Dear Maria, Semrén & Månsson have been operating in Poland for more than 10 years. Please, introduce a little bit about the decision to open the first abroad offices. And why in Poland?
The Polish office was founded rather spontaneously. There was a Swedish developer active in Szczecin who knew Magnus and who had been working with Polish architects for a couple of years but missed the Swedish holistic approach and process. He begged for Semrén & Månsson to open an office in Szczecin and work on his projects. That is why we decided to open there. For many years the Polish office worked only locally in Szczecin with this, and a couple of other Swedish clients active in Szczecin. When I took over the responsibility for the Polish office, it was time to renew our strategy and broaden our services. We opened an additional office in Warsaw, and our Polish architects are now working not only in Poland with projects in Ukraine, Serbia, and other places. And of course, with our Swedish colleagues.
What are the features of Semrén & Månsson that keep the company in demand all these years?
We have a very simple but not less powerful business idea, and that is to make Swedish design adapted to local norms and standards. In Sweden, Swedish design doesn’t say anything of course, but abroad we fill this concept of Swedish design with the values that we appreciate, everything from a holistic approach, loyalty to the project, functionality, esthetics, ecological and social values. All in all, it is a design that is attractive and desired throughout the years it seems.
During the pandemic, when the world was shut down, a new office opened in Warsaw. This experience has been an important lesson for development in a crisis. We now face new challenges. And have opened a new office in Belgrade! In your opinion, what helped in that period, and what of these lessons can be applied to the present and future?
In a crisis, it is vital not to get paralyzed and simply wait for everything to become normal again before taking action. We need to keep moving and adapting to the current circumstances. In our world today, it is rather likely that the old normal will never come back. In every crisis, some opportunities and doors appear that one didn’t see before. I live by the motto that everything happens for a reason and that there are always things to learn and develop from what is happening – even when neither the reality that I would have wanted or dreamed of.
Please share the company’s plans for the near future.
This is the most difficult question of all, especially these days. Our strength is that we are constantly adapting and developing our plans – which has been particularly evident during the last tumultuous years.
In the near future, I plan on opening an office in Kyiv. We are already working with clients there, and it would be very nice to begin cooperating even more closely and having our own architects there. Furthermore, I see us developing our presence in the markets in the Balkan region.
Our mission to spread our values, especially regarding sustainable architecture, combined with our focus on functionality, human values, and advanced digital tools in the design process, makes us very valuable. Especially nowadays, when being careful with budgets and creating architecture that provides value for fewer finances is at the essence.