Muebles Atlantis for home comfort
For some time now, we have been hearing about smart homes or the “homes of the future,” as some refer to them. Today, technological advances have allowed for such comfort levels, but these realities are still far removed from Cuban daily life.
However, one private Cuban initiative has begun to make inroads into this field with its products: Muebles Atlantis. Yes, you read that right, Cuba is also producing intelligent furniture, through which you can control your television, lighting, air conditioning, among other household appliances.
Behind this novel proposal is Yusef García López, a young Social Communications graduate, who by chance one day found himself designing and manufacturing furniture.
With no prior sector experience, but through much effort and study, Yusef managed to transform the small business he inherited from a cousin into a renowned and highly demanded enterprise, under the name of Muebles Atlantis.
“The business emerged in 2013, and since then we have been dedicated to producing modern, minimalist furniture,” Yusef explains.
The firm’s name was inspired by his son, and seemed an excellent idea, as it broke with the common tradition among private businesses which bear the names of their owners.
Muebles Atlantis has significantly grown under Yusef’s leadership, moving from a small business that sold less than a dozen pieces of furniture per month, to a consolidated enterprise, with more than 40 employees, two highly prestigious stores in the Cuban capital, and extremely popular among its clients.
We visited No.55 Reina Street, between Ángeles and Águila Streets, to learn more about Yusef’s business, and how he has managed to make his furniture store a place where the most diverse tastes and demands are satisfied.
What furniture lines does Muebles Atlantis produce?
“We have several lines: children’s, office, lobby, private business, bedroom, and lounge and household furniture; but we also work on an individual basis with each customer, and adjust to their tastes and conditions, so that our products are likewise personalized,” he notes.
What are the main materials you work with?
“We work with high quality vinyl, leather and fabrics, chenilles, microfibers. We also design on the basis of a health book on ergonomics, seated furniture postures, appropriate fabrics that don’t damage the skin; and we choose materials according to those rules,” Yusef explains.
What do you take into account when designing furniture?
“When making a purchase, Cubans consider the climate, but also who they have at home; if they have children they tend to opt for leather furniture, due to its durability. The most popular items are small format, as the majority of Cuban living rooms are small,” he states.
Explain how the smart furniture works?
“We are now making smart furniture. We joined up with Data Plus, a firm that brings smart software to furniture. Through a tablet that is inserted into the piece of furniture itself, customers can, from the comfort of their sofa for example, control the lights, television, air conditioners. The tablet can also be removed from the furniture and used to control appliances from other spaces. It’s an initiative that has become very popular recently.”
Is it difficult to access the raw materials to maintain stable production levels?
“Raw materials are sometimes scarce, but it’s not too difficult to secure them because we are a sector that finds all it needs to produce in Cuban stores. At times we have difficulty finding certain fabric colors, but generally we are lucky enough to have a fairly stable market,” Yusef explains.
What is the key to Muebles Atlantis’ success?
“When I started the business, I had recently arrived from Canada, where I took a course in business management, and I immediately wanted to apply everything I had learned, but it was difficult for employees to assimilate the work dynamics that I was proposing. Then I passed the CubaEmprende course, and I adopted as a working policy that all those who began to work in Muebles Atlantis also pass that course, so that we’re all speaking the same language.
“And I think that’s the key to our success; that we are all a big family that speaks the same language, and we have very clear work dynamics,” he stresses.
The growing number of clients, as well as the awards and recognitions won in different spaces, attest to Muebles Atlantis’ quality. For example, for two consecutive years, the enterprise has won the Popularity Prize at the CubaEmprende fair.
“For us it was a pleasant surprise, and being the public’s preference is possible thanks to the team we have managed to form.”
Presently, Yusef and his team are working to open a branch in the central region of the country.
“We have a long-term vision and we want to continue to expand; we will shortly be opening a store in Trinidad, as we have clients throughout Cuba, which is why we want to take the business to the interior of the country; and later we intend to open another store in Camagüey.”