Travel Debrief: Chicago, USA

Peter Kowalski, MD of Formfunc Studio, debriefs u|Chief on his recent trip to Chicago.


Peter Kowalski

Peter Kowalski, MD of Formfunc Studio,  travels internationally as the exclusive distributor in South Africa of the brand Humanscale. Humanscale is the premier designer and manufacturer of ergonomic products for a more comfortable workplace. Their award-winning ergonomic office solutions are designed to improve the health, efficiency, and quality of work life.


Tell us about your recent travels?

In the last year, I have travelled to Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Cologne, London and Chicago for sales meetings with my Humanscale country Manager counterparts. Sounds really boring but truthfully quite inspiring to hear what our colleagues are achieving in their respective markets – although there are some serious strategy discussions. It’s really festive and a great opportunity to bond with like-minded people.


What results did you achieve through this trip?

The trip to Chicago was meaningful in terms of building a relationship with the executive in the US. We presented a concept for a new factory facility that aims to be nett positive to the environment.


What other opportunities did you identify for yourself during the trip?

We received approval in principle from our partners, which means that we have the green light to develop a facility very unique to our industry, and one that will be an African first. These are exciting times as we have an opportunity to become pioneers for genuinely earth-friendly production in Africa!


What surprised you about the country during your visit?

It was not my first time in the US, but it still knocks me to see how the US lives in excess – everything is supersize!


What do the locals do that you feel people in other countries could benefit from knowing?

Our Partners, Humanscale, announced their intention to become a nett positive (to the environment) global business. It’s an industry first and it’s fascinating listening to the team promoting the idea that “sustainability” as we all understand it, is a bad word. It’s really forward thinking stuff as what we are currently preaching globally is about doing less bad which, ultimately, means that we’re still doing bad things to the environment and that’s not genuinely sustainable in the long run.


Any fun memories?

Sitting next to a 65-year-old retiree on an Amtrak train from Chicago to Washington. He had no idea where South Africa was!


Where do you plan to travel to next?

Nairobi – we are opening a new branch office in East Africa to strengthen our export opportunities from the Cape Town-based factory.