Haworth president and CEO Franco Bianchi
Meet You modular space system
Bay table by Castelli for the Haworth Collection
DSC Axis chair by Castelli for the Haworth Collection
Milan Preview | Haworth CEO Franco Bianchi
Friday, April 5th, 2013
President and CEO, Haworth
Location: Headquarters in Holland, Michigan
Products: Office furniture, accessories, environments
It sounds like a great American success story: In the 1940s a guy named G.W. Haworth borrows 10 grand to expand his woodworking business and a few decades later it’s a global leader in the design and manufacturing of office furniture. But Haworth has thrived thanks to its international design savvy and influences from around the world. With Milan’s biennial office furniture exhibition SaloneUfficio running alongside the main fair this year, we chat with Haworth’s president and CEO, Bologna-born Franco Bianchi, about what’s happening in the world of work.
DB: What’s the SaloneUfficio like?
Franco Bianchi: The level of creativity and experimentation is more significant around the main Salone, but I’ve seen office furniture evolve in the 15 or 20 times that I’ve been to the Salone since 1990. The office furniture section really follows the ebb and flow of the economy.
DB: When the economy’s not so good, are office environments paid more attention?
FB: Yeah, I would say today our market is as competitive as it’s ever been, and every day we have to remind ourselves and our customers of the value of what we sell. We don’t sell just tables and chairs: Space matters. Through our science and our knowledge we can help our customers create a more efficient and effective workforce. If you forget that and you just try to sell a folding table a little cheaper than someone else, we’d get in big trouble pretty fast.
DB: What do like best about Milan during the Salone?
FB: I enjoy the food, the parties—Milan is a great city. The exhibition really sprawls throughout the city, so every night you have 15-20 parties everywhere. You have furniture design connected to fashion, to art, to movies, to theater… there are many connections to be made. I remember great designers I’ve met there for the first time. You end up getting to know them as people first, they tell you about the passion they have, and then you do business with them as designers. People do business with people.