerging generation of designers and is committed to participating in roundtable discussions and workshops aimed at design awareness. In addition to developing and selling its own collections, Plydesign also provides production management, coordination and logistics services to foreign companies. This means, among others, finding suitable suppliers for its foreign partners, coordinating various processes, and organising the final assembly and dispatch of the products to the partner's specified party.

The brand's slogan - We Do Care - perfectly sums up its philosophy: it expresses the kind of attentive care and awareness that is present in every layer of their operation, from product development, material use, product sophistication and corporate culture to the quality of business and customer relations.

About the Design Management Award

During the Design Management Award's existence spanning over a decade, the notion of design management has become widely recognised. It has made its existence visible and comprehensible, highlighted its importance and has also provided a tangible, easily adaptable guideline by presenting good practices and examples to follow. The entries submitted by the winners of this award, which is now increasingly recognised on the business scene, showcase a range of effective tools starting from brand identity highlighting the essence of the given brand through the quality of customer care, progressive ways of developing products to new management strategies. The results achieved show that the use of design is an asset for the economy as a whole, whatever the field of activity. In a broader sense, it supports the definition of objectives, the construction of medium and long-term strategies, the organisation of corporate structures, work processes and even human resources. A design-focused approach also helps managers react more readily to unexpected situations and adapt more effectively to rapid change, giving them a competitive advantage that is essential today in a volatile, uncertain and increasingly complex market environment.

The usefulness of the initiative is confirmed by the diversity of the winners: in recent years, small and medium-sized enterprises, businesses dedicated to design, commercial companies and non-profit initiatives have all won the award. The award was established by the Hungarian Design Council in 2009 with the aim of promoting the integrated application of design and its most remarkable achievements to professionals, businesses and the general public. The call for applications intended for businesses showcases the activities of companies, institutions and organisations that have integrated design into their business operations in an exemplary way, applying it at all levels in their everyday lives, as well as in larger-scale processes and strategic decisions. The call for entries is launched every year by the Council, and anyone can nominate or enter anyone for the award, including their own organisation or business.

The online exhibition of this year's winners of the Hungarian Design Award and the Design Management Award can be viewed here.