The company was set up as a woodworking shop in Zurich in 1889. It grew into an international group of companies over the course of many decades and specialises in furniture solutions for office, residential and commercial properties.
After the early death of the founder, Heinrich Girsberger, Wilhelm Girsberger continued to run the business from 1919. The company soon began to flourish. Gradually, the company expanded and relocated within Zurich.
Selected pieces of furniture document the passing of time – the design and development of our products are the core of our work.
1889 - Foundation and start-up period
Important markers in the initial phase
In the old days, a wide variety of turned items for everyday use were produced from wood to give them special, organic forms. Pieces of furniture were an essential aspect of this, and this was the way important design elements such as decorative individual components were made. Furniture production at Girsberger began with the manufacture of piano stools. The product range also included dining chairs with ornate features, which were popular during the start-up period.
The love of experimentation was initially based on practical considerations. A workshop stool, which was infinitely height-adjustable, was born out of these ideas in 1910. The first patent was thus registered – for an easy-to-operate mechanism allowing the seat‘s height to be quickly and infinitely adjusted.
The stool "Model 111" shown here was produced for 60 years until 1970. The production of the first office swivel chairs with targeted and movable lumbar support followed on from as early as 1912.
A new era began with the move from Zurich to Bützberg, where a new head office was built. State-of-the-art machinery in light-filled premises created the optimal prerequisites for modern working conditions, production methods and series production.
Office swivel chairs soon became the core business of the company. Many other forms of seating such as chairs, lounge furniture and steam-bent models were added to the range. The general thrust of design moved towards the Schweizerischer Werkbund (Swiss association of designers). Scandinavian influences came along later.
New materials and surface finishes were used in construction: metals, plastics, pressed wood fibre elements, flat iron, veneers, thermolacquering and chrome plating.
Looking beyond our borders
A partnership with Knoll International also brought international influences. Selected items of furniture – based on concepts by Florence Knoll and Eero Saarinen – were manufactured under licence for the European market.
International breakthrough as an office furniture manufacturer
The Girsberger product portfolio was expanded over time to include commercial property. Lounge furniture based on in-house designs – such as the "Modell 1600" chair – were added to the range and experienced great demand, not just at home but also abroad. This captured the spirit of the age.
The design brief for the "Eurochair 5600" was to be able to supply an unrivalled model in the middle price range. Fritz Makiol, the designer and head of product development at the time, scored a big hit by using the latest industrial production methods in conjunction with high-tech parts and unusual styling. Success was not long in coming, and it brought licence partners in various countries all the way to Japan. Internationalization was thus in full swing.
A whole series of different models was produced and marketed under the "Eurochair" name – all the way from desk chairs and executive chairs to lounge chairs. Architects such as Gerhard Schammer, Aksel Larson and Hans Olsen were responsible for the designs. The name became synonymous with further economic expansion.
From handmade piece to industrial product
Chairs have changed in the same way as the world of work has.
Seating made from wood was developed further and ranged from basic working chairs to desk chairs. Ergonomic features and increasingly elaborate mechanisms led to more complex production methods. Industrialised and hence more efficient methods allowed higher quantities to be produced and the company grew quickly as a result.
Simple working chair with basic ergonomic functions
Healthy and functional seating: "Eurochair 5600" model, a chair by Fritz Makiol that had all the features of a well-engineered office swivel chair
"Trilax" chair, also designed by Fritz Makiol, contained an innovative internationally patented triple-joint movement technology. It was the only office swivel chair in the world with supporting structures made of GMT (glass fibre reinforced thermoplastic) connecting the seat, lumbar and backrest. Trilax was an important part of the Girsberger product range for 29 years.
Although not yet 23 years old, Johann Heinrich Girsberger invested all his savings in setting up the "Drechslerei Heinrich Girsberger", a turner’s workshop in the Weinberg area of Zurich. He produced turnery ware such as embroidery frames, wooden bowls and lamp stands, followed by chairs and piano stools later on.
After moving several times within Zurich, there was no longer enough space to keep up with the firm's continual expansion. An unconventional search for inexpensive industrial land with good transport links ended in the municipality of Thunstetten-Bützberg. The whole business was relocated and almost all the employees followed the company to the canton of Berne.
The first foreign subsidiary came into being when Girsberger GmbH was established in Endingen am Kaiserstuhl in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Office and conference chairs, as well as lounge suites for reception areas, were made for the fast-growing market in the neighbouring country. The prime location on the Rhine axis also provided good conditions for further expansion into Europe.
A third production site was opened with the foundation of Tuna Girsberger Tic. AS in Istanbul, Turkey. Girsberger Holding AG holds 50% of shares in this joint venture, with the other 50% owned by the Tuna family. The company makes almost all the office seating in the Girsberger product range. In addition, model series specially designed for Turkey and the Gulf region are produced and distributed by TunaOfis. The production site is located in Silivri, the sales and showroom centres in Istanbul and Ankara.
Incorporation of the Aargau-based home furniture manufacturer and transfer of production to Bützberg. The foundation was thus laid for a new start in solid wood production with tables, chairs and benches. This gave rise to the Home division, now the Girsberger Home business unit.
A new building with reception area, showroom, product development and administration. The company's site in Bützberg has been dominated by this building ever since.
The third business unit was created with Girsberger Customized Solutions (now Customized Furniture). The high percentage of production work done in-house and the resulting flexibility enable Girsberger to produce customized furniture to the specific requirements of architects and designers.
Girsberger Customer Service became Service & Remanufacturing, now Girsberger Remanufacturing. The focus is on economic and environmental aspects: office chairs and furniture should not be simply thrown away and replaced, but remain in use for longer or even be upgraded by means of professional servicing and full restoration. An important contribution to sustainability.
The company, located in Seon, in the Swiss canton of Aargau, is run as a subsidiary of Girsberger Holding AG, with its own independent "Zoom by Mobimex" brand and its own collection of solid wood furniture.
A further business unit was created to meet the company's need for high-quality furniture wood. Girsberger manages timber stores in Bützberg and Koblenz with a total of 3,500 cubic metres of carefully dried wood from larch, oak, elm, walnut and cherry trees. Girsberger also supplies carpentry shops and factories throughout Europe from this outstanding selection of wood.
With the objective of establishing an additional manufacturing site in the area of solid wood production, a majority shareholding was acquired in Boreal doo in Rumska, Kraljevci, Serbia. The company is run as a subsidiary of Girsberger Holding AG.
Business measures are based on internal goals, strategic plans, good opportunities and growth and are taken in response to external factors, changing market situations and new market requirements. This is how it was in the past and how it will be in the future. Our business processes and units are therefore subject to constant change. We are well equipped and positioned for the future. We remain true to our love for good craftsmanship and the highest quality.