Alki was created in 1981 in the rural and non-industrial environment of Itsasu, a small Basque Country village nestling in the Pyrenean foothills. The cooperative emerged thanks to five friends who joined forces to create jobs in the area. Alki means "chair" in the Basque language. Right from the very start, Alki focused on traditional furniture, mostly for the French market.
Things were not easy at the beginning; in 1984 a fire destroyed part of the production workshop. All the cooperative members rolled up their sleeves and set about reconstructing the building, making it even bigger and better than before.
The level of requirement put in to working the wood, the quality of our materials and the launching of a series of collections enabled us to quickly position Alki as a reference in the traditional French furniture sector. More experienced craftsmen were taken on to keep up with the increasing demand to reach a total of fifteen skilled journeymen.
In the mid-1990s, Spain, Portugal and Italy saw their currency devalued and from that moment on the main distributors of classic furniture turned to these countries for their supplies. The French furniture sector began to suffer from the consequences of this strong competition.
In order to cope with the crisis facing traditional furniture, we identified the necessity of differentiating our offering and so we started combining woodwork with wrought iron. The Biarritz range saw the light of day and was met with resounding success, enabling us to maintain our position in the market for the next few years.
The traditional furniture sector continued to decline sharply. Peio Uhalde, Alki's Chairman, was increasingly preoccupied with the company's critical position and decided to contact the industrial designer Jean Louis Iratzoki: a working relationship began that would see the company steer its production towards new markets.
The Emea collection resulted from the first collaboration with Jean Louis Iratzoki: the solid wood furniture perfectly highlights the expertise of Alki's master craftsmen. The collection drew a great deal of attention when it was presented at the Maison&Objet trade fair in Paris. The Laia and Kuskoa collections then followed, clearly showing Alki's new direction.
The real transformation occurred thanks to the in-depth work of a united team. Going beyond the product itself, we developed a project pivoted on the brand that is deeply rooted in our values and ideas. By reflecting together on this project, we have enabled Alki to reinvent itself day after day.
Under the artistic direction of Jean Louis Iratzoki, new product ranges were developed with designers Samuel Accoceberry and Patrick Norguet. Our creations, to which it is so easy to be emotionally attached, combined oak and natural wools. They began to be seen as a source of reference in the contemporary furniture market.
Today, Alki has negotiated the bend in the road and its change of direction is truly consolidated. The conviviality expressed by our products is appreciated in all four corners of the world. Alki furnishes not only contemporary houses, traditional apartments, the MuCEM restaurant in Marseille, the Louis Vuitton Foundation and the offices of Quiksilver.