Furniture of the Future

Anyone who is professionally involved with products around living and working has to constantly keep up with trends – and even better, shape trends themselves. What developments are influencing the furniture industry most strongly and what will people be looking for in the future?

THE BIG PICTURE As well as being a result of personal decisions, how people live and work is an expression of social and economic developments. So what are the biggest trends that we should be aware of?

Living is becoming more urban In a lot of markets, the influx of people into big cities continues – this is where the workplaces of the future will be. There are two significant consequences of this: the living space for each person continues to decrease; and, people are settling into this space for only a limited time. More and more people, therefore, are interested in “micro living” – that is, complete living solutions over a space of 20–30 square meters. To avoid this space feeling claustrophobic, the space is not divided up further as far as possible. This means, for example, that the kitchen no longer leads a niche existence and instead, is an integral part of the living situation. Elko Beeg sees an opportunity in this trend as “virtually the whole living space is opened up to manufacturers of kitchen furniture.”

Make way! It may be an unintentional counter movement to urban living, but outside the big cities, the available living space is being celebrated more strongly than ever. Where detached houses are renovated or redeveloped, walls are disappearing so that rooms are becoming larger and more generous. And those who are creating space in this way are also intentionally indulging in an interior design that underlines this new luxury of space. The boundaries between living areas are thus broken down, allowing the kitchen and dining area for example to flow smoothly into one another.

Back to nature Another advantage of living outside big cities is that you are closer to nature and may even have the luxury of your own garden. This own little piece of nature is becoming increasingly important, as also demonstrated by garden owners increasingly investing in high-quality outdoor furniture.

The new consumer Customers’ self-image is changing. For young people, property is no longer as important as it used to be. They know that you don’t necessarily have to own something to benefit from it. Renting, leasing, and sharing are therefore becoming more popular as an alternative to buying. What is particularly important for customers is that products and services should be customizable, sustainable, and healthy – and available quickly, as far as possible directly from the provider. Technical networking both enables and supports this development.

“With the label ‘Made in Germany’, furniture companies can set themselves apart from the competition and provide reasons for buying their furniture.”

Help in old age The demographic change in many markets is moving the focus to the needs of older people. With regard to living, their views are significantly different to those of younger people. And of course, senior citizens also need more help with everyday life. This help can be provided by relatives or care staff – but technology can also help.

The new style of working In many markets, the world of work is shaped by service careers. And in this area, standardized tasks are increasingly being taken over by computers. At the same time, the importance of teamwork and human creativity is growing. No wonder, says Michael Held: “The problems that companies have to deal with today can only be resolved in groups.” This type of work requires flexibility, mobility, and networking. And it only works when rigid structures in business – and in people’s heads – are overcome. It helps if working environments are individually adapted to the personal needs of employees.

TECHNOLOGY AND MATERIALS The trends identified have multiple effects on the properties of furniture

It’s the source that’s important When selecting materials, the focus is shifting to sustainability. Wood therefore remains a popular material in furniture manufacture, especially if the customer can be sure that it comes from sustainable sources. This is where furniture manufacturers could position themselves more strongly, thinks Matthias Pollmann. Young buyer groups in particular are interested in the source of furniture. “With the label ‘Made in Germany’, furniture companies can set themselves apart from the competition and provide reasons for buying their furniture.”

Healthy furniture The materials used should not be just produced sustainably, they should also be healthy. Anyone who can prove that their products are free of questionable substances can score points with consumers. Furniture can also be good for your health if it offers space for plants – people appreciate nature coming into indoor spaces. That can also offer practical benefits, for example when areas of moss on walls improve the climate in the room. At the same time, furniture is moving outside: the range and quality of offers for outdoor furniture are increasing.

SACHSENKÜCHEN Hans-Joachim Ebert GmbH is located near Dresden. The company has been building high-quality and innovative kitchen furniture for more than 100 years.

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