After years of slow progress, 2020 could be the year that sustainability finally catches on in the furniture industry, according to industry experts involved with the recent IMM furniture trade show held in Cologne, Germany.
Many manufacturers have offered sustainable products for a long time, but until now sustainability hasn’t been a selling point in itself. Sustainable furniture was more expensive than average, making it a luxury for most consumers.
But interest in sustainability is growing rapidly, thanks to movements like Fridays for Future, according to Ursula Geismann of the Association of the German Furniture Industry (VDM).
“People know that it’s not just governments and NGOs that have to do something – they have to do something themselves, ” she says.
“My theory is that we will experience a phase in which sustainability will become more personal.”
Ahead of the show in Cologne, Geismann asked VDM member companies what they were planning to exhibit. The verdict: “Wood is experiencing a renaissance.”
Interest in sustainability is growing rapidly, as seen by this wooden table and chairs at the trade show.
Trend analyst Gabriela Kaiser agrees. “The trend towards wood will really take off in 2020, ” she says. Furniture that might have previously had only small wooden parts will increasingly bear more visible wood, such as sofas with a wooden back panel. And: “Wooden armrests are a completely new trend.”
The design language of furniture and home decor colours will also reflect sustainability, says Markus Majerus, a spokesman for IMM Cologne, held last month.
“We will see lots of soft beige and light brown. Blue is also a huge theme, ” Kaiser adds. “I also expect a clear trend towards minimalism – we will see less opulent furniture.”
Designs in natural tones and a clear trend towards minimalism are also going to be popular this year.
The minimalist styles of Scandinavia and Japan will provide inspiration here, Majerus says.
“The designers will use the purist and minimalist design language combined with the warmth that Scandinavian design radiates.”
More than ever before, furniture designers are also looking at furniture suitable for ageing consumers, such as adjustable armchairs or beds.
Until now, designing furniture for senior citizens was considered unsexy: A designer who specialised in this area could not, it was assumed, also be trendy.
Trend analyst Gabriela Kaiser says: ‘Wooden armrest is a completely new trend.’
“Things are now slowly turning around, ” Geismann says. Companies are making accessible furniture more attractive. “People have finally realised that taste doesn’t suddenly change at 70.”
This new generation of furniture for older people is designed with comfort and luxury in mind. “It’s certainly something that will interest many generations, ” Geismann says. After all, who wouldn’t appreciate a stylish armchair or a sofa that can be brought into a comfortable reclining position at the touch of a button? – dpa/Smone A. Mayer