The week that was…12-16th March 2017
Vienna, Weekend 17-18th March 2018
This weekend my blog is coming to you from Vienna in Austria. I am here with my team in the lead up to L&B that is starting from this Sunday. As we have done in the past, we tag one or two factory visits to our L&B schedule and this time we decided to visit the XAL factories in Graz and Slovenia, with Vienna as our port of call prior to Frankfurt.
Designers from our Perth, Jakarta and Singapore office convened in Frankfurt from where we took a connecting flight to Vienna mid-week. Once in Vienna we joined an international group of about 40 people, a mix of XAL suppliers , interiors designers, architects and of course lighting designers from countries as diverse as India, Indonesia, Singapore, China and South America.
No update on PLDC this week, we will catch up at L&B next week.
Vienna, XAL and Zaha Hadid
Our first stop in Vienna was to visit some of the XAL projects in the city with as highlight the Zaha Hadid designed main campus building at the University of Economics and Business. The masterplan had called for different architects to design different zones at the university campus and the result is a very interesting mix of architectures. A professional architectural guide provide historical and architectural background information about the campus with the XAL boys providing the lighting input. Later in the evening, those who were not too much affected by jetlag enjoyed a tour of the historic ancient city centre. Having never been to Vienna before (yes. unbelievable I know) I really enjoyed the majestic palaces, museums and historic buildings, most of them beautifully and tastefully lit. The history drips from the buildings…you can just imagine how it would have been centuries ago, certainly when you hear the horse and carriages click-clack on the cobble stones. Many of the historic architectural buildings, though oozing a distinct different feel, certainly reminded me of my beloved Paris.
Graz, XAL head quarters
The next morning we departed early for our 2 hour bus trip to Graz where we were warmly welcomed by the XAL team. We toured the premises that now mostly functions as the head office with the sales, design and development team, together with the technical testing and measuring labs. All testing and certification of light fixtures I understood is done in-house. In the afternoon we engaged in a lively presentation of both the XAL products as well as the Wevre & Ducre range, now also part of the XAL family. The Nano series particularly are a very interesting product development excelling in its compactness, miniaturisation and versatility. XAL’s strength typically are in the corporate, commercial retail and lifestyle applications. One of the main reasons for choosing to do this trip to XAL is to get a first-hand touch and feel of the product capabilities as till recently we had not used much of them in our specifications. It is often about what and who you know and I believe that this trip will reinforce our knowledge and confidence in this brand. Establishing a direct relationship with the team behind the product is critical to our success.
On my question whether XAL is moving into the future in terms of controls and smart systems I was pleased to see that their Zigbee driven infra-structure is taking shape most promisingly. With KLD’s drive towards LDoT an important development for us to note.
In the evening we adjourned to a winery for an increasingly joyous dinner and wine tasting. We certainly could not fault XAL on their hospitality! Luckily the bus driver did not drink…😊
XAL Manufacturing, Murska Sobota, Slovenia
Our last day was reserved for the main factory about an hour’s drive from Graz just over the border in Slovenia. Government incentives and other tax breaks had lured the family company to establish the manufacturing there and after the latest expansion that started operation last year, XAl can now boost about an 11,000m2 production facility. With a double digit yearly growth the companies turnover last year reached about 115 Million Euro’s, quite an achievement. With the latest robotics warehousing and component storage, top of the range machinery and powder coating/ painting facilities the factory looked everything you would expect from this high quality brand. With personal explanations from the factory manager himself we got a close up understanding on how products are manufactured, treated and assembled. Amazing that up to 3000 to 4000 different product variants are being produced every month…
A big thank you to the XAL team led by Xavier Nieto, for going out of the way to make this visit meaningful. It certainly was for my team…
Next week, Light & Build!