A hidden gem for German interior decorators: sustainably made, luxury furniture
Sometimes, hard work pays off in the most unexpected ways. Three years ago, EMKO – a furniture design and manufacturing company based in Lithuania – received a phone call from Germany with a very unusual request: a customer was trying to order a table she saw in a tour of the home of supermodel Claudia Schiffer.
“It took us a few moments to figure it out that the client was asking for our PILL table, designed by the talented Dalius Razauskas, that she had seen in the magazine,” remembers Erika Markovska Mikulskienė, the founder of EMKO. “At first, we were shocked that our product was in such a famous mansion, but also very grateful for the pleasant surprise.”
Designer furniture brand EMKO – back then, still an unknown company from abroad – sold its first designs into the German market when it appeared at the IMM COLOGNE trade fair in 2013.
“We thank German buyers for their initial trust in us, because without that first sale at the show, we wouldn’t have had enough confidence to go ahead and expand our design line further”, says Erika Markovska Mikulskienė. “It was sort of a shot in the dark, but at the show we realized that EMKO had hit the bull’s eye when it comes to style, quality and the needs of German customers and designers.
“In 2016, German design duo Büro Famos approached us at the IMM show. Our sustainably made, elegant, functional designs were a good match for the duo’s philosophy and previous work, so we began collaborating – and the HAT PENDANT LAMP was born”, says the EMKO founder. Today, EMKO sells its products in 29 countries and is often sought out by interior designers looking for new products in foreign markets.
In the world of modern furniture, EMKO stands out with its clean and simple-looking pieces, reminiscent of Scandinavian design. The Lithuanian company’s approach is bolder, however, bringing greater warmth and coziness.
“It may sound like a paradox, but the simpler the design, the harder it is to make high-quality, long-lasting furniture that can be passed down through generations. It’s up to us to achieve outstanding design quality, to perfect our craft and use materials that ensure a long-lasting relationship between the customer and the piece of furniture they acquire”, adds Erika.
German customers also value EMKO for its attention to building client relationships. “We are in the long-term furniture business, so customer care is key. German customers especially value our highly responsive attitude, and trust us to implement their ideas. This combination has brought us much success, particularly when dealing with custom pieces and all the work associated with bringing fresh, unexpected ideas and creative passion into everyday life”, EMKO’s managing director says.
The company’s approach has paid off – EMKO has now established itself as a trusted partner in creating smart, comfortable designs for homes and workplaces: almost 20 per cent of the firm’s products are sold to the German market.
“I believe it has a lot to do with the fact that we use a lot of wood in our products, and focus toward durable, sustainable materials. We also turn great customer care into everyday practice,” says Erika. EMKO is proud to represent the Lithuanian furniture manufacturing, which in known in the world of interior design for its highly skilled workforce, modern manufacturing facilities, up-to-date design solutions and competitive prices.
EMKO is just one example of Lithuania’s furniture industry today. Lithuanian designers have made their mark with a distinctive mix of Nordic and Western European furniture traditions, together with a highly developed technological base, creative abilities, and great customer service. Lithuanian culture also stands out for its close relationship with nature, which creates a natural aspiration towards sustainability.
The furniture industry is also a significant contributor to the Lithuanian economy, with up to 86 per cent of total sales in the sector coming from exports. Lithuanian manufacturers are mainly approached by buyers from Germany, Sweden, Norway and the United Kingdom.
With the world becoming more complicated every day, it’s great to come home to simplicity. To create a natural oasis of calm and cosiness, German consumers are increasingly choosing to surround themselves with the beauty and simplicity of furniture and other household goods that are made using natural, sustainable materials.
To achieve success, it’s often said you need to “think big” – and for one family of master jewellers from Lithuania, it’s literally true. Their leap from jewellery-making to furniture design might not seem the most obvious move – but by putting their creativity and expert metalworking skills to work on a larger scale, they have produced a range of subtle, nature-inspired tables and other items they call “jewellery for the home”. And after finding favour with buyers at home and in the US, they now hope German consumers will fall in love with their innovative designs too.