Szentendre has been and still is home to many Hungarian artists and craftsmen. This beautiful small town along the Danube – just a few miles away from Budapest – rightly calls itself the Pearl of the Danube. Besides its narrow streets and lovely atmosphere that residents and visitors love so much, the town seems to be awakening from its beauty sleep as more and more creative businesses operate from here. One of them is KAZA Concrete – the brain child of Jozsef (Joe) Meszaros and Peter Oszko. Both of them have been working day and night for the last 13 months to develop, fine tune and launch a business that will definitely make some noise and will turn heads in interior design & architecture circles.
KAZA Concrete offers individually designed, bespoke contemporary wall and floor cover tiles made of fine concrete that puts customization onto a completely different level in this market segment and opens new possibilities in interior design. Founders have developed a special, artistic technology that enables the creation of exceptional concrete tiles – also with patterns in 3D – as well as it provides a platform and meeting point for professionals and surface design enthusiasts to constantly add new tile designs to the KAZA Collection. Not only KAZA Concrete’s offering is unique, so is its business model, whereby the founders work closely with independent famous designers and emerging artists worldwide to create unique tile designs, who then in return continuously benefit from this colab based on the sales volume of their respective designs.
A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure to meet the managing director of KAZA Concrete, Joe Meszaros, in the company atelier & show room located downtown Szentendre to find out more about their business, their dreams and of course to see some of the designs. Joe’s warm welcome set the stage to a very pleasant and inspiring conversation that I am very happy to share:
Hungarian Success Stories (HSS): Where did the basic idea and the inspiration come from to start your own business in this segment?
Kaza Concrete, Joe Meszaros (JM): Coincidentally a while ago I came across a few fibre reinforced concrete products that inspired me to develop this category further. After an intensive research and development process we worked out a very promising brand concept, for which the natural beauty and versatile possibilities offered by redefined fine concrete served as a basis. Moreover, this new, functional and aesthetic concrete tile offering seemed to be an innovative solution manufactured with a special, patented molding method that has already been applied in other areas. We have added the crowdsourcing component to concept, whereby we offer an interesting cooperation option to tile and concrete panel designers worldwide, who equally benefit from the sales volume of their respective tile or panel designs.
Mystile™, a subbrand to KAZA Concrete, stands for custom-tailored, unique floor and wall cover solutions. The main brand KAZA Concrete unites all of our previous know-how and experiences by exploiting the potential of our creative community as well as by striving for a win-win solution for all parties involved. We envision KAZA Concrete as a company that operates goal-oriented, where design is the centerpiece of all our activities and is supported by refined Public Relations methods.
We also appreciate the trend that goes against global mass production and prefers locally manufactured, high-quality products that embody respect towards our environment, society and fellow citizens. This approach also reflects our company core values. In addition to the raw materials, the other overarching characteristic of the brand KAZA Concrete is determined by our quest to create new, visually pleasing and useful products, where we work with the best designers worldwide and making our offering accessible to a wide group of clients.
HSS: What is your vision and ultimate goal with KAZA Concrete?
JM: After having been in the advertising industry for many years, we both had the intention to lay the ground for a valuable and sustainable business, and to develop an esthetically pleasing offering. We were looking for something that we both can relate to, that is motivating and worth working for for many years to come. Our main goal was to create something that can be an exciting proposition to anyone given its uniqueness and novelty. I think we managed to unite all the above into KAZA Concrete. On the other hand, this is also an excellent project to prove ourselves and show that a great idea accompanied by persistence, professionalism and a flair for good taste can bring amazing results. If I could summarize it in a couple of words: we dared to dream big.
HSS: What type of clients and what kind of area did you think of, when you envisioned the concept of KAZA Concrete?
JM: First of all, we built the world of the KAZA Concrete around a concept that combines diverse aesthetic possibilities and high added value by the designers. As soon as we realized the huge potential given by Mystile™ tiles, we thought that involving independent designers from the very beginning would take the concept the furthest and this way everybody involved would get the highest benefit. Based on our renumeration scheme designers are able to generate continuous income for themselves and on top they also benefit from the visibility and recognition they receive by showing their designs on this new material.
