Belgian Innovates Comfort in Dalingshan

Eight years ago, at the age of 24, Bram Vandendriessche came to China. After working for the family business in Belgium—a furniture company called Medalounger—his dad asked him to work at their Dongguan factory for two months to implement new procedures, oversee quality control, and gain experience in the manufacturing process.

Bram quickly fell in love with furniture making and was fond of the exciting life around him, so he decided to stick around for longer. “I’m not the kind of guy to be in a fixed rhythm; I like it when the day is unpredictable,” he explained. With his newfound love for a daily challenge, he asked his dad for a permanent position at the factory in China. “As a father, I think you’d be happy if you have a factory across the world, to have somebody there that you can trust.”

Although being the boss’s son, Bram did not immediately jump into a leadership role. Instead, he started by doing quality control and product development at the Dongguan factory.

“Until I was 18 years old, I said I wouldn’t join the family business,” he recalled. “I think it was mainly because my dad was working a lot.” His perspective changed quickly after high school when he started working for his dad. By being in a work environment, Bram strongly believes that he learned more this way rather than attending university.

Growing up in a famous furniture family in Belgium, Bram remembers the vivid presence of the business during his childhood. “Until I was about 14 years old, we were living next to one of our shops… we literally had a door between our house and the shop. As kids, we went to the warehouse, helped clean the warehouse, and helped load trucks. On the weekends, we were helping at the shops.”

Since arriving in China, Bram has come a long way in terms of growing his family business and building his own career path. Today, he’s the factory CEO of Up2Date Medalounger, leading all aspects of product research and development, manufacturing and distribution. Besides producing high-quality upholstery furniture for clients across the world, he started a new, modern recliner product line called Modulax in 2019, which he envisioned and developed in-house. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, this new brand boosted their business and drove sales up. He keeps his enthusiasm high by being hands-on at work. “It’s quite fun to be involved in many different departments and to work with highly skilled people. The variation makes it fun to come to work.”

Modulax’s furniture combines comfort-focused innovation and modern designs, which are not easy to achieve simultaneously. However, Bram was insistent on maintaining both aspects when creating and manufacturing the products. “I don’t really like to compromise on either one of them [comfort and design], so there’s a big challenge. In my opinion, a designer needs to balance comfort and looks. We make products that look good and are comfortable at the same time.”