What sets you apart from other commercial furniture companies and products?
We’re innovative, curious and committed to great product design.
We have our own in-house design team which means we can customise our products to suit individual client needs. We also have Thinking Solutions, a satellite design team within our R+D Department, with a mission to identify clever solutions to every design problem encountered by our clients (even ones they don’t know about).
But above all, we are curious. Why curious? Because curiosity finds new ways. It strives for novel ideas and seeks out better solutions. For the curious, the answers are out there, waiting to be found. At Thinking Works, this open-minded curiosity is what underpins our approach to furniture.
An example of this curiosity is one of our latest product releases. We could see that people working in large office spaces were craving quiet spaces, and we wanted to help solve this problem by creating a ‘quiet’ environment. So we came up with a new product called ‘Thinking Quietly’ which turns the volume down on workplace sound AND is certified under GECA’s Furniture, Fittings, Foam & Mattresses (Level A) standard.
Our Managing Director, Dean Kuch, engaged an acoustic engineer as part of the design process and advanced acoustic materials were chosen. The desk pads, screens, brackets and canopies were tested for acoustics, paying attention to the placement of these materials to maximise the acoustic performance of the workstation.
Peace at last…
Why did you choose to get GECA certification, and how important is it to you?
We’ve had a number of products certified with GECA since 2009. Ten years on, we still have products certified under the Furniture, Fittings, Foam & Mattresses (Level A) standard.
GECA have a good reputation in the furniture industry and a robust credible certification process. GECA has a well-recognised ecolabelling brand that clients, designers and end users are aware of.
If we want to be specified for Green Star projects, then we need to have the GECA certification. It’s that simple. These can be the larger projects, so we always want to be considered for Green Star projects.
What’s changed for you as a result of either going through the certification process, or since achieving GECA certification?
We’ve proudly had several products specified for Green Star Projects, some of which have gone into the recently developed Barangaroo precinct.
What do you think are the biggest sustainability challenges for your industry right now?
One of the biggest challenges is meeting multiple market sustainability expectations.
We have clients in the UK, Europe, Asia, America and New Zealand. Each market is requesting different certifications and compliance, which can be a challenge for a small to medium sized company. Having multiple certifications, environmental test reports, and services to assist us with managing all of this comes at a cost to our business.
Another issue we face is product substitution. We take addressing sustainability seriously, and we know that most of our clients also want to support a company that addresses social and environmental issues. But there is a problem with product substitution in our industry, where end users have specified our product and they have been swapped for a lower grade product that may not have the sustainability credentials and certifications in place. This is disappointing not only for our business, but also for the end user where they may not even be aware that the product that they specified has been changed.
Tell us about any sustainable initiatives that you’re currently participating in, and where you’re currently at in your sustainability journey.
Dean Kuch, Thinking Works Managing Director, has a strong desire to make a difference, both in terms of lowering the company’s environmental impact, but also having a positive impact on people under his care, and for those that are less fortunate.
In 2016 Thinking Works became a signatory to the UN Global Compact – just one of the many initiatives that we have been involved with over the last 13 years.
Our journey began back in 2006 with the implementation of our Environmental Management system. Thirteen years on, we have implemented some great sustainability initiatives: some involve certifications (ISO14001 EMS and GECA), others help the planet by reducing the materials we use, reducing our waste, our energy and offsetting our company carbon emissions.
We have also been focusing our attention on ensuring our suppliers in developing nations are employing safe work practices. We give advice and make suggestions and recommendations as to how they can improve their current safety and environmental practices. More recently we have initiated a Suppliers Code of Conduct which addresses human and labour rights, environmental compliance and anti-corruption measures.
For a full overview of our sustainability story to date, please click here.
Thinking Works and Sustainable Business Matters – working in partnership
Libby Staggs, Principal Consultant at Sustainable Business Matters spoke to GECA about Thinking Works.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some great clients since I started consulting with product manufacturers over ten years ago – clients that challenge me, ones that motivate and ones who just get it!
Thinking Works gets it. It’s a privilege to work as part of their team, to inspire and be inspired not only by the Managing Director Dean Kuch, but by different staff at varying levels of the organisation.
As the Principal of Sustainable Business Matters, one of my greatest challenges and also one of my greatest joys is staying up to date with industry trends and market expectations. I’m constantly attending workshops, seminars and conferences both locally and internationally to learn from experts around the globe on environmental and socially responsible business practices.
I do this because I love to learn, but also because I know I have a client that wants to be challenged, who wants to do the right thing and wants to find new and better ways of improving their business. Thinking Works is that client.
Sustainability by its very nature is constantly in flux and the benchmark for product manufacturers just keeps getting higher. Thinking Works with all their credentials and their certifications are in a good position to meet this ever-increasing demand for more sustainable products and ethical business practices.