ABOUT COURAGE, BALANCE AND CURIOSITY IN BUSINESS WITH DIANA BLINDA
WE BEGIN THE SERIES OF INTERVIEWS WITH ENTREPRENEURS WITH DIANA BLINDA, FOUNDER OF HANSEN ERGONOMICS STUDIO AND AMBASSADOR OF THE DESIGN DRIVEN PROGRAM.
DIANA BLINDA IS AN ENTREPRENEUR THAT SUPPORTED MANY CREATIVE INITIATIVES, SUCH AS URBAN EYE ARCHITECTURE FILM FESTIVAL AND THE CREATIVE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM DE-A ARHITECTURA. THUS, HER JOINING THE DESIGN DRIVEN PROGRAM WAS A NATURAL STEP.
For Diana, design is a lifestyle, an element that draws the map of her journeys and defines the products offered by the business she leads. A complex discussion that addresses topics such as: the balance that we all have to search for in our lives when it comes to personal and business time, the courage and determination that every person who wants to be an entrepreneur needs to have, the passion and curiosity that lay the foundation of every business.
HOW DID THE EXPERIENCE OF YOUR BRAND BEGIN?
The experience of the Hansen brand began when we discovered the 4th dimension of our life: design! We made the next step when we understood the importance of ergonomics in office spaces and the role of design in ergonomics. Design as aesthetics, functionality, necessity, innovation and change represented the foundation of our business back in 2003, when we started collaborating with a producer from Italy that created furniture conceived by designers. This means vision, authenticity, quality of materials, attention to details and it takes into consideration all aspects related to the creation of an authentic design piece. We recently visited the offices of some clients we had in 2004 and all the furniture we installed 12 years ago still looks impeccable. This is what design means: quality and durability, besides an aesthetic concept. Design also means creating solutions for people’s needs. The design objects we offer are human-centred.
WHAT’S THE VALUE THAT DESIGN BRINGS TO YOUR BUSINESS?
Design helps us create a pleasant working environment. The fact that we spend eight hours a day at our working place makes us think that the way we feel at work is very important. Moreover, through design we can create a more creative working space. The way in which we arranged our desks, the design objects that we use, the innovative furniture (Swopper chairs – dynamic, without backrest; the height-adjustable desks at which you can work while sitting down or standing up) – all these invite you to be creative. An objective we work on is that of being able to clearly communicate the values of Hansen through design and to create a coherent image to all materials that leave our doors towards the public.
HOW DO YOU STIMULATE CREATIVITY WITHIN THE BUSINESS?
We’ve created an open, unstrained and clear working space for our team and this allows our colleagues to have initiative, to feel comfortable and to come at work with enthusiasm. The ping-pong game and the time spend in the Hansen garden are other sources that generate creativity. We take into consideration the team’s opinion when developing our ideas. It’s interesting to involve in a debate people with different visions and talents. They are thrilled to contribute and thus they came up with some ideas we alone have never thought of. Furthermore, we encourage our team members to attend events at which Hansen is a partner or organiser because, this way, they become Hansen ambassadors.
WHAT “DESIGN-RELATED” INVESTMENT DO YOU WANT TO MAKE FOR YOUR BRAND?
In terms of “design-related” investment, I desire as workplace a glasshouse in which we can work during any season, in order to be connected with nature as much as possible. Why a glasshouse? For a maximum of natural daylight. Of course, during wintertime we would use unconventional energy sources; ideally, our working and creation space should be as easily sustainable as possible.
With respect to Hansen, I desire that every person that finds out about us to associate our brand with quality and elegance. I wish that our name is easily recognized by all business people who love design and also by the ones that are just curious and don’t have a “relationship” with design yet.
AS AN ENTREPRENEUR, A SUBJECT YOU MEDITATE ON, A CHANGE YOU WANT TO BE PART OF IS…
What concerns me is how one can separate the professional life of an entrepreneur from his/ her personal life. I want to help people to be aware of the fact that a life in which you work 24/7 is not worth living. Yes, we are here on this planet with a mission, but human experience also means to contemplate nature and to be amazed by its wonders, to connect with all your senses in all kinds of interactions. I think we now live like little robots that charge themselves in household sockets. Who nowadays still knows the smell of a garden after the rain?
WHAT HELPED YOU COME THIS FAR?
The survival instinct. I would like to say that my strategic vision helped me, but strategy has succumbed in the struggle to survive on a market and culture that permanently transforms. Intuition helped me, which is a refined form of survival instinct. To rephrase the two ideas, what helped me was the educated and refined instinct developed through research and the intellectual power to transform information into ideas and concepts. Being open to connecting with people and establishing relationships and to transform groups into networks and communities.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE IN THE FUTURE OF YOUR BUSINESS?
Because our interview is design-driven, I would like the first selection criteria of the Hansen team and of Hansen’s franchisees to always be the passion for design, a passion nourished by education and actions and not only on a declarative level. In the future of my business I would like to see a public that is more prepared (mentally speaking) to buy design, more clients that are brave and more designers that are ready to take on this role.
A PIECE OF ADVICE FOR A DESIGNER THAT IS ABOUT TO COLLABORATE WITH AN ENTREPRENEUR
The designer and the entrepreneur will have better results if they make an effort to know each other better, personally speaking, right at the beginning of their collaboration. We somehow go back to a human-to-human way of communicating. In order to have a clear brief from the beginning of the project, I believe that the designer must know his/ her entrepreneur client very well, to be able to know or to foresee what priorities he/ she has and what communication channel he/ she prefers. To empathize with the entrepreneur would be a dream come true. I know such an example and the results are amazing! Of course, the business, the project and the fact that you know the final clients are also important matters, but what firstly counts is the person that has the role of the entrepreneur. In fact, I think that the designer needs to understand that he/ she and the entrepreneur are a team and that they must have the same visions and objectives. If I may give a second piece of advice for designers: don’t be afraid to stand up for your ideas and to carry out your creative concepts.
DESIGN AND BUSINESS SOURCES WHICH YOU USE TO KEEP INFORMED
I read Juxtapoz, an art magazine published in California that intrigues me with their audacity in each new number. I especially like its interviews with artists. I read Monocle that is beginning to be more and more popular in Romania. I don’t find it as cutting-edge as in its first years, but I always find interesting information about design and trip destinations in it. I like IDEAT magazine, I am inspired by entrepreneur.com and I constantly read articles published by fastcompany.com. I also like the online magazines of some businesses that have chosen to communicate with their clients in this way, not by advertising on media channels. I like magazines that create communities. I like Zeppelin. I like magazines that step out of their ivory towers (aka the editorial office) and attend events, organize their own events and interact with their communities. I like publications that keep the promises they’ve made to the community they serve.
‘CAN DESIGN SAVE A BUSINESS’
Of course! Design can save a business due to the fact that it can take the business out of a boring state. It can save a business from bankruptcy and it can develop it in unthinkable directions. It all depends on the design chosen and on the person who decides upon a particular design. And it also depends on the way the business displays the design that the designer created for the business.
A PIECE OF ADVICE TO INSPIRE US
Never stop dreaming. And with respect to your personal life, do something for your soul, mind and body EVERY DAY. Don’t neglect any of these pillars. If you do, this will destroy the wonderful balance that makes us human.
AN OPINION ABOUT DESIGN DRIVEN
It had my heart from the very first message! Dear Iulia and Irina, I like your consistency and vision, I like the determination you have when you create something and the pure way of applying your principles in what you do and in what you communicate. Don’t forget the reason why you created this platform! Don’t forget about your mission and about the enthusiasm you had when you created it. Promote DESIGN even where it is just a beautiful dream or an intangible aspiration!