”We aim to be the most sustainable company of our niche in the industry”
Right before Stockholm Design Week, we speak to outdoor furniture company Vestre’s CEO Jan Christian Vestre about striving to be transparent, green and get better to set an example.
Jan Christian Vestre has grown up with Vestre. His grandfather started the company before his father took over. But, it wasn’t always easy.
— I remember as a kid when business was quite rough. We moved to Oslo and had to start over. I think that stays with you, the drive to do something and trying to do it even better, he says, continuing,
— I’ve been active as a youth politician and was on my way to become an attorney. I was almost finished at university when my father got terminally ill. In the end, it came down to a choice: to take a break from my studies, step up and take the role as CEO of the family company, or let an outsider take over — and that I just couldn’t do. From that moment I decided to try and use Vestre as a vessel for good, to make good design and sustainability a profitable business model. And this far it’s been working quite well. I finished my studies as an attorney in 2018.
The Norwegian manufacturer has 70 years plus of experience creating spaces where people can meet.
— We aim to be the most sustainable company of our niche in the industry. We always strive to be transparent, green and get better to set an example. Our factory in Torsby, Sweden is designed by Snøhetta and runs completely on green energy. We work with skilled designers and democratic design, says Vestre.
Following you over the last few years, it seems that you’re one of the world’s most sustainable-minded design companies. Do you agree?
— That is what we aim for. We believe that everyone can change the world a little bit at a time and we se no contradiction in making business profitable and genuinely good at the same time. We have an advantage in the Nordics, to harness our skill and resources for the industry and set an example.
One way of doing so is to strive to fulfill the Agenda 2030 goals made by the United Nations. There are 17 of them. Vestre has incorporated 9.
— Our factory runs on green energy, we only buy materials with the lowest carbon emission possible, we have a lifetime warranty on our products and incredible quality made to last. We also reinvest 10% of our yearly profit into education in third world countries as well as many different projects connected to farming, micro loans for local entrepreneur programs, and more. For us sustainability is just as much about behaving in a certain way, socially and ecologically.
Their art installation The Peace Bench created together with Snøhetta is now moving from New York to Oslo. Commissioned by the Nobel peace center, the task was to design something to make people unite, talk and strive for goodness.
— Snøhetta’s design came to life with help from the world’s greenest possible aluminium from Norsk Hydro and our manufacturing skills. Since benches are a speciality of Vestre, we truly feel that the project strung a cord close to the heart. But now, after the bench was unveiled outside the UN Head Quarters in New York this summer, it will come ”home” to Oslo.
Next week will see the launch of this year’s news at Stockholm Furniture Fair
— We have amazing news coming up with Swedish design studio Front, Espen Voll, Tore Borgersen, and Michael Olofsson to name a few. Note design studio is creating the stand for us in a setting that will truly reflect our sustainable values. We are also quite involved with the upcoming Munch museum in Oslo, but that has to be a secret a little bit longer…says Jan Christian Vestre, adding,
— One thing we at Vestre truly hope moving forward is that Sweden and Norway can work more closely together. We are alike in so many ways, but can still learn form each other’s differences. I hope design and good will can bring our industries even closer, to make a greater impact on a global level.Jan Christian VestreVestreVestre Snøhetta UN Peace BenchSnøhetta