An interview with Kinnarps UK's new MD
Let’s start with your background. You’re Swedish – tell us more…
Yes, I was born in Sweden and grew up in a small town called Hammaro.
Hailing from such a tiny place - Hammaro is an Island actually with approximately 15,000 inhabitants - I never thought I would leave. In fact, even Stockholm felt like a big city!
But, in 2002 I journeyed to Baltimore, in MD USA to study and play ice hockey. I moved to London in 2006 and I’ve stayed ever since. Working for a prestigious Swedish company in a country I now call ‘home’ feels like my two worlds have collided.
What’s the biggest misunderstanding that us Brits have of our Swedish compatriots?
That we’re all blonde and work for IKEA...
I think some Swedes may come across as ‘cold’ or ‘boring’ which derives from the Swedish culture of Lagom. Traditionally in Sweden, you shouldn’t be too “out there”; you should keep yourself to yourself. It’s better to be middle of the road. With that, I think it takes Swedes longer to open up to people. But once we do, you will see how much fun we are!
Furniture is an industry you know pretty well. What’s the story there?
To be completely honest, I joined the industry purely by chance.
I had an interview for a role which sounded really interesting (even if I wasn’t entirely sure what ‘monitor arms’ were back then...) – and began my career at Colebrook Bosson Saunders.
After CBS, I joined Steelcase and spent almost ten years with them in a variety of roles. My time at Steelcase gave me great insight into both global and local sales within the largest office furniture manufacturer in the world.
Most outsiders probably see the furniture industry as ‘boring’. I would challenge that and say it’s a very exciting and fun industry, and one where you can have a massive impact on the organisations that you work with.
Was it an easy decision to leave Steelcase and join Kinnarps?
No, I actually thought Steelcase would be my final company within the furniture industry.
But, I’ve always had a special relationship with Kinnarps. Firstly, Kinnarps is a Swedish company, so there’s a lot of personal pride in this for me. Secondly, Kinnarps used to be a client of mine when I worked at CBS – and I loved working with them. I admired the people, the company culture and how strong they were on sustainability. And thirdly, I felt I could make a difference. As soon as I heard that there was an opportunity, I was already full of ideas and raring to go.
What’s your take on the immediate future of the industry, post Covid-19?
This is not the death of the office.
Creativity and innovation flows in the office environment in a way that can’t be replicated at home. And there’s also the social aspect. Without that office community, many find themselves lacking a sense of belonging and connection.
I’m interested to see how offices will look moving forwards and how they will adapt to new business objectives. I’m also really excited by the notion of a ‘green recovery’. What if this devastating pandemic has finally made us realise the benefits of looking after the environment?
What can customers expect from Kinnarps in this new day?
Speed, sustainability and Swedish-ness.
Organisations will need to be open to change and think of creative solutions for opportunities that may arise. We, as their furniture suppliers, need to remain one step ahead to provide the best possible customer service. We’ll be staying true to our ethos on sustainability. And, I want us to be prouder of our Scandinavian designs and the heritage of the Kinnarps brand.
Plus, there are definitely a couple of things in the pipeline which may surprise people... Watch this space.