Akaba was founded in 1986 by three entrepreneurs who enthusiastically joined forces to set up a furniture company in which design, an international presence, the firm’s image and job creation were all central to its philosophy.
In the early 90s, the firm gradually changed direction: its products which, well-designed as ever to help differentiate it from those of other firms, began to cater to public spaces (offices, training rooms, libraries, hospitals, halls of residence, universities, airports, cafés, etc). It scored many successes in this field and, thanks to new designs, entered a strong phase of expansion and growth.
From the start, it has invested in producing cutting-edge pieces –ones designed by high-profile designers and creatives. Early on, Akaba created collections in collaboration with designers and artists of the stature of architect Santiago Calatrava, sculptor Andrés Nagel and designers Javier Mariscal and Santiago Miranda – all of whom dreamt up outstanding products, causing the company to make waves on an international scale. Since then, it’s collaborated with such high-profile designers as Jorge Pensi, King & Miranda, Pascual Salvador, Patxi Mangado, Miguel Ángel Ciganda and Helmut Jahn.
Throughout this time, the company has launched a multitude of chairs, benches and tables. Notable among Akaba’s best-selling products are the seating and bench system Gorka, which, unveiled in 1993, is now considered a modern design classic, and the Branka stackable chairs of 2006 both designed by Pensi.
Akaba’s furniture also graces many public areas, notably London’s Royal Opera House, the Library at Saint Denis in Paris, the Royal Library in Copenhagen, the Inter-University Library in Montpellier in France, the offices of such firms as petroleum company Pemex in Mexico, Bilbao’s entire underground train system and various airports, including Changi International Airport in Singapore. Akaba has also supplied its products to many hotels, like the Hotel Sana in Berlin and Hotel Kempinski in Munich.
Also, in October 2003, in Thailand, Akaba signed a license contract with Thai company Bangkok Franchise, for the manufacture, under the Akaba licence, of over 22,000 of its Nomad seating, designed by Helmut Jahn for Bangkok’s new airport.
The company also offers a special service – it custom-makes pieces. This has allowed it to contribute, in recent years, to such major projects as the stations of Spanish rail company Renfe’s commuter train network.
Driving such internationally successful projects – which has led the company to export over 50 per cent of its goods to markets with a high purchasing power – are a young, dynamic team of staff, a people-centred company philosophy, a desire to cater to the needs of the market and an engagement with economic and social circumstances. The company has received many prizes in recognition of its career successes to date – including, in 2000, the National Design Award in acknowledgement of its development as a business, its use of design as the common thread running through its projects and its international reputation and success. And, in 2002, it received the Prince Felipe Business Excellence prize in the PYME Competitiveness category.
In 2008, Akaba decided to move to its new, 10,000 sq m Atallu HQ in the town of Usúrbil in Guipúzcoa in the Basque Country. From here, Akaba aspired to consolidate its position as a leading company in the sector of high-end furniture for public spaces, offices and special projects for the next 10 years.