‘Cosy’ is not a word that sits comfortably when describing most high end contemporary furniture. But that’s precisely the label export manager of renowned Dutch firm Linteloo uses to define the ambience of his products.
Visiting ECC Furniture in New Zealand for the first time as part of an exploratory tour of the Asia Pacific region, Pascale Zegers says Linteloo is all about “the feel good factor”. That’s the company’s core philosophy and it’s a concept that set the lifestyle brand apart right from when young Jan Te Lintelo (one o! – he added an o because everyone else tried to) established the company after years of experience in the furniture manufacturing industry 15 years ago.
Zegers explains: “Back in the mid-1990s, minimalism was the vogue in Europe and interiors tended to be cold rather than warm and inviting.” Linteloo’s comfortable, loose cushioned sofas pushed the boundaries. Consumers soon caught on when they encountered the designs that were showcased in and around the Cologne and Milan Furniture Fairs. Now Linteloo is an established name represented in 45 countries.
Once you’ve sunk into one of Linteloo’s sumptuous sofas, you understand what Linteloo is all about. “They’re sofas,” says Zegers, “that you don’t just sit on, but you sit in.”
One of Linteloo’s latest designs perfectly illustrates “the feel good factor” and happens to be a personal favourite of Zegers’. A massive 4.4 metres long and 1.3 metres high, Jan’s New Sofa by Italian designer Paola Navone threatens to engulf the ECC showroom. Definitely a statement piece in deep purple with layer upon layer of big, loose, shabby chic cushions, it’s big enough for an orgy, jokes ECC’s Mike Thorburn.
Linteloo’s showroom at Zeist in the heart of the Netherlands brings together international designers and European craftsmen to create furniture that lasts for years. The “feel good factor” is felt in the showroom’s relaxed, easy going atmosphere where they serve good coffee and offer baked Apple Pie.
The company spends a lot of time creating comfort, says Zegers. “You can do a drawing, but you need the right materials, the right shapes and the right balance of down, feathers and foam. It has to be soft, but it must also be durable to last beyond 10 or 12 years. That’s why you must use foam – to maintain the right density and shape.”
Linteloo’s tables also offer an inviting textural allure. Materials are honest, pure, natural and solid. Zeger’s favourite is the organically shaped Isola table in a robust, solid oak that’s been smoked to create a darker hue then stained and finished in linseed oil for ease of maintenance. Some surfaces are treated to a rustic appearance by sandblasting to highlight the age rings of the timber.
Because of the need to protect the environment, Linteloo has improved its technology to incorporate high quality veneers sourced from many different countries. “We even have tables where eight or nine different types of timbers are used in one design.”
Quality continues to be hugely important. Jan Te Lintelo still personally travels extensively to visit all his suppliers, manufacturers and designers, looking for the best he can source. But for Linteloo, business is about more than producing great furniture, says Zegers. “The people we work with become our friends. We like to work with people we like so we have a strong connection and we understand each other better – and we have fun!”
In today’s challenging business environment, that ethos seems to fit very comfortably.