Design Adventures On The Iberian Peninsula

By
Joel Brown
October 16, 2020

Actiu On The Iberian Peninsula

Spanish furniture designers and makers Actiu export their products to 84 countries worldwide. #3e1 head to their Alicante HQ to find out what makes them tick.

3equals1’s Harry and Gert were invited to visit the Actiu factory in Alicante in South East Spain by Think Furniture, one of the dealers that we’ve developed a strong working relationship with in recent years. It was not only great to see the process of how Actiu makes their furniture, but also an awesome experience to meet the local people, see where they work, find out what motivates them, and enjoy a taste of the local architecture and culture. Read on for a full review of our adventures in Spain.

Beautiful sea views, palm trees, and warm temperatures

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Welcome To Alicante

Located on Spain’s south eastern Costa Blanca, Alicante is just a two and a half hour journey away from rainy London.  We arrived on a lovely sunny evening and by driving from the airport to our hotel, we enjoyed our first glimpses of Spain taking in the beautiful sea views, great sunset skies, the palm trees, and of course the fantastic temperature. With under 500,000 people living in Alicante, this is a small city compared to London and the atmosphere as a result felt more relaxed and not too rushed. Jose, our superb host, took us to a lovely restaurant called ‘La Taberna Del Gourmet’ in one of the city’s narrow streets. We were treated to a delicious selection of tapas that can only be recommended by a local - que bueno!!

Actiu’s Head Office    

Friday was a day full of information about Actiu as a company, their head office, their philosophy, and how they work in terms of manufacturing processes. We began at their head office, a state of the art complex which opened in 2008.

The name Actiu means active in Spanish and the colour red demonstrates their passion, something which was evident throughout the whole day. The company certainly presented itself as a group of people with a huge passion for what they do. This strength of feeling could be seen not only in their furniture but also in the way their office is designed and the manner in which they take care of their staff and their environment.  

Indeed, forcing people to work in badly designed environments all day regardless of their task profile is costing businesses a serious amount of money in lost productivity. It’s important to also bear in mind the currently unmeasured cost for employees and society of lost health and well-being through stress, fatigue, restricted neural development, and impaired sociability. Actiu’s working environment responds so well to the evolving needs of today’s workforce. We also felt their enthusiasm in the way they carefully curated this visit for us.

In the beginning…

It all began for Actiu in 1968, when Vicente Berbegal founded the company. In 1970 Actiu designed a piece of furniture, created to hold a television, to serve the people inside a space. The Television stand was well received and became a landmark piece for the company which perfectly embodies the Actiu philosophy. Actiu as a brand aims to serve the people and tries to make the lives of people easier. For this reason, they believe that attention must be given to the space and the products to make sure they themselves are serving the people too.

This piece of furniture is a perfect example of Actiu’s philosophy

This mind-set has seen continued growth for Actiu with their vision evolving over the years from being centred on products to being centred on people. Actiu produce a vast range of products which have enabled them to be successful in many sectors. Focusing mainly on workplaces, Actiu have worked in industries such as education, health, and travel (airport furniture). 

Project Profile | WELL v2


Head Office Architecture

This passion for human-centric design is not only visible in their furniture but also in their head office that was opened in 2008. The design of Actiu Technology Park was created by Architect Jose Maria Tomas Llavador. 

Beautiful indoor gardens, great lighting and technology to help the air humidity in the building are all part of the desire to make sure the environment helps and stimulates the people who work there. It also helps keep them healthy and happy. It was very inspiring to see that even the interior architecture showed a bit of the Actiu philosophy. For example, the beautifully designed stairs that didn’t just look great, but actually encouraged the staff to use them instead of the lifts.

Actiu as a company feels the need to take care of the natural environment in which they operate and wherever possible they do everything they can to help save the planet. A great example of this is the fact that the energy their head office makes could provide a year’s electricity for a town of up to 5000 people. Their self-sufficient water supply holds water underneath the car park in reservoirs the size of two Olympic swimming pools

1) Badminton Chair

A striking piece Badminton is an iconic element within a workplace. Its name originating from the chairs’ similarity to a shuttlecock. A stand out piece which was nominated for German design award 2016. The perfect chair to take off to around the office to take a phone call or do some focused working yet can also brighten up the office environment.

2) Karbon Chair

Winner of Red Dot Product Design award 2019.

3) Longo Lounge

An original system definitely a stand out product. Merging soft seating and the office. Also available in a modular system and part of an extensive range. Really help allow for more and encourage informal meetings to happen within the office. If users are in need of a quick 15min touch down meeting opposed to actually needing a physical meeting room this is a great solution.

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