Finding the perfect business partner is no easy task, and for Jerry Helling, president of Bernhardt Design, the search ended with Michael Plank, CEO of Italian furnishing manufacturer Plank. Earlier this month, the two brands announced the launch of their long-term partnership, Bernhardt Design + Plank, which makes Plank’s products and outdoor furnishings easily accessible in the North American market through a distribution agreement with Bernhardt Design.
“I have been searching for an appropriate European partner for a number of years and was unable find the perfect product fit and personal chemistry,” says Helling. “We have admired Plank for many years and when I heard Michael [Plank] might be open to a new relationship, I was sitting in his office the next week. In my view, this is the perfect partnership as we have the same company culture and a complementary approach to product.”
Plank, established in 1953 and known for collaborating with designers such as Konstantin Grcic, Naoto Fukasawa and Biagio Cisotti + Sandra Laube, offers a range of outdoor chairs, lounge seating, table systems, and stools suitable for commercial and residential spaces alike. “Plank products have a longevity to them; the designer plays a significant role in their decision-making,” adds Helling. “Michael Plank stays true to the vision of a product, even if that’s difficult, which is something I admire.”
Through the agreement, Bernhardt Design will fully support Plank’s legacy and identity, enabling the team to operate independently. “For an Italian design brand to still have a family dimension and a passion for hands-on committed product research and development, it was crucial to find a business partner for North America with a corresponding approach,” says Plank. “When I was introduced to Bernhardt Design, I had an immediate feeling of synergy and the impression of a principled, professional, strong, and quality organization.”
Bernhardt Design + Plank also offers an extensive Fast Track program, which makes possible two-week shipments on an array of seating and tables, as the exclusive distributor for Plank’s products in North America.