Today, there is more to the humble chair or sofa than meets the eye, in the rush to keep up with modern trends and style.
--BY MUNA SUNUWAR
Two quintessential qualities of furniture - creating an aesthetically pleasing ambience if placed creatively and facilitating daily human activities to the level of comfort- are what have made it so dear to people.
With the changing times and the growing popularity for apartments and housing units in Nepal, people are starting to furnish their homes and offices in a more modern style. The growing size of the furniture market clearly indicates this sway. “The current size of the Nepali furniture market is Rs 50 billion and the annual demand growth rate at 10 percent. I saw an enormous scope for furniture business in Nepal and entered the furniture business with a core focus on modern design sofas,” shares Lokendra Badu, founder of Furniture Hub, a Kathmandu-based furniture store.
When people enter a room, the first thing they notice is the furniture. People try to furnish their houses with visually appealing furniture to create an attractive ambience. “Nowadays, furniture is taken as a style statement. The focus is on the look, design and the superior finishing. Consumers are influenced by fashion and lifestyle magazines and blogs and are investing in the latest interior design styles,” says Priyanka Rajbhandari, assistant marketing manager at Index Furniture Nepal, a franchise of the Thailand-based Index Living Mall.
Furniture no longer confines itself to traditional feature when it was used for a single purpose. Today, demand for modern furniture with multi-purpose features carrying a style statement has increased. Yet, people still like to keep it simple. For that reason, modern furnishing in recent years has been incorporating principles of minimalistic design to create simple yet stylish looks. A simple fact that simplicity never fades is applicable to the world of furniture, too, as the minimalist design in modern furniture is attracting more and more Nepali buyers. “With the changes in perception about the concept of home and lifestyle, the furniture market is witnessing a change in buying patterns too,” mentions Rajbhandari.
Modern furniture design puts an emphasis on space rather than sculptures. Furniture with minimal design makes the room look spacious and helps to create a modern vibe. “Anything that has the word ‘modern’ as its prefix is generally loved by all. People are also inclined towards an artistic look but nowadays they are more fascinated by modern design,” states Aashish Syangtan, marketing executive of Furniture Land, a Nepali furniture and decor franchise which has stores in Kathmandu and Pokhara.
How the furniture is laid out can determine the layout of a home or office. While a fine finishing in furniture contributes to the constructive side of people, placing the right furniture in the right place makes the entire space look good. Modern furniture makes sure that the area is simple, neat and uncongested.
“Due to limitation of space in urban living settings and the high cost for artistic styled furnishings, more people are attracted towards modern styled furniture. They add an aesthetic element to any dull interior space,” says Shekhar Agarwal, CEO of Happy Bean Bags Nepal, a bean bag manufacturing and retailing company. His company has been manufacturing high quality bean bags in 14 different designs in a range of colours and fabric options and has a weekly production capacity of 500 units.
Modern furniture stands out from normal design furniture for its peculiarly crafted designs. The popularity of furniture with minimalist design is increasing as it makes the home decor appear more elegant. In modern furniture, there are few visible artworks, yet the simplicity reflected in the design not only screams modernity but is also a crowd puller. And it is cheaper than artistic styled designs that require a lot of hard work.
“While modern furniture has always been in demand in Nepal, it is now growing at a rapid pace,” opines Syangtan. As more and more Nepalis are travelling abroad today, it has exposed them to various furniture designs. Rajbhandari says, “Such exposure is one of the many reasons that have led to the increase in demand for modern furniture.”
Understanding the demand and changing lifestyles, furniture stores are upgrading the way they provide services to their customers. In today’s busy lifestyle consumers want more convenient ways to get service. To help buyers make a decision, Index Furniture, for example, has a 3D designing service that enables consumers to see their chosen furniture in a layout that resembles their homes or offices. “We recently launched our website which helps customers browse a range of furniture designs and styles,” shares Rajbhandari.
Different customer segments have different preference for furniture and it is usually the young generation which has a fetish for modern furniture. “Usually, consumers belonging to the age-group of 20-40 are attracted to modern furniture as they are more conscious about home or office decor,” says Badu. According to Agarwal, the millenials are pushing this forward and most of their customers for bean bags include the tech savvy, ultra trendy and the go crowd who are actively seeking a change from the traditional lifestyle.
“Our store has product portfolios for the middle and upper class customers while our pricing is the same as the industry average,” mentions Rajbhandari, adding that Index Furniture Nepal also provides a wide range of modern office furniture and a variety of home decorative items to complement modern interior designs.
The prices vary according to designs of furniture and stores. Furniture Hub, for instance, has been producing premium modern sectional, budget sofas and the classic-looking Dewan sofas. “The price of sofa ranges from Rs 25,000 to Rs 91,000 at our store,” says Badu.
According to Syangtan, the price of modern furniture of renowned brands starts from Rs 75,000 in Furniture Land. Similarly, Happy Bean Bags Nepal also has been distributing custom bean bags on order at a price range of Rs 3,900 to Rs 25,000.
Most of the modern furnishings come with a ready-to-assemble feature. They can be arranged and rearranged according to the need of the users. Retailers say that the ease in dismantling, transportation and reassembly has been the key unique selling point for modern furniture brands.
Owning modern furniture for comfort has increased the demand for furniture which is particularly designed for comfort. Consumers have a fetish for bean bags due to its unique and comfortable design. “The ergonomic nature of bean bags makes them a super comfortable option for consumers who have to spend hours in sitting and lounging,” says Agarwal. According to Agarwal, the product is inexpensive, light in weight and easy to move to any part of the house.
Having carried the ethos of modernity, modern furniture designs have changed so much over the years. Syangtan claims that though today’s furniture may be influenced by modern trends, it will still have classic shapes engraved in it, without people even knowing it. “The best thing about such a combination is that people will still have the best of both– the attributes of what is trending and the influence of past furniture designs.”