The Styrian chocolate producer is known for his ability to use unusual creations to stand out again and again. One important focus is on fair trade and organic production. Visitors to his chocolate theatre can follow the production of his chocolate from bean to bar, tasting the different stages along the way. Afterwards, they can go to the edible zoo and meet the food on their plate in person. This idea is not to shock but rather to make people understand. We spoke to the chocolate expert Josef Zotter about blood chocolate, the art of failure and why he sometimes wishes he was American.
How do you create space for innovation?
Well, I don’t sit myself down and plan new product ideas. The ideas come automatically while I’m working – my office is chaotic but here is a system to it – I often write notes on pieces of paper, which are then moved around according to current priorities. I work on paper. And sometimes I have the most unusual ideas in my edible zoo. The thing is to relax and let the ideas come.
Who comes up with new ideas at Zotter?
I do! If Zotter is on the packaging, Zotter has to be behind the product. I combine tastes in my head to create something entirely new. I know what something will taste like before it has been produced. Luckily, I have more ideas than we can produce in a season - the difficult thing is to decide what not to make. I even have to take bestselling chocolate out of the product range to make space for new ideas.
The concept of innovation is not new. However, just like the business models that are based on it, innovation is constantly evolving. The possibilities it brings and its importance are growing continuously.
Success in the 21st century is achieved differently than it was before. One can own the most successful taxi company, without owning a single car or rent out millions of rooms in cities all over the world, without owning a single property. It is possible to be the largest trading centre worldwide, without producing a single product.
However, it is not only business models that reveal that things have changed. Our priorities have changed. We are communicating, living and working differently today than we did ten years ago. If you want your company to be successful, you have to adapt to change, keep up with it or even overtake it. You have to be ahead of the game.
Companies are now under a great deal of pressure to innovate. Management guru Peter Drucker summarised this situation with the phrase: “Innovate or die”. If you do not develop new approaches, or bring new momentum to the company, you will, sooner or later, be beaten by smaller, innovative new companies or start-ups. That is why innovation has been a key issue on the agenda of many companies for years now. Nevertheless, according to a study by McKinsey, 94 percent of all company directors are dissatisfied with the innovation performance of their company.
This German company is a global market leader in automation technology and industrial training. Festo AG & Co. KG in Ostfildern provides 300,000 customers from 35 different industries with pneumatic and electronic automation technology. We spoke to Christian Kubis, Director of Factory Maintenance Engineering at Festo Scharnhausen, about productivity, processes and basketball hoops.
In cooperation with Bene, you have installed four innovation rooms in your company. Why did you decide to do this?
We wanted rooms that specifically promoted innovation and creativity. We also wanted to create an environment that motivates employees to get involved and share their ideas with others.
How are these rooms received by the employees and in what way are they used?
Initially, our employees were quite sceptical. However, this changed after we had explained the rooms to them – they then understood how they could be used and how they work. Everyone who is familiar with the rooms and has already worked in them is enthusiastic.
What does innovation mean to Festo?
Innovation not only takes place in research but in all areas of the company. It does not have to be something completely new, it can also develop out of a combination of already existing ideas. The innovation process is influenced by many different aspects: employees and methods play a role, as does the organisation and the time invested. However, these are not the only factors to take into account – the ambiance and the room are also very important.
Innovative concepts, inspirational offices and high-quality design – this is what distinguishes the Austrian quality brand Bene. We trace the history of the 225-year-old company from its beginnings as a small carpenter’s workshop in Waidhofen an der Ybbs to becoming the international expert for new working environments.
Movement is healthy – everyone agrees on that: "A rolling stone gathers no moss," as the saying goes. Nevertheless, the average office worker today spends far too much time sitting. Despite the fact that there are good, creative ideas and high-quality furniture that not only make the work day more dynamic but also healthier.
Sitting at your desk hour after hour? No thanks! In a well-designed office, employees don't have to spend the entire work day sitting at their workspace. "Choose the place you need" is the motto of the modern office, as knowledge workers today can select the area best suited to the task at hand. Versatile, well-designed room solutions with a wide variety of features boost inspiration during the work day, as well as providing health benefits. Bene divides its office zones into We-places, where employees can meet and interact, Me-places, where the employee can withdraw for privacy and concentration, and Work-places, which are more conventional workspaces. It’s our vision of a dynamic office that promotes the movement of both mind and body.
Even if the office environment provides the optimal conditions for an active work day, the following fact holds true: People are creatures of habit. For this reason, new behaviours have to be learned that complement the spatial conditions. Already established workflows and processes should be modified to include more movement. For example, one could stand up when making a phone call, discuss matters with colleagues at standing tables, and frequently change one’s location in the office.
