Grupa is Croatian design studio and manufacturer of quality handmade products focused on lighting design. After a decade of being successful and award-winning designers, in 2012, founders Tihana Taraba, Ivana Pavić and Filip Despot, decided to tell the other half of the story by becoming the manufacturers of their own products.

Today, Grupa is a showcase of everything that inspire them as designers, so every product the company presents on the market is designed and manufactured by Grupa. The company is proud that each one is carefully assembled by hand, ensuring that our lamps not only emit light, but also reflect the highest level of craftsmanship.

Grupa studio & showroom are located in the center of Zagreb, while the factory, warehouse and logistics office are in a small city of Zabok, 30km outside the Croatian capital.

Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the company?

GRUPA: As a design studio, we mostly provide furniture design for various international manufacturers. In that segment we have a regular collaboration with Croatian furniture brand Prostoria, for which we have designed several furniture collections such as Monk, 3angle, Tinker etc. We also do interior design and in this segment we mostly cooperate with the renown Croatian architecture studio 3LHD on various hotel projects. But still, we probably spend the most time designing and developing lighting collections for our own brand – Grupa.

As manufacturer, Grupa is primarily focused on lighting design with several small furniture accessories in our portfolio. Although we are a relatively young lighting brand, present on international market since 2015, we already have dealers and representatives on almost all continents, from North and South America, across Europe and Russia to Asia, Japan and Australia.  Still, our main export market is Europe, more specifically Scandinavia, where our Arigato collection is an absolute bestseller.

Our long term goal is to become a recognized and established boutique brand on international design market, guided by the principles of sustainable growth and responsible business oriented towards regional production and resources.

E.E: What’s the news for 2021 about new products?

GRUPA: As envisioned in our product development plan, every year we introduce new products or product variations to our existing collections and every 2 – 3 years we introduce a completely new product collection to the market.

In 2021, we are introducing a new line of products into our biggest Arigato collection called “Arigato 45 series”. Arigato 45 series is a continuation of our hugely successful Arigato collection, taking regular Arigato lamps (22cm lampshade) to a whole new level. With 45cm lampshade diameter, new 45 versions are addition to the existing Arigato Pendant Large, a model that first introduced the 45 shade. While retaining a distinctive design and Arigato build quality, Wall and Ceiling 45 also have longer arms (2x 70cm) and new, bigger and stronger joints. Thanks to their size, the Arigato 45 series bring even more functionality to the wide range of Arigato wall, floor, ceiling, pendant and table lamps.

This year, we will also be introducing new portable table lamp to our latest Igram collection as well as 2 new chandeliers to the beautiful Baluna collection. As for refreshing some of the older collections, we will be presenting new color options available for our modular pendant collection ILI ILI and new decorative bulbs for our oldest Model collection.

E.E: What are the ranges of products?

GRUPA: Since we are focused on lighting design, most of our product range consist of various floor, table, wall, ceiling and pendant lighting fixtures. Apart from that, we have some design accessories such as side tables in our portfolio with a tendency to further develop this assortment segment in the future.

As far as Grupa lighting assortment is concerned, we offer decorative lighting of minimalist design, which is distinguished by functionality, simplicity and high quality production where all our products are manufactured and assembled by hand in Croatia, EU.

Most of our products and collections are retrofit, meaning there is no integrated LED module but a classic lampholder (E27, E14, GU10 etc.) inside each fitting. Although we suggest and offer the optimal lightbulb for each of our lamps, the customer can always exchange it and use the bulb according to their specific preferences and demands.

E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active?

GRUPA: We are active worldwide and export to all continents, but due to the geographic location of Grupa, our primary export market is the European Union. Within the EU, our top markets are Scandinavia, France, Benelux, Germany and Poland.

We have noticed a certain sales decrease on some markets in 2020, due to the recent Covid pandemic, but in general we are very happy with our results in the past year. Since our business is very diversified among many different markets, our foundations are strong and even if some markets fail, others will compensate the potential deficit.

Considering market size and opportunities, we are also very happy with the sales results in Croatia, especially in the contract market segment. Contract market and projects are very important segment of our sales in general. We have furnished many hotels in Croatia and around the Europe and have worked with some of the leaders in the industry such as Hilton, Marriot, Nobu, Adriatic Luxury Hotels, Maistra etc..

As the Covid pandemic is slowly coming under control in Europe and the rest of the world, we are also noticing a trend of market recovery and return of the investments into our market segment. We hope for a complete recovery of the market over the next 12-16 months.

E.E: What are the most innovative products marketed?

GRUPA: Since we think of Grupa as a manufacturer of decorative lighting in the classical sense of the word, we express innovation primarily through the design and functionality of our products, and to a lesser extent through technology and new technological solutions.

For example, our ILI ILI collection, at the time of its creation in 2012, was a novelty on the market as a modular pendant lighting system in which the user creates the look of the finished product using the shapes and colors of the elements given to him. Because of its adaptability to customer needs, ILI ILI is today one of our most successful collections in the contract market segment. After Grupa, similar lighting systems have been introduced by some of the biggest lighting brands on the market.

Another example is our Igram lamp+table, a product that combines functionalities of both (floor) lamp and a side/coffee table. The rarity of such symbiosis was not enough for us, so we decided to up our game by introducing various table-top finishes, ranging from unique pieces of handcrafted glazed ceramics, black oak veneer and tempered glass available in many different color combinations.

But of course, we also pay attention to the new technology and new trends in lighting, so the latest addition to our Igram collection, the IG-PT, is a small portable table lamp, rechargeable via USB or wireless charging technology, with an integrated LED module and a touch-sensitive dimmer, suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.

E.E: What estimations do you have for 2021?

GRUPA: Although 2021 started off really great for Grupa and we aim to exceed last year’s sales results, we’re constantly working to strengthen our market position by opening new markets and, at the same time, expanding Grupa product range. This year we’re introducing several new products mention before in this interview, we will be launching new grupa.com website and also a new product catalogue. We’re also working on some new and exciting furniture designs for other brands. All in all, we look forward to the future and all that it brings.