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Thinking inside the box
Posted By Susan De La Fuente On August 16, 2009 @ 12:00 am In | No Comments
The Hebrew word “krooom” may be the equivalent of “vrooom,” the sound an engine makes when it’s revving up. Since 2006, Israeli start-up Krooom has been “vrooming” away and churning out a new age concept – eco-friendly furniture fashioned from reinforced corrugated cardboard.
Krooom’s innovative products contain at least 60 percent recycled paper and cardboard. And the recycled items are themselves fully recyclable at the end of their lives.
The list of Krooom’s aesthetic, brightly colored pieces, designed for do-it-yourself assembly includes bookcases, shelf units, file cabinets, a modular magazine rack, a dual-purpose stool cum storage unit, a child’s table with chairs that dovetail neatly inside and a fetching dollhouse in candy colors.
The cardboard medium lends itself happily to glossy, eye-catching graphics. And these grant the products versatility, novelty value and customer appeal.
While cardboard may not immediately strike you as a particularly sturdy material, bear in mind that cardboard cartons are used to package extremely heavy appliances. In any case, Krooom claims to have overcome the hurdles of its strength and impact resistance.
New heights for cardboard
Krooom’s founder and chief design officer Nitzan Bertele, an architect by profession, says that the material has come a long way. “The challenge we faced was to bring cardboard to a level where it can compete with similar products from plastic and wood at the mass retail level,” Bertele tells ISRAEL21c.
“After we managed to maximize the qualities of the cardboard to become a high quality product, we created many new items, some by demand of our retailers. I see cardboard as the ideal platform for design. There are two patents pending on the techniques of producing and assembling our products. By now, our products can enter almost any market, becoming a fashionable item.”
According to the company, Kroom’s advantages are that the products are fully foldable and stored in convenient flat packages. NTR (No Tools Required) assembly is video-guided, with no glue needed. Rivets that resemble thumbtacks are used to attach one section or layer neatly to another and no raw cardboard edges are visible after assembly.
Not only is the furniture decorated with original, colorful graphics, but its high gloss lamination is moisture resistant. Products are tested for impact and stability and are sold at competitive prices.
Kroom focuses on high volume retailing. The Krooom team is led by CEO Asaf Ariel, who has extensive experience selling to mass retailers worldwide. In addition to an accounting background, Ariel has many years of marketing expertise involving the export of consumer goods from China to the US, Europe, South America and Israel.
Mass retail outlets include Target and Barnes & Noble
The company has representatives in the US, Australia and in some European countries and sells its products in the US (notably to Target and Barnes & Noble), Australia, France, Germany and Scandinavia.
Krooom recently moved to new offices in the Bnei-Brak industrial area near Tel-Aviv in order to expand its design and R&D center, which has a fulltime staff of eight. All industrial, graphic and packaging design is in-house.
Manufacturing, however, takes place in Shekou, Southern China. Of the six employees working in China and Hong Kong, some are local professionals in the cardboard industry and others are native Israelis. At the overseas facility in China, Krooom’s staff is responsible for all production and quality control. The products undergo rigorous quality control testing in their final stages.
Krooom’s market niche at present concentrates on children’s and office furniture, promotional items and gifts, storage units and bookcases for home-offices and college students.
“We brought in a new concept, we are penetrating all sorts of markets, and once we do that we will keep refreshing them on a seasonal basis with new designs and products,” says Bertele.
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