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How to build a winning designer-manufacturer partnership

How do designers find the right manufacturer? CEO of Australian furniture design and manufacture company, Planex, Jean-Pierre Jardel imparts his first-hand experience and wisdom on the topic.

How to build a winning designer-manufacturer partnership


September 10th, 2014

Planex, which has been operating since 1973, specialises in adaptive storage solutions. Their factory, located in outer Melbourne, is equipped with state-of-the-art sheet metal prototyping and production equipment, to manufacture custom designs with short lead times.

Operating within the evolving workplace market, Planex is quite clear in its goal, which is to manufacture end-user solutions that are enduring, versatile, elegant, resolved and original.

When it comes to working with designers, Jean-Pierre Jardel, CEO of Planex, offers Australian furniture designers some insight into how best to approach and work with the right manufacture.

So how do you go about finding the right manufacturer?

“By discovering the manufacturer that shares aligned values, vision and purpose,” Jardel says. “Also by knowing which manufacturers are responsive to end-user needs and receptive to the rapid introduction of proposed new products. And finally, by having an understanding of the manufacturer’s processes and materials.”

It’s critical, says Jardel, that manufacturer and designer share mutual respect for values and intellectual property, and operate on equal terms.

Collaboration, too, is essential and can reap rewards for both parties. “It’s a shared experience – the designer has a great design and the manufacturer provides the capability.

“Together we can provide local solutions that are a credible alternative to imported products; you too, can also ensure your design is manufactured authentically; and there’s satisfaction to be had in seeing products designed and manufactured that are specific to the end-users’ needs and budget.”

Flexibility is a critical consideration, because if your design is to be profitable it must meet manufacturing processes and be marketable. The design may also require minor changes so, Jardel says, be prepared!

He acknowledges that there are many challenges to manufacturing in Australia –we’re competing in a difficult market, there’s the threat of overseas-produced replicas, exorbitant distribution costs and a global marketplace without trade restrictions.

But there are also many great advantages to manufacturing on home soil: accessibility, short lead-times, ongoing quality control, reduced environmental impacts, continuity of supply, large colour range options and importantly, local support and maintenance to customers.

The manufacturer-designer relationship often comes down to a need for mutual survival: “we need you and you need us,” says Jardel. And, when approached with a collaborative mindset, it’s often a win-win partnership.

View Planex’s new Storage Guide, click here, and keep an eye out for the new specifier-friendly Planex website, set to launch in October 2014.

Jean-Pierre Jardel spoke as part of the Launch Pad mentoring workshop in Melbourne in July. Launch Pad finalists will be on show at CULT, 22 – 23 August as part of Melbourne Indesign, click here.

Launch Pad


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