Stephanie de Brauw | Studio Manager
Reinventing yourself to be future-proof! That is what working at Ahrend is like, according to Stephanie de Brauw. In her dual role as Manager Studio & Intermediaries, she is responsible for all interior designers and architects, and for contact and proactive partnership with intermediaries.
What was your first introduction to Ahrend?
That was more than twelve years ago, although on the other side of the table. Two years ago we started talking about the future of Ahrend, and then I eventually made the move. The connection and affinity was always there. The craft, new products, the fact that it is a family business that has been around for so long; I just love that! Plus, in today's changing world it is remarkable that we are continuing to innovate in the broadest sense.
If someone asks about your job, how would you respond?
When I mention that I work at Ahrend, sometimes I notice that the image of the former Ahrend, the multi binders and files, is still lingering. In those situations, I like to explain then is that the old Ahrend is no longer the Ahrend of today. We are working hard, especially with a new generation of people, to create a more modern image.
That is also our challenge. Continuously informing that new generation, in important positions, what Ahrend is doing nowadays. Developments are fast paced and to respond to these with new, high-quality, circular products; yes, that takes time. And that creates an interesting area of tension. We are all about office design and fit-out, but we do everything to make life easier for our customers throughout the entire process. We make the designs ourselves, we supply furniture, but we also advise on important aspects such as acoustics, WELL and vitality.
‘We make the designs ourselves, we supply furniture, but we also advise on important aspects such as acoustics, WELL and vitality.’
How does the studio contribute to a vital working environment?
We continuously try to establish a deeper connection with our customers. By having conversations with them, but also with the employees, to talk about their needs. We do everything to create a vitalising office environment. Selling furniture is one thing, but if that does not contribute to the goals and success of the organisation, or to the employees′ happiness in their job; then you′re missing the point. The successes we achieve in doing these projects is contagious, almost addictive!
Bottomline: On the one hand by proactively coming up with ideas about products that support vitalising workspaces. On the other hand, our core business is designing workspaces. We aim to look at vitality, at how you get the best from your employees, how to retain talented people and how to achieve all that could be expected from a good employer. All elements that are important to our customer are included in a beautiful, creative design that fits the future vision and DNA of their organisation.
‘All elements that are important to our customer are included in a beautiful, creative design that fits the future vision and DNA of their organisation.’
When do you feel proud of your work?
I am very proud of my team, following the pandemic, they are solid as a rock and stronger than ever. We have worked hard on cooperation within the team, and working with other departments, by daring to be vulnerable. If you want to improve, you′ll need to get feedback. We started thinking differently, by looking at the value we are adding and at the talents we possess.
And that effort is paying off. For example, we have developed a new service, we updated and improved products, we have won new contracts purely by relying on our own strengths, and we have achieved all our targets! All in all, so many achievements for which we are really thankful. In 2023, we will continue to build on our services, and positioning the studio. Besides, we will be taking strategic steps in our partnerships with real estate companies and external architects.
What makes your job unique?
I′m working for an organisation that is constantly changing and many things are happening. When you work at Ahrend, it means that you have to reinvent yourself continuously in order to be future-proof. After all, standing still is moving backwards!
Also, it is very unique that we get to work for so many great clients and great companies and, in the process, get to take a look behind the scenes. Sometimes we can even create a full customer journey. Starting with questions like: Where are you now? Where do you want to go? And for your destination: How can we help you get there?