The fifth edition of the special Contract by Domus talks about the world of large contracts through the voices of some of the main protagonists of the production scene. The intent that moved us was to try to understand what its current boundaries are and what strategies are adopted to amplify its potential, in different product sectors. But we also wanted to look ahead, identify and tell the logics of contract that move specialized service companies and new departments within large platforms that have appeared on the market, more and more numerous, in the recent years.
The stories of the experiences of entrepreneurs, CEOs and contract division managers of five companies – Artemide, Cappellini, Duravit, Kvadrat and UniFor – provided us with a solid basis for analysing the state of the art and the problems of the lighting, furniture, bathroom, textile and office sectors. The result was a theme-based analysis, accompanied by the most recent projects of the groups involved. Beyond the differences in vision and approach, some shared points emerged, points that can help to trace a useful path for companies that want to develop their contract potential. Quality and know-how are certainly the cards to focus on to establish themselves in this sector, in addition to sustainability, in terms of energy consumption and production processes.
In a sector regulated more than others by legislative and technical constraints, it was essential to investigate the characteristics, requirements for contract applications and customization of the different materials involved in large orders. We have chosen five of them – wood, ceramics, fabrics, veneers, laminates, metal – and we have analysed them by consulting as many specialised producers: Abet Laminati, Cotto d’Este, De Castelli, Dedar and Listone Giordano. From this technical and design analysis, the importance of working on research and innovation emerged, learning from the comparison with the architects of major projects and trying to anticipate trends, always with an eye on market demands.
Different logics from those of large product companies move other actors in this particular sector: new business formulas that come to ‘interfere’ with the traditional dynamics that regulate contract supplies – thanks to the direct relationship with the end user through the Net. Examples include Airbnb Luxe, which provides a range of services from 5-star hotels to villas/apartments, or Common.com – a platform that offers services from location research to interior design, renting and daily services – and Lago Design Network, which offers design services in various sectors, thanks to which the company makes its know-how available. Or Wework, specialized in coworking and workspaces, or chains of hospitality such as Generator.
And it is precisely in the hospitality sector that the example we choose as the emblematic realization of an innovative way of proposing design on a large scale moves: the new hotel of the chain The Student Hotel opened in Berlin in October, which combines styles Retro, Memphis and Berlin of eighties in 450 design rooms, an outdoor cinema, a coffee shop managed in collaboration with Concierge Coffee, a co-working area and a restaurant of the chain The Commons.