Meet our planning team
Delivering a personal service
Our planning team is formed of an eclectic group of individuals. They are united in aiming to make each customer’s experience as smooth and enjoyable as possible. You will have your own dedicated planner wherever you are in the world.
Ali enjoys his days as a planner, designing just exactly what customers need. For him it is creative work in the broadest and best sense. He came to us from a career in the shipping industry. Lockdown, unexpectedly, became a time to think about life changes. His father (a long–standing Vitsœ customer) saw we were recruiting, and suggested Ali apply. Initially the design aspect of working at Vitsœ was the attraction. But representing the ‘modesty’ of the Vitsœ ethos quickly became its own joy.
Ali is a people person. He likes to talk (for England, he says). He is, well, interested. His family moved to London, England, from Cape Town, South Africa, in 1996. He admits he is a Camden ‘type of kid’ – he likes bikes, designing ‘stuff’ in Adobe, 35mm film, music (vinyl, of course) and painting. Much of it accompanied by his perky Springer Spaniel Huey – named after Huey Newton, the Minister of Defence for the Black Panthers.
Andrew, born and brought up on the Isle of Man, recently spent five years working for Vitsœ in New York. He also travelled across the United States, visiting as many states as he could. It is a country he has long found fascinating.
We first met Andrew when he was working in an Apple Store in 2012, shortly after he had left university, and he has been with us ever since. He studied politics but now thinks that perhaps he had a near miss, not working in that area. He says his reason to join Vitsœ was “completely an ethos-led decision.”
Now based in London, Andrew likes to track down interesting furniture for his home. A Danish table here, some G-Plan chairs there. That’s about getting a bargain and consuming consciously. Otherwise, he enjoys cooking (he made his own wedding cake) and exploring the results of the micro-breweries popping up in his home borough of Walthamstow.
Marie was born and grew up in France. She moved to the UK in 2015. As a resident of Royal Leamington Spa, she watched Vitsœ’s production building being built and was curious. She visited, and has worked for us ever since. She came to us with many years of customer service under her belt – after business school and managing shops. Marie finds her work / life balance is, these days, balanced.
Marie says her young family now feels more British than French. When she asks her children a question in French, they answer in English. Marie’s weekends are when she bakes. She does admit to missing specialist French cooking ingredients a little, especially when making croissants from scratch. She also has a famous chocolate cake she takes as a treat for colleagues, when visiting our London shop.
Having studied Architecture Part 1 in Lincoln, England, Matthew graduated to the sound of the financial crash of 2008 and a dearth of architecture jobs. He decided to go travelling instead. He then spent a decade or so planning bespoke travel tours before coming to Vitsœ in 2021.
Matthew is now commuting the dream. He has a ten-minute cycle ride to work in Royal Leamington Spa, replacing ten years of driving for an hour in the car, each way. Change has been good. He has recently sold his car.
As a man well-travelled, Matthew’s favourite places are where he can be outdoors most of the time. He likes the big outdoors with big scenery: New Zealand, Canada, Scandinavia. He also likes to take in an architecture exhibition or two, on shorter day trips to London.
Moving around was the norm for Merle, growing up. Her family lived in China, Bulgaria, Croatia and Spain – moving with her mother’s work for the Goethe-Institut cultural association. Studying was what originally brought Merle to UK shores: first architecture, then interior architecture & design in Birmingham and Bournemouth. Happily, Merle found herself immersed in design again when she joined Vitsœ in 2018.
Merle has a way with languages (and cats) which, added to her design background, was always going to make her a good planner. She gained her American accent whilst attending international schools in different countries but is yet to visit the United States.
She still likes to travel when she can and has Iceland and ‘Route 66’ on her list. But Merle doesn’t really want to move again, which is good because she finds it hard to throw away books, particularly her collection of cosy crime novels.
Nicholas saw (and admired) the Dieter Rams exhibition ‘Less and More’ at London’s Design Museum in 2009, whilst still at university studying interior and spatial design. And then he saw a job advert for Vitsœ. He put the two together and the rest is history.
A planner to his bones, Nicholas also keeps an eye on our internal processes from a customer perspective. He helps keep things consistent across planning jobs large and small, wherever our customers find themselves in need of help.
Outside work, Nicholas can be found doing major DIY in his 1950s house. And he’s slowly furnishing it with canny second-hand buys. Having just bagged a set of Eames chairs and an Eames elephant (for his young son, he insists), next on his list is a Jacob Jensen designed record player by Bang & Olufsen. The rare version, with its stylus.
