Interview with company founders Manuel Welsky and Mira M. Hische
How and why did weld & co get started?
Manuel Welsky: Back when I was in college, I had already started designing, making, and selling my first furniture. After I finished my master’s degree in design in 2012, I knew that I wanted to design furniture and earn my living that way. So I founded the Manuel Welsky Design Studio. In 2014 I had the idea of not only designing products, but manufacturing and selling them as well. In other words, mass producing and marketing my designs. Thanks to my network of local furniture suppliers, this was a natural step and proved to be feasible.
How have the weld & co portfolio and the company evolved since 2014?
Manuel Welsky: Originally the weld & co collection consisted of different products made of reclaimed wood. Over time we added wall shelves, clothes racks, and coat racks made of oak. And to expand our portfolio, I then designed some metal wall shelves. First came our wall shelf with a diagonal grid pattern, followed later by a solid metal shelf. This was the beginning of the Solid & Grid collection. And in autumn 2021, we added our Walnut collection.
Mira M. Hische: : I met Manuel at a trade fair in 2015. His designs immediately caught my eye and I wanted to spread the word about them. I already had some professional experience in the marketing of design objects and handicrafts, and so from the beginning of 2016 we honed the weld & co brand and gradually developed the infrastructure it takes to successfully market design products. Nowadays it’s no longer just the two of us and our suppliers working together – we have gradually been expanding our team since 2019. And in addition to our headquarters in Bad Oeynhausen, we’ve had an office in Hamburg since 2021.
Let’s turn back to the products and the design. How would you describe the weld & co design approach?
Manuel Welsky: We believe in self-explanatory design – in other words, the design of a piece of furniture or home accessory immediately tells you its function. In design theory this approach is also called “affordance”, and it means that the physical shape of an object determines how it is used. The form of weld & co products is pared down to bare essentials, to clean lines, to optimal materials. It is our aim to create timeless, durable design products that fit into any context, no matter if the style is Bauhaus or Biedermeier. Another criterion that already plays an important role at the design stage is efficiency, which has two aspects: ecology and economy. This means that for the implementation of our designs, we select materials that maximize the function while using a minimum of resources. In the manufacturing of our products, weld & co combines artisan craftsmanship with industrial production. We keep our processes as lean as possible and stay in regular contact with our production partners. And the feedback from these production partners is incorporated back into our design process.
Can this approach to design also be felt in other parts of the company?
Mira M. Hische: Yes – focus, function, and efficiency all play a major role at weld & co and in our work. We have a vision of our objective and pursue it vigorously, but without being resistant to external influences and innovation. If we receive suggestions for new products, modifications to existing products, or even modern methods of corporate management, we will consider them. And if these suggestions are in line with our focus, we apply them and keep on using them as long as they are still efficient.
You just made a passing reference to the objective of weld & co. What exactly is the goal of weld & co, both as a brand and as a company?
Manuel Welsky: Our aim is to create an awareness of design esthetics, craftsmanship, and quality in and with our customers. Furniture and home accessories have become consumer goods, and therefore they should make economic, ecological, and social sense – throughout their entire life cycle. Through our furniture and home accessories, we are striving to support conscious consumption without making it too arduous.
Mira M. Hische: We want weld & co to be a sustainable organization that lives up to its economic, ecological, and social responsibility. This is the conviction that drives our daily work in and on our company. We are building a company that is innovative, willing to try new things and improve on the old. We would like to learn from others, and for other companies to be able to learn from us. We actually find that curiosity and the desire to try new things can be – although I don’t really like the term – fun. They motivate us. We firmly believe that the world needs good products and good companies. And we are trying to do our part.