Work and lifestyle on the cutting edge. In discussions with contemporary figures we review the assertions, clichés and ideals which circulate around work envi-ronments. On this occasion we chat with Burkhard Remmers, spokesman for the German furniture manufacturer Wilkhahn, about ergonomics, motion and office trends.
Wilkhahn specialises in the design of high-quality, ergonomically designed chairs and related furniture. What developments have you observed in the last few years? What have been the noticeable trends and most important innovations in the world of work, and how has Wilkhahn responded to these?
Working cultures change much more slowly than people generally think. A good example is the paperless office, which people have been predicting for over 20 years now. It is only now that the internet allows us to work practically from anywhere that the paperless concept has gained real practical relevance and led to a decrease in demand for storage furnishings. It is important to distinguish between narrowly focused, often marketing-driven fads targeted to a very small minority and actual long-term trends. Digitisation with smart technologies is one of these trends that has an impact on all of our lives. It is exciting to see smartphones, tablets and related technologies being brought out of the world of consumer electronics and into the office — even with the related security concerns and the headaches for staff in IT departments. A second trend is related to this first one: the boundary between a person’s private life and their job has grown murkier. This in turn leads to a demand for offices to be more in tune with the way people live, warmer and more liveable. Furthermore, these new technologies, and the changes they have brought in terms of how and where people work, have forced people to rethink the key strengths and competences when it comes to office buildings. These have increasingly become places for communication and cooperation, especially since focused individual work can theoretically be done anywhere you like now. And this means, too, that it is all the more important that people come together in one place for cooperative work.
It is unhealthy to spend too much time sitting down. In spite of this, we spend hours every day sitting in front of our computers. What should a good office chair provide to prevent the user from developing back pain?
We have spent the last five decades researching this very topic and transform what we have learnt into constantly updated product standards. Back in the 1970s, the first Wilkhahn study advocated a transition “from stationary sitting to mobile sitting”. Since then, it has broadly been recognised that a lack of active physical movement plays a role in almost all illnesses associated with the developed world. On the other hand, when it comes to micromotor work, sitting is an absolute necessity in ensuring the concentration and efficiency required. And finally, sitting, along with standing and lying down, is a basic natural position for our bodies to take. It is not the fact that we are sitting that is the real problem, it is how we are sitting.
On May 29th, leading corporate representatives, innovation experts and startups came together for the 2nd True Economy Forum. Amidst them: VerVieVas @ the Bene Nice Wall!
Once again we had the chance to accompany inspiring keynotes by amazing speakers live on stage with Graphic Recording on our continuous frameless interactive Wall.
The True Economy Forum 2015 transformed the top floor of the Vienna imperial palace into an executive academy for corporate-startup-collaboration. And that is exactly what the agenda was all about: Amazing keynotes, interesting workshops and various networking opportunities brought startups and established companies together! In order to capture all the profound experience of the speakers, a VerVieVas creative-team (Alexandra Brenner & Fridolin Brandl) accompanied them throughout the day with graphic recordings on the Bene Nice Wall live on stage.
Office Trends, Inspiration, New Working Environments, Communication, Creativity, Innovation
Thank you for visiting the Bene London showroom during Clerkenwell Design Week. It was great to see you!
With so many new products, trends and ideas being presented this year, there’s bound to have been something that you missed. That’s why Bene have teamed up with graphic facilitators Scriberia; to capture some of the festival’s key themes on the Nice Wall powered by We-inspire.
Throughout the week, Scriberia created a rich and evolving digital tapestry of the festival experience - incorporating visitor suggestions, insights and quotes. Download the full mural here to see their results.
Bene is publishing an innovative online tool to design office environments: The Bene Office Maker (officemaker.bene.com) is a new online application that makes the design of office spaces delightfully easy.
When you start planning an office space, you may quickly find that it’s much harder than you initially thought it would be. What does a modern office actually do? What needs to be considered? And how can an office space perfectly support a company’s culture and processes?”
This is why Bene developed the Office Maker, a handy online tool to offer support in the initial phases of office space design. The Bene Office Maker is a digital tool that enables a conveniently easy visualisation of office settings. The online application just asks a few simple questions about the user’s company, work methods and workflows.
Bene celebrates its birthday. Founded in 1790 by Michael Bene as a small carpentry workshop in Waidhofen an der Ybbs, the company has now , 225 years later, 80 subsidiaries in 37 countries. 225 years of family history, 225 years of office history, 225 years of Bene history. Happy Birthday Bene.
Most people, especially in Austria, connect the Bene Logo with so-called "Bene-folders". True connoisseurs of the brand, however, know that these folders have only little to do with the core range of the office furniture manufacturer Bene. Why then are these two logos so similar?