Renz rules

A small but very special brand: office furniture manufacturer Renz, based in Böblingen, fits out the offices of the top names in business
Böblingen, 21.07.2008 | 

Renz rules. The list of reference customers of the office furniture manufacturer in Böblingen reads like the ‛who is who’ of international groups. The offices of company bosses from Audi to ZDF, from Lufthansa to British Airways and from Mercedes to Deutsche Bank are all furnished with desks and office furniture by Wilhelm Renz GmbH & Co. KG. The pieces are created by designers and finished with top-quality craftsmanship. The aesthetically pleasing and unfussy appearance as well as the thought-through functional concepts behind the small but very special brand from the Stuttgart Region are also just as popular with the civil servants in the Palace of Justice in Paris or the Merrill Lynch investment bankers in London.

The company’s general manager, Eckart Renz, has been running the family business in its fourth generation. His sums up his philosophy as follows: "We spend most of our time working. We should at least be able to do it in a pleasant environment." Typical Renz style is very clear and purist and possesses a warmth without any fuss or snobbish attitude. This recipe has paid off; with growth of 12%, the company is growing faster than the industry. The cooperation that has been ongoing for some years now with two international stars on the design scene, the Stuttgart duo Jehs and Laub, is also proving fruitful. The LANE series won the red dot award in 2007, while the SONO series - designed by the Hamburg designer Justus Kolberg - won the equally renowned iF product design award in the same year.

The present-day company developed out of Otto Vetter, a Stuttgart-based furniture factory founded in 1882. Wilhelm Renz took over the factory in 1902, and moved the headquarters to Böblingen some years later. In the early years, Renz chiefly produced furniture for private households. The company was always innovative. For example, Renz launched the first height-adjustable single-column table on the market in 1960.

In the mid 1970s, companies gradually more receptive to new ideas, after Renz proved that office furniture could also be attractive and that a pleasant design could be combined with a practical function. This realisation was triggered by the fact that one of the tables designed with the dining room or kitchen in mind at the time was mostly sold as a desk.

At the beginning of the 1980s, the company ventured a realignment to become an office furniture manufacturer. This was a clever decision in the battered industry of the time, where tradition alone was not a guarantee for future success. The decision to specialise paid off. The small but very special brand is doing good business. Renz produces exclusively in Germany, recording sales of EUR 10 million in Böblingen annually with its 60 employees. It is only in Australia and the USA that Renz works with licensed partners.

Precision and automated production are combined with the sensitivity of manual craftsmanship demanded of the highly trained employees, for example when an angled veneer edging has to be fitted to a round table-top. This is the point at which the machines reach their limits, and an employee needs at least two years of practice before he or she can master this specific method of ironing with perfection. As a result, there was never any question of moving production abroad.

The plethora of design prices awarded to the company on a regular basis for years now testify to its claim. Last year, for example, the LANE design series won the red dot award: product design 2007. The basic idea is a table-top that looks as if it has been made from one formed piece and is combined with a modular storage system. The furniture series can be used as a desk, a lectern or a lounge table. In addition to the aesthetically pleasing design, which is emphasised by top-quality materials such as metallic paints and carefully selected woods, the primary focus of all of the furniture series is on ease-of-use and a functional nature. A flexible range of conference tables with integrated fittings and cable ducts that can be clipped in, or the simple integration of technical equipment in the office environment without interfering with the design - these features guarantee an environment conducive to a relaxed work atmosphere and a balance of functional and optical considerations.