Danish furniture was highly regarded in the twentieth century for its craft in wood. Beech, birch, pine, and white oak were abundantly available and used to make furniture for years. In the 1960s, the quality of Danish furniture inspired industrial companies to sustain a high standard of design in their products. Fritz Hansen, PP Mobler, and Rud. Rasmussen of Copenhagen achieved high standards in production (Figures 9.24, 9.25, and 9.26). Although Finland is technically not a Scandinavian country, it is culturally and socially considered
Scandinavian. The Finnish company Artek, located in Helsinki, helped to promote Scandinavian design throughout the world with the fabrication and distribution of the furnishings designed by Alvar Aalto and other notable Finnish designers.
Scandinavian furn... >
Milan, Italy, is home to thousands of designers engaged in architecture, interior design, and industrial design. Most are trained as architects. The Politecnico di Milano has nearly 15,000 students of architecture within its seven-year curriculum; and of the nearly 4,000 first-year students, 1,000 choose to pursue furniture, industrial design, and interior design as a focal track within the culture and curriculum of architecture. Many of these students will design furniture, and some will fabricate. Most will develop careers within related professional tracks while maintaining their affinity to, interest in, and passion for furniture design.
Milan is home to over 30 international journals that focus on furniture design in both theme and content... >
Epicenters of furniture design abound throughout the world. An epicenter is a place with a historical legacy regarding the design, production, research, distribution, or dissemination of furniture design. Epicenters are places where designers and industries have contributed to national and regional economies. In turn, these areas provide support and marketing venues to sustain greater economic success.
The Italian Trade Commission established FORMA, whose purpose is to promote Italian furniture design throughout the world. The Danish Design Center was created in the 1960s to promote Danish companies’ use of design and the success of Danish furniture designers worldwide... >
Industrial entrepreneurs are the silent heroes behind the culture of design. They assume the economic risks and liabilities by leading their companies to invest in design. They establish markets through the production of goods as well as by responding to market demand. Individuals such as Aurileo Zanotta of Zanotta Spa, Alberto Alessi of Alessi, Busnelli of B & B Italia, Julio Castelli of Kartell, Louis Poulsen of Poulsen Lighting A/S, and Rolf Fehlbaum of Vitra all deserve their well-earned recognition (Figure 9.21). Industrial entrepreneurs create relationships with designers, fabricators, representatives, and retail store owners. They are informed about design and production and are responsible for the welfare of their organization and its working relationships with designers... >
IKEA is a successful business that originated in Sweden and targets large metropolitan markets offering contemporary design solutions and inexpensive furniture and accessories. IKEA is in line with very successful big box retailers and has stores throughout the world (Figure 9.14). In American cities such as Pittsburgh, the IKEA business model is to identify a critical mass of customers who can support the cost-effective operation in concert with a generally evolving product line. The IKEA customer is typically young, interested in design, and with a modest level of disposable income (Figure 9.15). IKEA responds well to design trends and relies on a high volume of sales and the introduction of new products each year to sustain growth... >
Retailers buy furniture directly from furniture companies at wholesale prices and sell furniture at retail prices in order to achieve a desired profit margin. Manufacturers generally do not provide floor items for display, nor do they provide furniture on loan or on consignment to retailers. Thus, retailers rely on the display and availability of in-house merchandise and special orders to generate and maintain sales (Figure 9.10).
Shopping by catalog has become popular. Rob Forbes’s Design Within Reach (DWR) is a financially successful catalog and an online venue bringing design within reach to a growing market. Smith Hawkin, Levenger, Sharper Image, and Frontgate are further examples of well-organized sourcing and distribution companies for hard-to – find, easy-to-order products.
The Nort... >
Green design was defined in Chapter 6 as being more complex and inclusive than sustainable design. Consequently, green marketing encompasses more than promoting the sustainability of a product. It is an opportunity to market how furniture is produced (socially and technologically), how it is distributed, how it might be considered reusable or recyclable, and how it might eventually biodegrade. It is a chance to market the company behind the product for leadership in green design.
Fewer companies today are packaging their products with polystyrene, and more are using biodegradable cardboard and flat-pack distribution methods in response to concerns over chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that are produced in the production of polystyrene (Figure 9.9)... >
Large furniture companies such as Fritz Hansen, Giogetti, Kartell, Knoll, Herman Miller, Vitra, and Zanotta have, to a degree, created and expanded new markets through the production of design goods (furniture produced and marketed as design items) (Figure 9.7). These companies differentiate themselves from other companies that produce period- replicated or conventional furniture. The furniture company Herman Miller uses design as a way to solve significant problems for people (Figure 9.8). This outlook, shared by other innovative furniture companies, places value on a pragmatic view in design, but this outlook is also tempered by the concern and awareness in the way furniture looks.
George Nelson was the director of design at Herman Miller for over 25 years and laid out five tenets of H... >
Great designers seldom make great advertising men, because they get overcome by the beauty of the picture—and forget that merchandise must be sold.1
James Randolph Adams, The International Dictionary of Thoughts, 1969
Furniture is, more often than not, a relatively expensive product to bring to market, which contributes to a limited customer pool. Further, consumers want more than comfortable and affordable furniture. Many want social status, beauty, ergonomics, structural integrity, and environmentally green design. The market is complex, driven by individual and societal needs and desires (Figure 9.1).
Throughout developed countries, furniture is a mature product. Most markets have been saturated in the sense that almost everyone has furniture to satisfy their basic needs... >
Most engineering advances used to fabricate contemporary designs rely upon industrial processes and repeatable means of production. Examples of rigorously tested and technologically sophisticated furniture can be seen in the office seating designs that have entered the marketplace during the past 20 years. The Aeron chair, the Freedom chair, the Leap chair, and the Equa chair are contemporary office icons that depend on the workmanship of certainty and technological production. These chairs are examples of significant advances blending ergonomics, sustainable design concepts, new materials, and complex systems engineering. A popular office chair such as the Aeron chair is produced in vast numbers, with each chair made exactly like the one before it... >