Robin likes nothing more than to leave his computer behind and connect with people (old-school style) on the telephone. For him, customers make his job – and the 606 system – more interesting. On a recent site-visit, Robin’s hot-orange Onitsuka Tiger trainers were a talking point before he’d even stepped over the doorstep. He appreciates the conversations and the chance encounters of his work.
A customer before he worked for us, he was hooked (Robin remembers) from that first conversation with a Vitsœ planner. He had been looking for work he could settle into long term. He has been with us since 2012.
Having trained as a fine artist, Robin can often be found in front of a canvas; either at home painting (on the abstract side of things) or taking advantage of the plethora of galleries in London. He particularly likes art that is “not easy”.
Sophie’s Vitsœ life started on a graduate placement in 2017 and she remembers liking her potential colleagues (“just interesting people”) best of all. She was studying graphic design, yet much preferred the hand-making side of things: screen and letterpress printing. Nowadays, a part of her job she relishes is meeting a variety of creative customers. Although she often won’t know what her customers do until the end of a planning job, nice surprises sometimes come to the fore.
Sophie still draws and printmakes at home, her subjects very often inspired by nature. Which is no surprise as she lives the life bucolic in the English countryside. She likes to garden, too. She will totally forget everything for a few hours whilst pottering. Headphones on, hands deep in the soil. Or she might choose a new-ish book to read (for free) from the book exchange in an old red telephone box in her village.
Yukari trained as an architect, but she wasn’t sure – when she finished – if it was still the career for her. She decided to travel, to seek adventure instead. Coming to the UK to study English, she worked in a few different jobs (from shoes to Selfridges department store) until she was introduced to Vitsœ.
Yukari works with UK and international customers. But in particular she looks after those speaking Japanese. She enjoys being inspired by customers, learning more about them. The occasional (real life) visit to our London shop by an international customer, being able to meet them in person, is always special, she notes.
Yukari likes the fact that her job requires her to find her way around parts of London she might never otherwise have found. Travelling the city helps her spy out new shops, restaurants and cafes to partake of. Life meets work meets life, if you will.
Berthold is a consummate traveller - useful in his work, spreading the word as our Vitsœ envoy. He originally studied architecture and practiced for over 12 years. He then moved into specifying architectural hardware. Berthold finds door handles beautiful.
After visiting our Leamington Spa production building and catching the Vitsœ bug, Berthold came to work with us in 2020. It was important to him to be working with a company that shared his passion for authenticity and honesty of construction. All of his experience in architecture comes to the fore when he is opening new doors for Vitsœ.
Berthold lives within easy reach of countryside, accessed by his beloved bike in just a few minutes. He takes that bike with him everywhere and anywhere. When travelling for work, Berthold likes to fit in a bit of architecture spotting. He is hoping to tick off a few Norman Foster buildings on his next visit to the UK.
A product designer by training, David made furniture – conceptual and functional, but all about the ideas – before he joined us at Vitsœ in 2017. He has previously worked in an art gallery too.
David really values working in a non-traditional sales role, in which he has the time to build relationships (which often become friendships) with his customers. His favourite planning jobs are simply the ones where people come back. He enjoys working with customers over time, as they gradually add to their systems. Sometimes one e-track and one shelf at a time.
Away from work, David likes doing the nature thing: hiking and climbing in the mountains. Equally, he likes doing the art thing, going to museums and seeing contemporary art in galleries. These hobbies have been put (temporarily) on hold, as he and his wife have just started a family.
A cabinetmaker who worked at a furniture company in Munich for 15 years, Mirko knows his dovetail from his rabbet joints.
Mirko has been with us since the opening of our shop on Türkenstraße, Munich, in 2014, where working on a Saturday is one of his happy places. The gentle push and pull of people browsing, the conversations, the shared enthusiasms. He also enjoys working in a historical space – the shop had a previous life as an arts bookshop.
Inevitably (it seems, at Vitsœ) Mirko is a cyclist: on city streets, up mountain tracks. But he enjoys the bustle of walking his city after hours too. For gallery openings, trips to the theatre, or just flaneuring. Perhaps his favourite thing is listening to live jazz improvisation. He likes an unexpected aural outcome.
Susanne trained to be a fashion designer in Los Angeles (drawn to clothing after knitting as a small child, for herself and her toys) and then worked in design management for many years. Returning to Munich, she worked a variety of jobs, including design forecasting, before joining us in 2018. She was ready to work for a company selling products that were 60 years old, as far from fashion as you can get in a design product.
