Barking up the right tree
There's many ways to produce beds, tables and shelves, some good, some not so good. For the production of his adaptable furniture systems, de Breuyn has chosen the route of sustainability.
Hans Carl von Carlowitz is regarded by many as the father of sustainable forestry. In 1713 the German published his treatise "Sylvicultura Oeconomica", the first thorough discussion of forestry management, in which he paid particular attention to the care of the natural environment. Today, seals of quality, such as the FSC mark, guarantee the future of forest regeneration.
Only that which grows well has true quality
“In regions with centuries old forestry traditions, there is a deep seated understanding of the responsible use of resources. The people there think in generations, not in financial years”, explains Jörg de Breuyn. This is true of the forested regions near the Tatra Mountains in northern Slovakia, the source of the beech wood for de Breuyn's long lasting children's furniture. The firm's owner visits the region every year to see for himself the reforestation, which is, of course, documented under the FSC scheme.
Colours close enough to be from the same tree
For the production of his solid wood furniture, de Breuyn only uses A/A quality beech wood felled in the winter. After the required seasoning, the wood is steamed in a special process by a local sawmill. “Depending on the type, growing area and quality, the wood has differing colours and grain”, explains de Breuyn, after the treatment all the timbers reliably attain a uniform colour. So uniform, that the producer can guarantee that additional elements bought 10 years after the original bed will have the same colour. And not just that.
The high art of carpentry
de Breuyn makes durable modular furniture, that can be individually modified, extended or altered. A principal, that requires utmost precision and consistency in the production. “Only then can we ensure that components from today will fit to components from 15 years ago”, explains the boss of the firm. The entire system would fail if there were even the smallest displacement of screw holes.
The expert work of de Breuyn's Czech facilities is particularly evident in the debe.deluxe series. Some parts require hand glued full length wooden slats, laminated together, for desk surfaces and other elements. “To arrange the wood to make best use of the grain and tension, there's no machine that can do that”, says de Breuyn, describing the complex craftsmanship.
A bed isn't just made of wood
The textiles, which are transformed by a social enterprise for disabled people into cushions etc., are also prepared under de Breuyn's guidance. The firm has the raw cotton dyed following the Oeko-Tex-Standard, with colours based on their own recipes.
In total, the business works with eight different subcontractors. For example, two carpentries for semi-finished parts, a wood turner for the pirate ship's wheel, a locksmith's for metal fittings and a paint shop, in whose 13 spray booths – which protect both the workers and the environment - the colours, also mixed to de Breuyns requirements, are applied.
Class, rather than mass
The children’s furniture maker was initially criticised when he chose to move his production to the Czech Republic. “As our furniture offers a wide range of options, we have to produce around 3000 separate parts. Compared to our revenue, that's an unbelievably large number. The metropolis on the Rhine would have been far too expensive for such a production concept", explains de Breuyn, who would have never considered switching to mass production.
He personally knows all of his 30 workers in Oslavany, and knows their strengths and abilities. Just as in Cologne, where as well as his showroom, warehouse and offices, there is a 300 square meter workshop. There he employs six carpenters for one-off production, interior design contracts, playground equipment and prototypes.
“In the Czech Republic, as here, teamwork is writ large. Everyone strives to do their best, and I can fully trust my employees”, is the family-like work environment described by de Breuyn. This all makes for worry free quality control, and equates to an important sustainability factor for de Breuyn.
Quality to 100 percent.
“Sustainability is, for me, more than the production of high quality, long lasting, furniture systems.” says de Breuyn, he also ensures that his supply chain provides fair wages, uses toxin free materials and provide safe work environments. Alongside equal representation of men and women, and a balanced age structure within his workforce, de Breuyn regards workplace safety, energy use and recycling as significant aspects of sustainability.
The beech wood that is felled in Slovakia for children’s furniture, doesn't just come from 100% sustainable forests, but 100% of the timber felled is put to use in the nearby sawmill. That isn't just sustainable, that's the respectful way to use a resource that has taken 100 years to grow.