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Royal Swinkels Family Brewers   landscapem

A new corporate identity was the direct incentive for the redesign of the head office of Swinkels Family Brewers, known for the Bavaria, La Trappe and Palm breweries, among others. Gispen had already furnished this playful, triangular building back in 2004. Now, fifteen years later Gispen has translated the company’s new corporate identity into a partly new, and partly refurbished interior that can serve different functions. The latter was a necessity: Swinkels Family Brewers have not only increased their offer of beer brands, their number of employees has grown too.

New corporate identity for the holding

The head office of Swinkels Family Brewers is located in Lieshout. A footbridge connects the building with the breweries and malting plants on the company grounds. HR, Finance, IT, Procurement, Sales, Communication, Innovation and the Facilities & Construction office; they are all accommodated in the head office. Fabiènne van Thiel-Swinkels, Head of Facilities & Construction: “Approximately 250 employees work here in total, occupying both personal and agile workstations. In addition, colleagues regularly fly in from our other branches in Belgium, Ethiopia and France.” The original design of the building has already made it a natural meeting place for people; meeting up at the bar in the central, open atrium for example. However, the colour schemes no longer matched with the company's new corporate identity. Fabiènne: “The most dominant colour was blue previously – ‘Bavaria blue’ – but in recent years we have added many brands to our beer portfolio. In addition, the building was once designed for 180 employees; today we have to accommodate 250 to 260 people. It was getting crowded – which affects the atmosphere and work experience.”

With a nod to a glass of beer

Business Manager Danon van der Hoeven from Gispen was involved in the redesign from start to finish: “Gispen presented a proposal for the colours, materials and products to be used for the renewed interior. We supplied furniture for the company restaurant (atrium) and various conference rooms on the first floor. By offering different seating arrangements at the company restaurant, the space has become multifunctional. Employees like to go there to confer with one other, for example. At a number of conference and consultation rooms, we reupholstered the existing Kusch+Co conference chairs – which were still very usable – in matching colours. We also improved the acoustics and created spaces for secluded meetings within the open-plan office. These areas are provided with MultiLounge sofas with high backs that not only have an acoustic effect, but also guarantee privacy. The round, barley yellow Gispen Asido footstools in the various rooms are a nod to a glass of beer. Furthermore, the Gispen Dukdalf table collection can be found in various places, including both the high round table and side table.”


Circular entrepreneurship and interior design

Fabiènne: “Circular entrepreneurship is important to us. We have opted for sustainable construction and brewing all around the world, we strive for energy-neutral and water-neutral breweries, we reuse our waste and residues more and more and we do so to an increasingly higher standard. It is also with these circular principles that we looked at our furniture. All the departments which house workstations are furnished in a uniform manner: each wing has four rows of workstations as well as agile workspaces and consultation areas with coach seats or high tables with bar stools. Existing desks have been reused for the construction of new workstations. At the company restaurant, we reused the existing tables, which were given a new look by painting the frames black. These tables are accompanied by new chairs that were supplied by Gispen. The old chairs are now used in the cafeterias of the various breweries. Around 50 board room chairs, that were previously blue, were reupholstered by Gispen.”


Facts and figures

Swinkels Family Brewers thought carefully about the correlation between personal and agile workstations. Over 190 workstations have been refurbished in total. Approximately 105 of these are for personal use and about 90 are intended for flexible use. Fabiènne: “Special stickers indicate whether a workstation is for personal or flexible use. Our premise is that the employees who adopt an agile work method, will be at their workstations for 60% of the time and spend the other 40% holding meetings and being on customers' premises. All employees have moved; departments and teams that regularly work together have been put together. “Every single piece of furniture has been relocated! And we removed at least 60 containers full of old carpeting and other redundant stuff from the office.”


Chairs on trial

Naturally, Swinkels Family Brewers was given the chance to try out their new furniture. Danon: “We suggested to put a combination of different chairs in the restaurant. Test chairs were placed there for a week or so, allowing everyone to try them out. Our key requirements were comfort, a modern look and being able to withstand intensive use. The chairs had to usable for both the company restaurant and for informal meetings at the atrium, as well as for agile working.”


Are you satisfied with the result?

Although it took some employees a while to get used to thinking ahead about where they would perform their tasks, we have received very positive feedback on the well-ordered layout and many different workspaces that were added. The new colours and the changes that were made to the furniture, flooring and interior elements such as pantries and dividing walls have been received with great enthusiasm and have energised our people! Together with Gispen, we are now very conscious about our furniture and their future use. If our office chairs no longer suffice, for example, we will explore the possibility to upgrade them by only replacing parts. If desks would become redundant, we might then be able to use the tabletops and frames for a different function. This is how we keep out furniture operational for as long as possible.”


Photography: Chris van Koeverden

Circularity is important to us; the result is a beautiful combination of new, reused and refurnisbed pieces of furniture.
Fabiènne van Thiel-Swinkels Head of Facilities & Construction, Royal Swinkels Family Brewers
portrait of Fabienne Swinkels
Fabiènne van Thiel-Swinkels - Head of Facilities & Construction, Royal Swinkels Family Brewers

The client’s thoughts

'It was in 2004 that Gispen won a tender for the interior design of our head office which, at the time, was designed by my father and me. This resulted in a great partnership. We now knocked on their door again for the redesign. Gispen has helped us tremendously with translating the new company colours into a colour scheme and selection of materials for the interior. Circularity is important to us; the end result is a beautiful blend of both new and reused or refurbished furniture. All dashed out in our new colours, with a starring role for barley yellow and taupe.'

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