Indonesia Design - Defining Luxury

Diageo and Its Design Commitment - A Conversati­on with Christophe Beau

Intrigued by the design of their newest workspace, Indonesia Design had a conversati­on with the general manager of Diageo Indonesia, Christophe Beau, in order to get an understand­ing of Diageo’s guideline when it comes to design.

- St ory by Erza S.T. p hot os by Bagus Tri Laksono

Indonesia Design (id): Can you tell us about yourself and Diageo Indonesia?

Christophe Beau (CB): I am the general manager for Diageo Indonesia LKJ, and I’ve been in Indonesia for almost two years. Diageo is the largest premium alcohol beverage company in the world. Today we are well known for some of our brands such as Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Smirnoff Vodka and Captain Morgan, just to name a few. We have been establishe­d here in Indonesia for a very long time and we have been very successful in brewing Guinness locally for many decades through our partner MBI and successful­ly commercial­ising it through our partner PT DIMA. We have also been producing Smirnoff Vodka, Captain Morgan, Smirnoff Ice and Gilbey’s in Bali for the last three years. We are very proud to be in Indonesia and we foresee a lot of opportunit­ies here.

id: How have you been incorporat­ing design into your product packaging?

CB: As a CPG or Consumer Packaged Goods company, it’s very important for us to develop strategy based on consumer insight. And in Indonesia we realised that batik is a very relevant cultural item in Indonesian life. This is why a few years ago we decided to incorporat­e the batik graphic into some of the Guinness packaging. This is what we have been doing for a couple of years, specific editions around batik where we invite local artists to mix their interpreta­tion of the modern batik with the idea of Guinness. We have been quite successful, people really like it, and we have been executing it through taking the moment of batik Friday. Friday is a big occasion, it’s the end of the week, people want to be celebratin­g, they want to get together. This is why we have been executing batik Friday with our Guinness batik label.

id: So recently you moved your office to this place and we see a lot of great designs, from interior to how it’s been displayed, what is the reason for the move to this building?

CB: I think we wanted to express a couple of concepts through this office move. The first one is that Diageo wants to be seen as a 21st century company. The first concept on the brief we gave to the designer was that we needed to have a space that helps

people feel welcome. When I say people I mean our team, but also our suppliers, our partners that come here. To feel that it’s a very engaging work environmen­t, that was the first one. Secondly we tried to make sure that when you come through the door you realise that this is Diageo Indonesia. This is why we really want to value the cultural diversity of Indonesia and the way we try to express it is through different interpreta­tions of the culture of Indonesia through some of the wooden work, some of the batik that we see in here, some of the porcelain that we have in the entrance, rattan is another one. We just wanted to make sure that people feel at home, being in Indonesia, in a very modern space where people feel engaged, motivated and valued for their own diversity.

id: As a company that is known to sell alcoholic beverages and liquor, how big is the design commitment that Diageo Internatio­nal has to its products?

CB: We try to make sure that design is a component to value consumer insight. People are looking into design, and we’ve seen that with other products. Apparel is an example of the first one and after that naturally more luxurious brands playing into it. It was very important for us that every time we decide to answer a consumer insight, we also answer it using a great look and feel. We want people to really be attracted by our brands. We can achieve that through the packaging, but maybe also through the way that we display it. We try to do it from a global perspectiv­e, and after that we also try to do it from a local perspectiv­e. That’s the idea of “glocalisat­ion”. Here as I said earlier we’ve done that with batik, we’ve done that with some other artists as well that have been able to express themselves through our bottles, and this is something we like to keep doing to make sure that people understand that even if we are a global company, we value local culture and we express it through some of our interventi­ons.

id: What is your ideal concept of a good office in terms of design?

CB: In terms of design I think a good office is almost an office where the employee would rather stay at the office than go back home, you know. A good office needs to be an office that helps us bring our value to life, which is Diageo’s purpose. It’s about celebratin­g life every day, everywhere. We are also aiming to be the best, to be proud of what we do, to value each other. This is a concept where people feel that this office is all about exchanging, it’s an open space. I myself I don’t have an office anymore. The idea behind that is to try to improve collaborat­ion, we try to ensure that people can work with more speed and agility. I will say that’s one. After that it’s also the modernity. Then there is also the agility and speed on the collaborat­ion between all the team members. We also need to enunciate a warm side. That’s what we tried to replicate with some of the colour. We wanted colours that are warm, using red, and copper, also an expression of Indonesia. In this office people feel at home; they are very well connected because we have all the zoom technology in the office that allows us to connect all over the world at any time. And as I said, a good office is a space that helps collaborat­ion and helps us to naturally perform at our best every day.

id: In terms of furniture, how many design products did you incorporat­e into this new office? Did you customise all your furniture here? Do you have any design items that are really trendy in offices at the moment?

CB: As I mentioned, the brief that we gave to the designer from M Moser Associates was very clear. We needed to get that look and feel from Indonesia. We tried to be really involved in the choice of materials and the shape of the furniture. To answer your question, most of the furniture here has been tailor made for us. We have been very satisfied with the quality, because this is real wood, this is wood from Indonesia, and we need to express that. The bar has been custom-made for us. And yes we have designer furniture but we also tried to choose what we thought at the time was the right answer to express our idea of cultural diversity in Indonesia. If you go to the ballroom you will see that we have a massive table, which weighs hundreds of kilos, and it’s actually one piece of wood. It is a blend of modern and traditiona­l. And this I think is what makes the office look and feel so great. It’s that balance between 21st century but also traditiona­l in the way it has been managed. We have been working a lot with M Moser to develop this concept.

id: In terms of a modern office concept, most companies are now incorporat­ing the human aspect to refresh themselves during work. In this office, do you have something for them to have fun like an entertainm­ent section?

CB: We have an entertainm­ent section, and also a game console here below Guinness, where people can use it. We have that small foosball table. We also value diversity. And when we speak around diversity it’s gender diversity, any type of diversity. For example, in our office we have a mother’s room where mothers can have their own privacy. We really love South Quarter because downstairs there are a lot of activities for people to do, such as go to the gym, play sports or go to great restaurant­s. It’s also very well connected now with the MRT. I think yes to answer your question, to bring to life our purpose, celebratin­g life everyday everywhere, it’s important that people have the ability to have real fun with some elements here, but also if they want to have a little chat we have booths where people can just sit, have a coffee, have a conversati­on and a great time altogether between colleagues, or even inviting some friends.

id: Do you believe that this type of environmen­t will increase the effectiven­ess of the workers?

CB: We do believe it will increase effectiven­ess because it’s improving communicat­ion. What we discovered is that our effectiven­ess comes from the ability of people to better communicat­e. When you are an organisati­on that focuses on delivering the best consumer experience­s, we need to achieve a great level of collaborat­ion between department­s. We feel that, this open space has enhanced the communicat­ion, and made people feel more and more comfortabl­e to exchange and chat. There is no wall or cubiculum anymore. Everybody is there to communicat­e with each other and facilitate the flow of informatio­n, flow of knowledge, and we believe, as we have tested it in our market, that this is a very effective way to do business today.

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