Furniture: Past, Present & what we can expect from the Industry going forward.
For the most part, we have all taken pieces of furniture for granted. This has increasingly become the case as we move forward from generation to generation. In today’s world, furniture is not exactly a buzzword, neither is it something that one would consider to be cutting edge but it certainly occupies a very unique place in our life.
First, a bit of a history lesson on Furniture, the first documented record of furniture being created and used by humans for added comfort & leisure (not making this up, this is exactly how it is defined) was during the neolithic period, between (5000-2500 BC).
Thereafter, several civilizations embraced the idea and all of them boast a strong heritage of carrying furniture as a “culture” and “symbol” of what their civilization was able to attain.
The Egyptian culture was at the forefront of this “furniture culture” followed by several civilizations in south eastern Asia – what is present day India & Pakistan & the Mayan Civilizations in the Americas.
Fast forward to the relatively modern times, especially to the time when Great Britan was all the rage and was at the peak of its glory. Industrialization in Britan coupled with raw skill from craftsmen that had been exported from other countries to Great Britain meant that the English come up with some great furniture pieces that was both durable and more importantly, prestigious.
During the peak of Great Britan’s glory, exquisite and artistic furniture also saw increasing interest. This is exactly the point in time when novel furniture types like Victorian furniture, distressed furniture, industrial furniture – all of them took birth.
Soon, this soft influence of Britan’s culture began spreading all across the globe & this meant that a few regions of the globe also began seeing blends of different types of furniture.
Take the middle east & north Africa for instance, due to historical trading relations with the rest of Asia, their furniture culture was heavily influenced by Mughal & traditional Indian architecture, when blended with the styles created in Britan, the middle eastern architecture took a completely unique positioning and gave birth to furniture types like ottomans, Morrocan furniture & Moorish furniture.
The fact that furniture historically represented a country’s culture + the influences the impact that other cultures have on them by way of economic or other interests are fairly clear.
Fast forward to today, and there have been more developments when it comes to how humanity perceives furniture.
The turn of the century (since 2000s) has seen furniture trends & tastes change completely, an increasingly globalised world sought to share a common design philosophy that represented a united and common goal of looking progressively. This gave birth to Modern & Contemporary furniture types that are sleek in design and that are also minimalist in nature.
Many home owners especially those that were more endorsing to the idea of a collective and progressive future resented the idea of having bulky furniture pieces lying around that represented some phony heritage of the past and instead looked towards getting furniture pieces that were strong, durable and one that could be moved around easily.
Since the last decade, something that wasn’t accomplished in centuries ago had increasingly become an inevitability. Our great strides in technological advancements slowly creeped into our relationship with furniture designs. Soon it became apparent that we are going to see a whole lot of furniture pieces that are symbolic of what we as humans can achieve and not what we had been in the past.
Hotels & Restaurants, in pursuit of granting additional comfort to their visitors and guests began integrating charging stations, plugs & lamps/reading lights to their restaurant furniture & hotel furniture pieces.
Gone are the days where a simple recliner was considered to be a luxury reserved only for the privileged elite, what came in was a chair that could completely substitute a masseuse.
That’s not to say that we have forgotten of our heritage in design philsophies, every country especially small clusters of interior designers and restro-pubs have embraced the idea of blending furniture that is sleek, minimal & easy to use in design & at the same time are also hand carved by skilled artisans and manufactured (sustainably) with the same traditional elements.
In fact, for every phony critic who cites instances where our tradition is being destroyed by modernity, there are two more instances where our culture, tastes and traditions creep into modern equipment and become something entirely unique, wholesome & stunning. Case in point: Traditional Wood finish on automobiles.
It will be very interesting to know what the future of furniture holds for us. As of now, It seems that are huge cutbacks when it comes to expenditure on any sort of furniture. Mainly due to three reasons.
- Hospitality industry has come to a standstill and from here on out, it will grow at a crawling pace only – This means restaurant furniture & hotel furniture has been affected too
- Working from home has caught on and has also proved to be an effective way to control P/L & has made employee satisfaction rather simple
- Uncertainty of the future has affected consumer spending too, Furniture purchases are something that can easily be placed in the back burner
On the plus side, there is no foreseeable future where we can expect to do without furniture altogether. It is something that will change but it will always be around.
Kevin Joseph is the head of digital & marketing initiatives at FurnitureRoots, he has a vast experience in dealing with restaurants & hotels for setting up their furniture across the globe
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