The best of the best for the best
In the *designalliance, the leading premium furnishers in Germany and Austria have come together. Managing director Gerhard Böhmler in an interview with InteriorFashion.
The best of the best for the best – The leading premium furnishers in Germany and Austria have joined forces. Together with the *designalliance, Böhmler im Tal (Munich), Clic (Hamburg), Dopo Domani (Berlin), Mathes (Aachen), Ruby (Berlin), Steinhoff (Hannover), and Wetscher (Fügen, Tyrol) want to offer the best consulting and planning expertise for the interior sector and strive to further improve their services in favor of their customers. InteriorFashion talked with Gerhard Böhmler, who is responsible for the management of the *designalliance together with Anand Steinhoff, about motivations and targets.
IF: Mr. Böhmler, a short while ago you announced the founding of the *designalliance. What was your motivation behind this step?
Georg Böhmler: After having founded the organization in 2004 in a different constellation, we met again last year in order to newly define the contents of the *designalliance und to position ourselves as a powerful association of the most prestigious furnishing houses in Germany and Austria. We also have conceived a new CI to increase the awareness of the end customer.
IF: What are your aims?
Böhmler: We have formed the alliance to offer the best consulting and planning expertise within the interior design sector. As a consortium of the best interior designers, trendsetters, and style leaders in German-speaking countries, the *designalliance is recognized as a competent and trustful partner of manufacturers, architects, and interior decorators as well as of buyers who love the best. The demands of our customers are also subject to changes. Even today, we serve an increasing number of international customers. For this we want to position ourselves more broadly.
IF: How are you going to achieve this?
Böhmler: We see the brand *designalliance as a quality seal and a promise to our customers. We offer accumulated interior design expertise on the highest level. As passionate trendsetters, we have to act as pioneers in the discovery of international trends as well as new products and designers. We have to provide individual solutions for the changing furnishing habits of our customers. In addition, our common purchase strategy enables us to offer the best possible selection for the best possible prices to our customers.
IF: In what fields are you going to cooperate or take advantage of synergies?
Böhmler: Every *designalliance member is the leading furnishing house in its region and gathers information on shopping behavior, preferences, service requirements, etc. Together, we are able to draw on a globally unique network of international interior designers, architects, and manufacturers in order to translate the latest trends into the living environments of our customers. A further important aspect of our association work is the lively exchange of best practices between the members. Each partner benefits from the experiences of the others. We love our business and have the passion for permanent improvement. This is more fun in a group of like-minded people.
IF: In your press release you speak of changed furnishing habits. How exactly do they have changed and what are you and the members of the *designalliance going to do about it? Is the founding of the *designalliance a reply to this trend?
Böhmler: In addition to the growing number of international customers, the wish for individualism has become more and more prevalent. Our customers want to have things, which are not available to everybody else. At the same time, we have less and less customers, who are looking for one specific piece of furniture. Today, they are increasingly interested in complete room concepts. Every member of the *designalliance is able to provide those room concepts from one source. Their top interior decorators plan and realize those individual interior concepts making use of the ideas and products of globally leading designers. And yes, it’s true, the association expands and accelerates our international network – we are always one step ahead.
IF: How important are the internet and e-commerce services to your enterprise? How do you deal with those aspects?
Böhmler: They are not very important as far as sales are concerned. Yet, we do notice, that customers are often already very well informed when they enter our shops. They often find pieces of furniture online or in interior design magazines, before they visit us to look for it. Our segment is rather exclusive – our customers usually do not look for bargains but seek the advice of interior design experts – this consulting competence and the ability to procure unique collector’s items is what they get from us.
IF: In 2004 there already existed an association called „design.alliance“ with a similar board of members. What has become of it?
Böhmler: This is true. The idea to found an association originated in 2002 – as a reaction to the economic crisis. As you’ve said, nearly the same people were involved. The old association will now be transferred into the eponymous *designalliance – with new aims. How can we improve? How can we improve for the sake of our customers? This is what drives us forward. We are working on many plans and projects, but I cannot reveal them yet.
IF: Are there any plans to expand the *designalliance?
Böhmler: We are open to new partners. Every owner-managed premium furnishing house in one of Germany’s and Austria’s urban centers can become a member, if it is not yet represented, has a certain size and offers appropriate collections. Of course, the managing director also has to be compatible with us.
The interview has been published in the InteriorFashion issue 1|2015.