How was Cunera founded?
André Toonen: “Well, that’s some time ago! Cunera has been around since 1870. From the very beginning, the company focused on coconut runners and carpets. My father took over the company at some point. In the difficult years of the previous economic crisis we were able to distinguish ourselves by using natural materials such as coconut and sisal. In the mid-eighties of the last century, consumers increasingly opted for natural materials. This was the result of increasing environmental awareness. The concept of sustainability wasn’t around yet at the time, but these days you can see it everywhere.”
What characterises your company?
“We always aim to be innovative. You should always strive to be a trendsetter. For example, we recently invented carpets that are reversible, our so-called metamorphic carpets. We noticed there are a lot of people – especially women (they are the decision-makers in the home) – who enjoy giving their room a regular update. In a ‘flip of a carpet’, you can create a whole new atmosphere in your home.”
What are the benefits of carpet compared to wood or stone?
“Mainly warmth and comfort, also for young children and pets. Contrary to what most people think, carpet floors are better for allergy sufferers. With smooth floors, more dust floats through the home than with upholstered floors that minimise this effect. Dust and other floating particles are absorbed by carpets and can be easily removed with a vacuum cleaner. Moreover, these days people prefer their floors to make as little noise as possible, which naturally benefits the carpet market.”
What does sustainability mean to you?
“For me, sustainability means that products are not harmful to our world and that residual products can be reused. Raw materials should be biodegradable. I believe this is the essence of sustainability.”
What does the future of the profession look like?
“In the future, we will increasingly focus on the online world. Mainly in order to attract young people, who are much less interested in visiting physical stores. They prefer to order their products online in front of their computer. Or they’ll contact us directly together with a stylist or interior designer.”