‘Our responsibility is to make mass-production more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Yours is to be increasingly exacting and make your choices as a consumer accordingly.’ These direct, emphatic words – a declaration of Actiu’s principles – summarise the philosophy of this internationally famous firm which started out as a family-run business.
Set up in 1968 by Vicente Berbegal as a small workshop manufacturing furniture to commission, it soon became established as a respected maker of domestic furniture, thanks to its founder’s skilled craftsmanship. In the 1980s, Actiu cannily spotted a niche in the market in the then nascent world of computing. Since then, the company has flourished and diversified, creating furniture for all types of public spaces – and has reached out to global markets.
Today, Actiu is a benchmark of design, both for its successes and the ways it has achieved them. It undertakes all its own manufacturing, from the machine-cutting of wood and metal and die-stamping to the application of finishes.
Throughout its 40-year history, Actiu has created dozens of products which can be seen in a whole host of environments: offices, waiting rooms, transport terminals, conference centres, hospitals… In previous features, we’ve reported on its pieces, such as the stylised Level shelving unit, Passport bench and Winner chair, as well as such projects as the furnishing of Mexican company Tiba’s offices. In our gallery of images, we showcase some of its most representative projects, which are as cutting-edge as they are practical. In fact, Actiu frequently collaborates with designers working freelance for the company – such as alegreindustrial, Javier Cuñado, CDN, Lledó y Campos, and Sigfrido Bilbao.
Technology park of the future
Another milestone for the company was the opening in 2008 of its technological park. Occupying almost 200,000 sq m, it’s based in Castalla, 45km from Alicante in southeastern Spain. Designed by architect Jose María Tomás Llavador to be both user-friendly and environmentally friendly, the park comprises a complex of buildings with offices, areas devoted to logistics, production plants and green areas.
The technological park – an open, daylight-filled space that’s self-sufficient in terms of water as well as energy, thanks to the photovoltaic solar panels on its roofs –combines avant-garde design, functionality and sustainability. Last October, the building won a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certificate, given by the US Green Building Council, which recognises the global adoption of ecological, sustainable construction methods.
In the words of Berbegal, investing in sustainability in these times of economic uncertainty shouldn’t be seen as a risk but as a welcome opportunity: ‘Sustainability is an investment in energy efficiency, a way of preventing waste, of making the world a better place’. For these very reasons, the technological park has increased its productivity by 30 per cent.
Via its impressive roster of ecological and environmentalist certificates, Actiu gives its clients added value, providing them with a guarantee that all the stages in the manufacture of their goods are as environmentally friendly as possible. Among these measures is a guarantee that all wood used comes from sustainable sources.
Today Actiu employs 200 full-time staff and indirectly provides work to another 500. Almost 30 per cent of its sales are made to the 60 countries around the world where it has a presence. When Berbegal is asked about the company’s future, he answers with boundless optimism: ‘We’ll stick to our commitments, to respect, progressive attitudes and innovation’.
Report: office furniture
Actiu’s project in Mexico