Rising interest in sustainability among furniture manufacturers and consumers


  • Design
  • Wednesday, 15 Jul 2020

Plenty of manufacturers have been producing environmentally friendly furniture for a long time, but until recently, sustainability wasn't a major selling point. Photos: dpa

Looking for a new desk, bed frame or wardrobe, but don’t want to let down Greta? Sustainability is becoming more and more fashionable in the furnishing industry, where it's finally getting easier to buy tables and chairs without a bad conscience.

Plenty of manufactures have been producing environmentally friendly furniture for a long time, but until recently, sustainability wasn't a major selling point.

And just as in the food industry, organic and environmentally conscious has traditionally meant more expensive.

But all of this is changing, says Ursula Geismann from the Association of the German Furniture Industry, and consumers’ interest in sustainable furniture is increasing.

"People are aware that they also have to do something, not just governments and NGOs," says the furniture expert. She therefore believes that sustainability will be privatised in the future.

This new development is bringing new materials, shapes and colours with it, and the use of wooden surfaces in furniture will certainly increase, for example. While this material was always important, Geissmann expects this to only increase from 2020 onwards.Wooden high-tech furniture: Many manufacturers rely on wood and incorporate the latest technologies like sockets, USB ports and  wireless charging stations for mobile phones.Wooden high-tech furniture: Many manufacturers rely on wood and incorporate the latest technologies like sockets, USB ports and wireless charging stations for mobile phones.

Shapes and colours will also symbolically reflect sustainability, according to Markus Majerus, a specialist in Europe's furniture industry. He predicts a lot of soft beige, light brown and blue for the future.

"I also expect a tendency towards minimalism, as we will certainly see less luxurious furniture."

Wooden designs are particularly associated with products from Scandinavia. But another country is up-and-coming as a design inspiration: Japan.

However, Majerus doesn’t expect exact replicas of Japanese design to flood European or other markets.

"Designers will only make use of the purist and minimalist forms and combine them with the warmth emanating from Scandinavian design."

While manufacturers have grown more conscious of environmental concerns, that's not the only thing they've become aware of.

Until now, making furniture for the elderly hasn’t been exactly considered trendy, and few manufacturers focused on age-appropriate products in a sleek, modern design.

But today, designers are increasingly working on products like adjustable armchairs and higher bed frames.

These developments take time, however, and Geismann says that manufacturers have only recently begun to put more thought into the design of age-appropriate furniture. – dpa

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