Our concept is very flexible and will gradually expand over time with new contemporary designers. Our Bespoke Collection was created to serve the need of unique living spaces with one-of-a-kind design solutions in the B2B segment and for private clients. To top our offering off, we have a special arrangement with our designers, who are available on a one-on-one basis to design our clients’ dream wall or floor cover tiles.
HSS: What was the reaction like, when you contacted your future designers and explained them what you had in mind?
JM: We have invested a lot of time and effort into setting up our cooperation structure with our future partners that actually lays the foundation of our business. After we have demonstrated our proposal to a select group of designers, almost everyone of them created a special collection for us. They liked the idea of creating 3D designs very much, because this option was not available until now. The fact that they have a lot of freedom in terms of colors, available surfaces and an additional dimension made the cooperation even more exciting. Probably the most charming to them was that their designs will not stay in the virtual world, but people can marvel at their creations in real life, too.
HSS: How would you describe the reception of KAZA Concrete by the industry at the 100% Design exhibition in London where you debuted in September last year?
JM: During the exhibition we gained a lot experience and received first-hand feedback in terms of commercial viability of our concept and what else is still needed to successfully enter the market. After the exhibition we realized that our idea was not only unique but it also filled a gap in the market. Currently, our company is the only one that is able to produce high quality, individual concrete tiles in a very flexible cost- and energy-efficient way. The minimum order starts with only a couple of square meters of stylish tiles and we offer our products & services in an attractive price segment. As a result of the exhibition we already have a few ongoing projects – mainly in the hotel industry – with clients e.g. from Oman and China.
HSS: Can you please talk a little bit about the production process, how and where are the KAZA Concrete tiles manufactured at?
JM: On a monthly basis we plan to expand our offering by two new tile collections created by well respected designers and we offer our design and manufacturing services for individual projects. This means that based on a simple draft we can visualize our clients’ plans in 3D and if desired we manufacture samples, too. After receiving the order, we produce and professionally treat the concrete material in our own manufactory in Szentendre. When the order is completed we pack the concrete tiles carefully and have the shipment delivered to the given address. On average, an individually designed tile family can be manufactured within 10-12 weeks – and I think this is also very unique in the industry. In case of the Bespoke Collection, the minimum order is about 25 square meters of individually designed tiles. This opens totally new possibilities for interior designers, because until now this option with such a low minimum order and 100% custom-tailored service offering was non-existent on the market. Our mission now is to make interior designers aware of their new freedom in this area.
Also, I am very proud of the fact, that we were able to build up this business in my hometown, where I grew up, and with the support of local craftsmen and subcontractors we are able to offer an exciting proposition by adding value in the world of interior design and architecture.
HSS: What (geographic) markets are you targeting with your current offering?
JM: Our product & service concept, and the new dimension of our offering actually show us the way how we will develop our business the most efficiently and effectively. Our focus for now is London, as it houses the opinion leaders of the design industry and it is home to well-known architecture and interior design companies, too. However, the projects these companies execute can of course be found worldwide, but the conceptual and design phase take place in London.
Currently, we are negotiating with 2-3 high-end show rooms to establish potential partnerships. We have also been contacted by numerous companies from Australia, Spain, etc. inquiring about cooperation opportunities and we received excellent feedback from the local distributors of our designers who are also very interested in acting as business accelerators. Our business concept is crafted in a way that is beneficial to all involved parties. The challenge now is to channel all these opportunities and organically grow the business in line with our original goals.
One aspect I particularly adore about the approach of KAZA Concrete – besides their wonderful and innovative designs – is that it does not have dollar signs written all over it. Obviously, the ultimate goal is to build a profitable business offering visually pleasing, high quality wall and floor cover tiles in a scalable business setup – and so far they have done everything right. But! Words that I heard the most from Joe during our conversation were ‘partnership‘, ‘cooperation‘, ‘win-win situation‘, ‘long-term plans‘, ‘creating local jobs‘, etc. and this was truly refreshing. This is definitely a business with respectful, human-oriented and hard working owners, who probably will not mind being profitable earlier than planned … but they do not measure their success only in financial terms and are able to offer much more. I’ll definitely keep my fingers crossed for this business to succeed on a big scale – financially and morally alike.
Source of images: courtesy of KAZA Concrete.