In 1955, the enterprising vision of a young seventeen-year-old Francisco Andreu Marti laid the foundations for what would become a much celebrated Spanish furniture company. The company’s first chair designs (‘model 72′ in 1957 and ‘model 123’ in 1963) captured the simplicity of Nordic design, a genre that was growing in popularity in the 1960s. Attendance at trade fairs boosted interest in the company and in 1969 it moved to a larger factory under its own name: Andreu Est (based in Alaquàs, Francisco Andreu’s home town). With a growing international outlook, in 1980 a new brand was created and aptly named Andreu World.
Today, Andreu World has showrooms in cities across the world, from San Francisco to Tokyo. Many of the company’s designs are made in collaboration with celebrated design professionals, including Patricia Urquiola, Philippe Starck, and Jasper Morrison. Of particular significance, Andreu World’s International Design Contest, now in its 21st year, supports a wealth of emerging design talent. With its passion for design, tradition, and craft, Andreu World creates furniture pieces with a truly timeless quality. Its products are the result of a commitment to research, technology, innovation, and design. Moreover, sustainability is core to Andreu World’s approach: it was the first company in the world to have a complete FSC® certified offering.
At its heart, Andreu World remains the dynamic company that was born in Valencia, its character and values reflecting a Mediterranean way of life. For this edition of ‘tradition and transition’, we talk with Jesús Llinares, CEO of Andreu World.
Andreu World is a family business very much built on tradition. Can you describe the transition to a modern, future-focused company that remains loyal to its roots—how do you balance the two?
(JL) We were born in 1955 when our founder, Francisco Andreu, set up a small cabinetmaking workshop. For more than sixty-five years, we have been manufacturing chairs and tables that we sell across the world. Our furniture is made from a love for detail and passion for design, and with the desire to improve the lives of people in the environments they inhabit. Design, sustainability, and innovation are in the genes of Andreu World: wood is in our DNA.
The brand is a result of the mastery and work applied to wood and joinery, something that has been forged over many years—it is a combination of design and innovation in all areas, with a solid culture of manufacturing and industrialisation. The design of our products, with a recognisable identity, has always been our pillar of industrial culture. Combining know-how and technology, we have industrialised craftsmanship in complete harmony with our surroundings and the environment.
Andreu World works with some heavyweight design names—Patricia Urquiola, Philippe Starck, Piergiorgio Cazzaniga, and Jasper Morrison to name a few. How have their design perspectives contributed to Andreu World’s evolution?
(JL) Our purpose is to create good designs in order to bring inspiration and innovation to architects and interior designers. We strive to be a world leader in designing seats and tables, made with passion for a contemporary lifestyle: it’s the reason we work and collaborate day by day with innovative architects and designers. Our aim is to offer furniture pieces that meet the requirements of all types of spaces, in a sustainable, healthy, and long-lasting way.
Andreu World’s yearly International Design Contest seeks to support and promote emerging talent. In what is often a top-heavy (big name) design world, how can we ensure younger design voices are heard?
(JL) True to our commitment to design, in 2001 the Andreu World International Design Contest was born. It is now an established contest of international repute, with an increasing number of participants year-on-year. The event’s main objectives are to support emerging talent, encourage creativity, and new ideas. At the same time, it serves as a forum for the exchange of ideas and communication, disseminating innovative projects in the field of contemporary and sustainable furniture design.
The Andreu World International Design Contest is unique, because it specialises in the design of seats and tables. Moreover, it is one of the longest-running events. The contest has welcomed the participation of over 30,000 contestants from 124 countries, more than one hundred juries, and two hundred international schools of design and architecture. For the 20th anniversary in 2021, we celebrated a special edition in which Philippe Starck, Paola Antonelli, Rafael de la Hoz, and Chantal Hamaide were jury members—this was in collaboration with the World Design Organization and Valencia Design Capital.
Registration for the 2022 edition, with a focus on sustainability, is now open. The registration period will end on 2nd December and I encourage you to participate. (Find out more here.)
Can you describe the Nuez Lounge BIO®, part of a family of chairs, tables, and stools designed by Patricia Urquiola.
(JL) From its three-dimensional and enveloping shell, which folds like a sheet of paper, the most sustainable lounge chair is born. Patricia Urquiola’s Nuez Lounge BIO® takes sustainability in design a step further. It is created from a thermopolymer of natural origin, generated by live microorganisms that ensure the seat is biodegradable and compostable. In addition, the Nuez Lounge BIO® is 100% recyclable—each of the materials that make up the chair can be easily separated and recycled.
The chair is upholstered using Circular ONE®, a new fabric manufactured with PET bottle plastics and textile waste. A 100% FSC® certified central ash wood base enhances the sophisticated character of the Nuez Lounge BIO® and gives it a certain naturalness. It is also available with an aluminium base.
Andreu World was born in Valencia. Connected to the sun, sea, and nature, how does this region shape the way in which you live and work?
(JL) In its origins, Andreu World undoubtedly enjoys the culture and tradition of its industrial heritage, based in Mediterranean design. There are other cultures and geographical settings where Andreu World is present, but the Mediterranean is our natural and original environment. Its influence can be seen in everything we do—it defines our character and forms part of our values.
We are Mediterranean and we like to say that quality is not at odds with warmth, that technology can go hand in hand with craftsmanship, and that creativity, sustainability, and well-being are part of our DNA.
Andreu World is part of Spain’s rich and diverse design community. What sets Spanish design apart from those design countries that people might be more familiar with (such as Denmark, Sweden, and Italy)?
(JL) For many decades, a large productive and creative network has been consolidated, where designers, creators, and innovative and leading companies coexist. Andreu World is heir to this culture, working on the construction of a consolidated and global brand: it is an expression of our commitment to and passion for design made in Spain, and for excellence in quality and timelessness. We are part of the ‘Leading Brands of Spain Forum’ (AMRE) and the ‘CRE100DO’ program, that brings together one hundred Spanish companies with the greatest international projection and growth potential. Design is an engine for growth—the other is industrial or manufacturing culture.
We have been recognised with Spain’s prestigious Premio Nacional de Diseño (National Design Award) as well as other important awards, including: Red Dot Design, ADI Design, Wallpaper* Design, and Best of NeoCon (Andreu World is one of the most awarded companies in Chicago).
All images © Andreu World.
About Tradition and Transition
Tradition and transition is a series of interviews with Spanish design companies very much admired here at LZF. In this series, we explore how traditional ways of working harmonise with transition, change, and innovation. Similar to LZF, we’re keen to learn more about those companies founded on the basis of tradition and their subsequent transition to modern, dynamic businesses.