Arco is a Dutch family business currently run by a fourth-generation member of the Van Ast family. In fact, one of the company’s employees is celebrating his fiftieth year working for the furniture manufacturer this year. Despite its long history, however, Arco still continues to be innovative. And that's something even Apple has noticed.
The Van Ast family settled in Winterswijk in 1902. Father Wouter worked for the Royal Constabulary, but after a horse-riding accident he was forced to find a different job. In 1904, he opened a shop that sold books, frames and records, and he founded NV Van Ast Lijstenfabriek & Glashandel a few years later. After some time, Wouter’s sons Nico and Arie took over the business. After splitting it into two parts in the middle of the Second World War, Nico took charge of the frame making and glass trading part, while Arie opened a furniture factory next door. He called the factory Arco, based on his first and middle names: Arend Cornelis.
In 1967, both companies welcomed a new employee: Willem ‘Wim’ van Ast, the grandson of Wouter van Ast, who, together with this brother Wout, was going to help the company grow significantly over the years to come. In the same year, Nico Bouwhuis started working as a jack-of-all-trades at the frame maker's, which was run by Gerrit van Ast at the time. Several years later, Wim and Wout took over the frame maker's from their cousin Gerrit.
Essenza celebrates its 18th anniversary
Now, fifty years later, both Wim and Nico still work at Arco. Nowadays the company is run by Jorre van Ast, a fourth generation van Ast. We will be celebrating the company's amazing anniversary until 31st March 2018 with a special price for Nico's favourite table, the Essenza. This elegant piece of furniture – made from solid wood –, was designed by Wim 18 years ago.
During the recently held IMM Cologne – a major furniture trade fair –, Arco presented a new XL-version of the Essenza in the company's own showroom in Design Post Köln, opposite the eastern entrance of the exhibition. They also showed a number of new creations to the general public, including a Re-Edition of the round compact Diabolo table by Arnold Merckx and a new armchair and chair from the Close product family by Icelandic designer Gudmundur Ludvik.
Arco + Apple
The Essenza recently proved itself to be a furniture classic by convincing US tech giant Apple of Arco's expertise. In April, around 14 000 Apple employees will be moving to a recently built new office. 13 000 contractors worked on this spaceship-shaped building, which cost around $ 5 billion, for over 3 years. The cost includes the purchase of new furniture, part of which comes directly from Europe.
After being thoroughly convinced by a test order of 100 Essenza tables, Apple ordered 500 Pod Islands, weighing 300 kg each. The Pod Islands are a new and exclusive design that was realised in collaboration with the architectural firm that designed the campus. The top of the 5.5 metre long table is made of a single piece of German wood, while every piece is made by hand in Winterswijk, the Netherlands. Apple will be placing the Pods in the communal spaces so employees can use them for holding meetings, having a bite to eat, or brainstorming.