In the first of a monthly feature that will tell brands' design stories from concept to finely crafted product, we caught up with outdoor furniture manufacturer Tribù to talk balancing heritage with zeitgeist and the research behind its robust materials.
It's one of the oldest fully family-owned manufacturers of exquisite outdoor furniture, and one of the first to give gardens and terraces the design attention they deserve. So how has Tribù evolved over the past 50 years while preserving its clear, unique identity?
Where did it all begin?
In 1967, Belgian businessman Henri De Cock founded garden furniture importing company NV De Cock, and following his death in 1987, his son Lode took control. His mantra was: ’Before we wanted to please everyone, but then nobody really falls in love with you.’ Lode saw the importance of a clear identity, and so shifted Tribù’s focus onto creating furniture that combined discreet luxury with architectural design.
What set the brand apart back then?
At that time, cheap plastic and heavy teak furniture dominated the outdoor market. Lode contacted Wim Segers, an industrial designer. They shared the philosophy that the terrace should be an extension of the home and brought the cosiness, design and quality of indoor furniture to the outdoors. In 1998, Lode rebranded De Cock to Tribù, meaning 'tribe' in Italian.
Elegant design meets innovation in the development of new materials at Tribù. De Cock and Lode both came from civil engineering backgrounds, so they pushed the boundaries of what was possible. They shared a vast knowledge and a passion for finding new, natural-looking materials that defy all weathers - something that has remained central to the brand.
How does a piece of Tribù furniture come into being?
Inspiration comes from everywhere and we work with a limited number of international designers, including Monica Armani and Yabu Pushelberg, to craft pieces. We have a lot of designers presenting their ideas to us, but we’re a limited team and we need to make sure designers have the same philosophy as Tribù; simple and elegant. We’ll only go with a particular designer if their pitch perfectly aligns with that philosophy. We’re also very selective of the dealers we choose to sell the finished products - it's vital that they can explain the technique and craftsmanship behind each collection.
Tell us a bit more about the meticulously developed material...
As well as using water-repellent filling and adding an extra layer of protection on the inside of the cover, seams are stitched using a thread that expands when it comes into contact with water, preventing any liquids from seeping into the cushion. All materials are thoroughly tested in different climates, including environments with a high degree of humidity, before being used. All of our hardware is of marine quality and is electropolished, making the surface smooth and sterile. Essentially, no stone is left unturned in ensuring the production of durable, high-quality pieces.
How far does Tribù evolve with the trends?
We don’t follow trends, everything we do aligns with Tribù’s ethos of discreet luxury, subdued colours, simple design and an emphasis on technique. Because generally, the simpler the design, the more space the intricacies of craft and technique have to shine. We tend to rotate three natural, subtle colours; usually our fabrics are created in these tones but next year we’re launching some new colour fabrics. The company's aesthetic and design ethos, however, will always remain true to the brand's original heritage.
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