At heart, Susanne is an organiser, of systems and people. She can often be heard asking the questions: How does it work? Why do you do it like that? She loves travelling – all over – to see friends and family, and to take in cities and their architecture. When at home, she can be found listening to audio books and knitting. She admits to having too many balls of yarn.
Growing up bi-lingual with Dutch and German parents, Tanja picked up several more languages whilst living abroad. She trained in interior design and civic architecture, before working in Taipei, Singapore and Hong Kong for some 15 years. On returning to Germany in 2016 she experienced a little culture shock.
Tanja has been with Vitsœ since 2017. She was initially a customer before joining us. She likes the ethos of ‘slow’ planning at Vitsœ, where she can connect to people and spend time helping them get the best furniture for their needs.
Living in the tropics and missing German bread, Tanja taught herself to bake and ended up running a small bakery as a sideline. She is passionate about honestly grown and made food. From her home in the 1972 Olympic Village in Munich she cooks and bakes serious things, like pasta and pizza, from scratch. And bread of course.
Annie, originally from California, is now almost officially a New Yorker. Her studies originally brought her to the city. During a design-class she visited Vitsœ’s shop and heard our managing director, Mark Adams, giving a talk. A post-graduation job – working events in a local restaurant – kept us in her purview. Three years later she joined us.
Annie is drawn to design thinking and creative problem-solving. She especially likes working with people planning 606 systems for their kitchens. Her “absolute joy” is cooking, so bringing life and work together in this way is a sweet spot in her working week.
And when cooking she likes to try all sorts of cuisines - French, Italian, Asian. She has a growing collection of cookbooks, happily sitting on her shelves.
Before joining us, John worked in many different spheres: from hosting a weekly radio show and blog focused on art & design to working in furniture restoration and a brush with fashion. For John, what brought all his work together – and tunes his past work into his present – was learning to understand why people make things the way they do. It isn’t so surprising, then, to hear he studied philosophy at college.
Outside work, John is a keen pool player, although he endeavours not to take it too seriously. And he collects music (on vinyl and cassette). Though with “just a few hundred” records, he’s aware some music-minded customers might consider him a bit of a lightweight.
Every day, Josh travels to work hoping to meet someone with a new problem for him to solve. He particularly likes planning for challenging or weird spaces that require him to get his head down and be technical.
Josh studied mechanical engineering at college – but would study architecture, given those years again. He is something of a raconteur when it comes to design – studying and writing about architecture, interiors and graphics. And he enjoys acting as an informal interior-design consultant for friends, helping them pull their environments together.
An avid reader, Josh’s library spans “architecture & design, fiction, non-fiction, science-fiction … everything”. If not reading, he’ll be found walking New York, spotting buildings he hasn’t noticed before. Serendipitously, on one of these walks he found a bucket full of discarded 1957 Auböck Maestro cutlery, which he joyfully polished and re-homed.
Mike is happy to report that, whilst the job of a Vitsœ planner might look black & white on paper, no two days are the same. Or rather, everything is the same but also quite different, “and that is what keeps it interesting.” The strength of the team and going to customer’s houses are highlights for him: “Suddenly standing on the 60th floor of a skyscraper looking out at a view of New York you wouldn’t otherwise see.”
He had somewhat of an experiential journey prior to working with us – via a liberal-arts degree and a stint bike-messaging, before several years in IT followed by a job at a popular cycle-wear company. It left him with a “mixed bag of skills” that we fully appreciate.
Mike has always been personally interested in design. He particularly appreciates post-modern architecture: works by the likes of Michael Graves, whose work resonates with him as accessible, simplified and playful.
Rob moved to New York from Rhode Island after graduating in architecture; fully expecting to take up the discipline. But he found himself drawn towards smaller-scale design objects, leading to a job at the seminal New York design shop, Moss.
He has been working with Vitsœ, in one way or another, for many years. Initially at Moss – where he first sold our 606 shelving system – and then working in our New York shop, before moving to Los Angeles to run our west-coast operations.
Rob is currently the ‘custodian’ of a mid-century modern house in LA’s Crestwood Hills, designed by A. Quincy Jones in 1949, and built using concrete (amongst other materials). Rob has become obsessed with the material, and is now producing his own cast-concrete sculptural work. This connects to a part of himself he let go of when he left architecture behind. The house is full of 606 shelving, books and Lego – the latter owned by his two small boys (but Rob admits he often plays with it too).
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