The globally ambitious company Kettal was founded in 1964. The idea of setting it up came to Manuel Alorda, who’s married to a Dutch woman, when he noticed once on a trip to Germany that there was hardly any outdoor furniture available on the Spanish market. Today, 47 years later, the Kettal group (Kettal acquired the brands Hugonet, Triconfort and Evolutif in 2000), is one of the most internationally renowned companies in its sector.
A milestone in the company’s history was the launch in 2005 of Kettal’s Maia collection, designed by Patricia Urquiola. Its runaway success garnered the company international recognition and prestige.
Many other tales of success have followed this one. Recent triumphs for Kettal have included winning the Wallpaper* 2011 prize for its Bob armchair and Premio Nacional de Diseño (Spain’s National Design Awards prize), organised by Spain’s ministry of Science and Innovation.
Kettal’s ambitions aren’t limited to launching gorgeous pieces: with each new collection, it also strives to discover and deploy new materials and finishes, while remaining true to its central philosophy of caring for the environment by using ecologically sound paints and wood from managed forests.
To find out more about the company, we interviewed Alex Alorda, its founder’s son and its current vice-president.
Interiors From Spain: In under 50 years, Kettal has become one of Europe’s main companies making outdoor furniture. What do you think has been the key to your success?
Kettal: The main thing for us is to make sure our clients are satisfied. The key to our success lies in hard work, enthusiasm, sensitivity and the application of a great deal of common sense. The most important thing for us to aim towards is to be the best company in terms of what we do, not the biggest.
IFS: Traditionally your company has employed in-house designers to develop your products and it’s only in recent years that you’ve begun to collaborate with external designers. What brought about this change? And what have these external designers contributed to the company?
Kettal: About six years ago, we witnessed a generational shift in opinion which led to a period of change and a revitalisation of the brand. We began by commissioning Patricia Urquiola who created a collection for Kettal. With her Maia collection, she reinvented the look of outdoor furniture thanks to her idea of interweaving materials in a way that gives her designs a unique, dynamic character as well as rendering them very 3D. Without a doubt, Patricia has brought something new to our portfolio by ushering in an exciting new phase in the evolution of outdoor furniture. On the back of this, we’ve begun commissioning work by high-profile Spanish and internationally known designers, such as Marcel Wanders, Emiliana Design Estudio, Hella Jongerius and Rodolfo Dordoni. It’s very important for us that the designers we collaborate with share the company’s values, and that their style corresponds with the brief for the new collection in question. The fact that we received the 2010 Premio Nacional de Diseño is an acknowledgment which confirms that we’re taking the right approach.
IFS: One of the main ways in which Kettal has expanded internationally has been to open its own shops in Paris, Miami, Antwerp, Cannes, London and Guangzhou in China. What value do you attach to this strategy?
Kettal: The opening of our own shops allows us to get to know our end users’ tastes intimately. This is invaluable to us when we develop collections which are more tailored to our clients’ needs. Furthermore, our shops create a space devoted exclusively to displaying garden furniture, and offer a personal consultancy service.
IFS: Can you tell us about your most recent collections just launched in Milan?
Kettal: At Milan, we unveiled new collections by Rodolfo Dordoni and Hella Jongerius. Our Bitta collection, created by Dordoni, comprises a mixture of aluminium frames and chairs incorporating woven polyester cords. The designer’s intention was to weave the cord densely but not so tightly that it can’t ‘breathe’. The designers’ intention is to evoke the bollards which boats are moored to with ropes, and to use neutral colours since these have a soothing effect. Meanwhile, Jongerius’s Bob collection is a reinterpretation of the classic garden club chair. Its seat is made of soft, voluminous ribbed upholstery, highlighted with visible stitching, while twisted cord was used on the.At Milan, we showed a limited-edition Bob armchair in new colourways. We also showed a sneak preview of a new collection by Patricia which will be fully unveiled in September.
IFS: What are the main challenges your company faces today?
Kettal: To be able to continue managing the projects we like and to consolidate our brand’s identity, while constantly creating products which harmonise with each other, which offer real value to our customers – and which we’ll be proud of in years to come.