Henrik Holm, founder of Arthur Holm, on crafting a niche
Selling the nuances of integrated furniture design to the high end corporate market is not without its challenges, as Charlotte Ashley learns speaking to Henrik Holm, the founder of Arthur Holm.
For corporate specialist Arthur Holm, its distinctive focus on design is fundamental to its success. “For many, functionality is the main focus and if it looks nice too that’s a bonus, but we concentrate on creating designs to complement the most recognised designers and furniture manufacturers in the world,” explains Henrik Holm, creator and CEO of Arthur Holm, sister company of Albiral Display Solutions.
“When we are dealing with a boardroom table that is maybe £100,000, the ﬁnishing will be fantastic, and we as a manufacturer have to match that,” he adds, reﬂecting on the company’s range of motorised and retractable offerings. This ethos has its roots in the 1960s and an approach to design and ergonomics cultivated by designer Jorgen Alex Jenson, now maintained by his family and spearheaded by Henrik. “The inspiration deﬁnitely comes from my father, and the environment I grew up in,” says Henrik. “The typical Scandinavian design is epitomised by a certain timeless quality we try to engineer.”
“Today we cannot avoid having technology in our meeting rooms and buildings, but it’s important to remove any obstructions between us and other people.”
An export engineer by trade with a background in AV, Holm may not be schooled in design, yet the culture of design runs throughout the company’s 45-person strong team. With no standard time-frame for product development, the company relies on pooling its expertise and reacting to environments. Integral to this is designers familiarising themselves with every corner of any possible boardroom or other corporate environment (receptions, hotels) to scope angles, visibility and how to best facilitate one-to-one communication when technology is not in use. “Today we cannot avoid having technology in our meeting rooms and buildings - technology is everywhere,” says Holm. “But it’s important to remove any obstructions between us and other people.”
Aluminium, glass and stainless steel are used to craft products, with special attention paid to keeping both dimensions and hazing (on screens) to a minimum. Holm notes that as things move slower in the professional side of electronics compared to the consumer side, it’s critical for them to construct products with the lifespan to match a boardroom table – potentially up to 15 years.
Yet delivering these products to large businesses is not without its challenges. Around 50% of the company’s work comes from custom requests, and client expectations mean project time-frames are a constant struggle. “We spend a lot of time on projects that can be years, and sometimes the day that the customer ﬁnally decides on something, they wanted it yesterday. That has an effect on the whole installation.”
The hurdle often preceding this can be educating the company itself on the value of investing in motorised monitors, a tablet lift or retractable microphone brings to a space. Holm admits companies either ‘get it’ or don’t, usually depending on how long they have been in the industry. “Companies who are new in the business need to get traction and will put in calls to get dealers to get the company running, but in the long run-term they ﬁnd that the solutions are not perfect.”
“It seems like the markets are getting better now, but still people would like to go ﬁrst-class, but only want to pay economy class,” says Holm. “Not everyone sees the lifespan of the product, instead they just see the proﬁt at that time, and not the renovation of their company in the future.” Looking ahead, Holm adds that it’s essential to keep boardrooms as clutter-free as possible to ensure productive workspaces.