t is not often that one finds a spirit that breezes optimism and focused passion in spite of rejection, failure and hardship. But it all comes in one natural package in Robert Dekeyser, affectionately known as Bobby by his friends. Ironically enough, the Dedon outdoor furniture brand was born in 1990 while Dekeyser was confined indoors on a hospital bed, knocked out of action as a goalkeeper for FC Bayern Munich by an elbow blow to his face. During the two weeks he was recuperating, he found through the newspapers that the German soccer club had unceremoniously replaced him. Out of a job and pondering his next step, Dekeyser, who was then 26 years old, decided from that moment on, he would play by his own rules. “At that point I came from a one-dimensional world of soccer where all we were programmed to do was to be good in the game, be healthy and win, win, win. When I had the accident, I came out of the system. I created a new world where I could do nice things with wonderful people. I wanted to create an atmosphere where people like to come to work and can create beautiful ideas,” says the debonair entrepreneur who has a soft-spoken charm about him. Although the open-air living room concept was in its infancy, and the synthetic fibre Dekeyser developed with his uncle, a plastic extrusion expert, was one of its kind in the world, it took nearly 10 years before Dedon achieved any real success. “Maybe we were too young, so it took a long time to be successful,” muses Dekeyser. “But even though it was difficult, the atmosphere was great. The passion of the people to create something really nice and beautiful kept us motivated.”
FOOTBALL TO FURNISHING
Dekeyser was signed as a goalkeeper for Bayern Munich when he was 19. However, a facial injury put an end to his hopes of venturing further into the field.
One of Dedon’s most outstanding designs, the Nestrest was launched in 2010 to wide acclaim. The large strips used in the weaving help to put the otherwise bulky looking hanging sofa into an endearing proportion. As its name suggests, the Nestrest was inspired by the shape of a bird’s nest.
COMING OF AGE