Courtesy BuzziSpace

In 2007, commercial furniture manufacturer BuzziSpace burst onto the design scene with its proprietary textile, BuzziFelt, made entirely from 100 percent upcycled plastic bottle waste. Within the same year, the Antwerp, Belgium–based company began offering acoustic mitigation products such as felt panels for wall and ceiling applications, as well as office partitions. The company’s offerings continued to expand further each year to include workspace furniture systems, lighting, and outdoor furniture—nearly all of which feature BuzziFelt.

From Oct. 24–26, BuzziSpace celebrated its 10th anniversary by hosting over 200 architects, designers, and journalists from around the world for an international press event in Antwerp. The trip included tours of the company’s main headquarters, city headquarters, and manufacturing facility. The event’s theme, “10 years of happiness at work,” was emphasized throughout these extensive tours, showcasing BuzziSpace products being used and integrated in its own work environments. ARCHITECT spoke with BuzziSpace founder and CEO Steve Symons about the company culture, sustainable manufacturing, and the future of office space design.

ARCHITECT: Tell us about your company culture and work spaces.
Steve Symons: When I started [BuzziSpace] 10 years ago, I always followed the wisdom of [my employees], and I think that’s how you can attract good people [into your business]. I like good design, and I like to be in a healthy space. [Many] employers want to take the money home and build a big house for themselves, but I wanted our offices to be as [comfortable] as possible for everybody.

We [employ] a lot of young people, and they bring a lot of energy—a lot of ideas. But then we also have people that are older than I am, who bring their own wisdom. It’s a very good match because both have a voice, both can teach something to the other, and that’s exactly what makes our company so strong because we are—maybe it’s cliché—but one big happy family.

Why do you think office environments are becoming more like residential spaces?
I remember when people started making the move to work from home—to a home office. And from day one, I knew it would not work, because people are not meant to be working at home. There is always something [to distract them]. People need other people [around them]—not to control themselves, but because they want to feel like a part of something. It’s a positive pressure.

What trends do you see emerging in the contract furniture industry?
Good question. I see less individual desks. Anything can replace it. There is, in fact, no office anymore—the office is over. And that’s where [BuzziSpace] comes in: We bring in solutions for the non-office. The lines [between] office furniture and residential furniture [are gone].

What product categories do you see Buzzispace expanding into or further?
In the last two years, we have heavily invested in lighting in terms of product development for the future. So now we have about eight people that came from Philips [Lighting]. On the other hand, we also invested a lot in acoustics again and will be developing new products. We always try to refine existing products.

Does the company have plans to further its sustainable manufacturing practices?
We try to find a system, because at the end of [the product’s] life cycle, we can either upcycle an existing product, or take it back. Since we have only existed for 10 years, I think even the first products are still in very good shape. But I think now is time for us to start recycling [products at the end of their life cycle]. We are currently working on a strategy, and it will take two to five years to deploy it.

This article has been edited and condensed for clarification.