Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Home Furnishing Evolution - Technology Changing Furniture Needs

The Times They Are A-Changin’

Huge changes are rocking the Furniture Industry people! In the future, archeologists will puzzle over the fossilized remains of furniture industry dinosaurs, scratch their heads, and wonder why the age of these enormous and strange beasts came suddenly to an end.

Theories on the future demise of the US Furniture Factory?

  • The Rise of Asia as the cheap manufacturer of choice.
  • The Technological Big Bang
  • The Great Recession! --  News Flash- it's NOT Great yet :)
  • Seismic generational shift with the decline of Baby Boomers and rise of Generation X and Y
  • Growth in urban living
  • Rising energy prices
  • Global warming
  • Greed and ego.
Answer: All 8 have some impact, depending on the company. And as the marketplace changes rapidly and calls for new furniture to meet changing needs, the dinosaurs will not be able to adapt quickly enough to take advantage of new opportunities and will face extinction.

Personally, my money is on the small, nimble, flexible and furry furniture mammals that can adapt to change - but time will tell. Room and Board, Ethan Allen, Vaughan-Bassett and Stickley still have strong US manufacturing bases. My hope is that they can be nimble and disciplined enough to hold their ground, but they must address the challenges outlined above.

What follows is a quick snapshot of a changing planet and it’s impact on the industry. In some cases, technology has all but replaced the need for furniture, in other cases technology has reduced the need for large scale storage pieces in favor of smaller versions.

Shine on! Braxton

Nook, iPAD and Kindle replace the bookcase...reducing or eliminating need for this storage

iPOD and other MP3 electronica replace the need for most stereo equipment and records, tapes, CDs and storage furniture

Flat screen TVs redefine old school TV wall systems and demand to be seen not hidden --attached to walls, on consoles, or moving carts

The laptop stores and retrieves data, makes online payments, and reduces or eliminates the need for a desk and storage furniture


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