Traditionally, furniture design has always been a high craft requiring master designers to spend ample amount of time on developing joinery details, sourcing the best materials, and the applying period-appropriate ornamentation and final finishing. Each of the pieces was unique and embodied the character and personality of its patron.
It was a labour and detail intensive process undertaken by only the most skilled craftsmen, requiring them to devote a lengthy amount of time on each piece. These furniture items were designed to last a lifetime and more, passed down generations, and some cases have become family heirlooms. These aspects of furniture design made it highly expensive and out of reach for the commoners, a true sign of ultimate luxury.
All this changed after the advent of the industrial revolution and even more so after WWII when expansion and rebuilding at a rapid pace became the need of the hour. Newer technologies in joinery design were developed, metal forging become scalable and financially feasible, cheaper alternatives to traditional solid wood became the norm. Functionality was traded for ornamentation, the production time was reduced from months to mere hours, cookie-cutter blocks of furniture were churned out each one the same as other giving birth to an entire industry of ‘Big Furniture’.
Today, however it is a very fast-paced industry and its market is saturated with countless such manufacturers, local and global. You have giants like IKEA, Walmart, Target, etc. expanding their global reach. Rapid development in CAD technology has reduced the amount of time required to produce designs with a greater level of precision and accuracy than ever before. The explosive influence of social media on the industry makes new trends speedily appear and disappear.
This has made it extremely difficult for small to medium-size manufacturers to compete in the ever-changing market always flooded with fast-fading trends. As big furniture has leveraged its advantage of using technology and scale to flood the market, smaller businesses have used an advantage they have themselves. Instead of trying to capture the market with scale, many have gone against the grain by focussing on bespoke designs, quality over quantity!
Bespoke vs Mass Produced
This approach of quality over quantity has allowed small to medium-size manufacturers and designers to capitalise a market which had been swarmed by substandard products made by the means of economies of scale. This has allowed bringing the focus back to the detail-oriented nature of the craft, and more and more buyers are willing to invest in this aspect as the general awareness grows.
The biggest value add for the buyers is the entire experience of bespoke design. For today’s buyers choosing bespoke furniture is about more than simply making a statement, it is about investing for the future. And while trends continually keep evolving the one thing that hasn’t changed over the past few decades is the desire for a great looking home, with an impactful interior.