More than 50 years among the best in the outdoor industry, a strong presence in over 80 countries with 5 showrooms around the world, important collaborations with renowned international designers such as Patricia Urquiola, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, Rodolfo Dordoni, Doshi Levien, Hella Jongerlius, Jasper Morrison and Emiliana Design studio. But at the heart of its success there is tradition, family history and the strength of a bond, with the territory and the people who share its values and business philosophy. This is Kettal.
How has the outdoor market evolved in the past 50 years?
The sector has changed a lot; many indoor companies have entered the sector and at this is encouraging the demand for high-quality products, now clients are starting to understand the value and the cost of outdoor furniture. Now the business is more complex, next to the normal Marketing strategies we used to implement, now we have Community Management (Instagram, Twiter, etc…), we have an existing customer base, but we also need to communicate with new generations, this is more complex. I believe that technology has and will continue to change the rules of business, this is just the beginning.
How has the company evolved in the last 50 years?
The company’s head office is located in the center of Barcelona. Its new manufacturing plant is situated in Bellvei, a small coastal village in Tarragona, 45 km from Barcelona. Historically, our old factory reflected of our growth as a company. It grew steadily and organically over the years, changing to meet the needs of each new period. The modest 1967 building of 1000 sq. m underwent a series of extensions that increased the factory’s extension to the 50,000 sq. m it covers today. In 2014, in an effort to make its expansion more efficient, Kettal decided to completely redesign its production facilities.
Which are the most innovative elements of the new manufacturing plant?
A new production plant has been built, with two interconnecting blocks entirely equipped to guarantee excellence in a factory that’s pleasant, well-lit and spacious at the same time; more similar to an office than a conventional factory. Its glass façade (1000 sq. m) ensures abundant natural light in the interior of the factory. The higher stories of the two blocks contain offices, services and showrooms, offering a good visual of the factory, for a more efficient production management. It also means that clients visiting the showroom have a panoramic view of the factory and of the furniture being made. The lower part contains the production and the service areas and a test lab where extreme weather conditions are simulated to test the resistance of products guaranteed for 10 years. The production chain of the factory is perfectly conceived so that products pass from hand to hand without ever touching the floor, from the arrival of the raw material to the packaging of the finished product, through each stage of the furniture creation. Production processes are strongly oriented to craftsmanship from the manufacturing of structural components to finishings, and include soldering, honing, painting, manual braiding, needlework and final packaging – all under the same roof.
How would you describe your connection to the territory, in terms of production and company history?
Our project is built on people, so our connection with the team is very important. We are proud to be one of the few companies that continue to manufacture in Europe, we started like this 50 years ago and we continue to do it. Most of our suppliers are 2 hours from our manufacturing facilities, they really feel the brand and feel connected to its development, if we need to work on Saturday for the opening of a project we do it, as well as our supplier, it´s a commitment we all share.
Is human value an essential feature for your company?
The human factor is very important in this factory – manual processes have the priority over mechanical ones. Eighty-five per cent of Kettal’s products are hand-made. Every product is treated as a unique piece, which means certain techniques can be used which would not be possible in a standard production line process. Production is labor-intensive, which has proven to be the perfect formula for over 50 years. To make one Bitta Chair, for example, it takes approximately 2 hours of all the processes previously described. Kettal is a company that closely identifies with its origins and many of our employees belong to families that have worked with us for several generations. Our factory reflects the people who work with us, just like our brand.