German furniture, proudly made in Cebu
- Joy Angelica Subido, Joy Angelica Subido Karla Alindahao () - August 14, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Sleek, stylish, sturdy and smart. These are only a few adjectives to describe German furniture maker Dedon, with headquarters in Luneberg, Germany. And while international designers like Richard Frinier, Frank Ligthart, Nicolas Thomkins, Philippe Starck and Jean-Marie Massaud created originals for the brand, the actual pieces for distribution worldwide are painstakingly crafted in Cebu, Philippines.

“You could say that this is a German brand with Filipino DNA,” says Dedon CEO and managing partner Herve Lampert. Although the company recognizes local talent, no Filipino, as yet, has designed for the brand. This is mainly due to the fact that local designers usually work independently and have their own production lines.

Dedon currently distributes furniture to over 80 countries. Each piece is a handmade original that integrates the centuries-old art of weaving with a totally new kind of fiber. This is what sets it apart. The brand makes use of a polyethylene-based and highly durable synthetic fabric that is woven into high-grade, corrosion-resistant aluminum frames. Absolutely weatherproof, the material can easily handle extreme temperatures, as well as sun, rain or snow. The fabric is impervious to both salt water and chlorinated pool water; remains stable and colorfast, and will not sag. Cleaning is a simple matter of hosing down the pieces with a power washer. Undoubtedly, durability is a key feature and Dedon clients can expect to enjoy their furniture for many years.

The story of the brand began in 1990. Twenty-six-year-old Bayern Munich professional football player Bobby Dekeyser lay injured in a hospital bed, and, while watching television, learned that he was cut from the team. It was this that sparked his resolve to put up a business venture and become successful in an entirely new field.

From selling hand-painted skis to raffia giraffes, Dekeyser also joined trade fairs where he met a producer from Cebu.

Dekeyser made a decision to invest in “outdoor living room” in 1993, and in 1998 Los Angeles-based “King of Outdoor Furniture” Richard Frinier started creating collections for Dedon. There was no turning back after that. Accolades for the brand include the British Interior Design Association’s “Award for Outstanding Design,” and the “Red Dot Design Award,” one of Europe’s most important design prizes. The manufacturing facility has expanded so that the company currently has a 3,500-strong combined workforce of regular and contractual employees.

Current interest in the outdoors contributes to the popularity of the brand. “We innovate to bring the indoor feeling to the outdoors,” said Dedon technical director Vince Lampert at a tour of the manufacturing facility in Mandaue City. “The company philosophy is to achieve harmony between nature and our work. Dedon fabric is made from material that is environmentally friendly, and safe for food packaging or children’s toys. It does not pollute groundwater and is 100-percent recyclable.”

“Our company founder Bobby Dekeyser is a firm believer that only a satisfied employee can create a comfortable chair,” continues Vince. Because of this, there is constant effort to promote a harmonious relationship with employees by striving for the best working conditions and providing various incentives. A joint venture with the Don Bosco Technology Center trains weavers, while welders are taught precise welding techniques. Quality control measures are so stringent that each chair leaving the factory has a unique serial number. “You know exactly where the chair goes,” says Vince. 

“Creating a lifestyle piece is really a labor of love,” adds Herve. “It takes passion from highly creative people to create the product.” Complicated designs can take as much as 150 man-hours to weave.” 

As expected, there is a high demand for Dedon’s products abroad. But it is precisely because of this that the principals did not think of making it available locally.

That was until four years ago when Ferdinand “Ferdie” Ong of Living Innovations Corporation approached them. “I tried it and I wanted to sell it,” says the general manager of the company that carries upscale design brands. “It took two years to make me the local dealer.” But he believes that it is well worth the wait. “Dedon is more than a product. It is an experience suited for a design-educated clientele.”

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Dedon is available at Living Innovations, 2nd floor, Makati Shangri-la Arcade, Makati City. Call 830-2230 and 812-2649. Log on to their website at

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