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May 06 2019

Four questions for agency Trendfilter

The Trendfilter agency is the German leader in design expertise for furniture, material and surface trends. The team around Katrin de Louw has been advising companies that produce or sell products or materials for furniture and interior design since 1997. We asked them how their agency works and what services it provides for the furniture industry.

How important are trend agencies for the furniture industry?

I'll be a little provocative here: trend agencies are unfortunately still not very relevant for furniture manufacturers in Germany. This is due to a number of factors. For one, the major supplier companies in some cases carry out their own exceptional, internationally valid trend scouting and supply their customers, meaning the furniture manufacturers, with the latest relevant information here.

Then there are always good sources of information at the industry trade fairs like imm cologne or interzum, with quality speakers on the subjects of trends and lifestyle. The industry thus has good sources of information at its disposal without having to commission an agency.

For another, the industry also moves slowly, and there are only a few who really press forward in terms of development and have the courage to be the first to try out entirely new designs and ideas. This is because one can fail when breaking new trails.

The Italians present a lot of ideas and prototypes for discussion at their trade fairs. The case is entirely different in Germany, where the products shown should ideally already be ready for delivery. These requirements with regard to quality and service inhibit us and leave little room for innovative experiments.

Allow me to come back to my provocative and not entirely seriously intended statement: of course we at TRENDFILTER firmly believe that we can not only advance technical innovation, quality and processes in Germany, but also provide good design with regard to formal language and the use of material.

I've stood passionately behind this belief for years. We try to provide little nudges and encourage confidence and courage for embarking on new paths in product development.

How do trend agencies work – how do you find the trends that will become relevant?

Trends originate from a number of impulses, usually based on the needs of the target groups. In the process, trends are just as much influenced by technical developments, politics and world events as they are by passing fads and trendsetters.

In addition to figures, data and facts concerning the development of the markets and society in general, we look at other industries and observe what's happening there. The whole thing is a big data and information network, which we discuss and analyse with the help of expertise, industry know-how and experience, as well as in workshops with other experts. We also exchange ideas with trend agencies from other industries.

It is this specialised knowledge that even makes it possible to appraise the data in such a way that the forecasts are usually accurate. And something else: by way of our own creativity and design competence as interior and product designers, we at Trendfilter also regularly contribute our own ideas for the implementation of the latest trend currents to the industry.

What does the cooperation of trend agencies and furniture companies look like?

We work here like a consulting company, advising customers with regard to market positioning and future orientation, and move at a level above marketing, product management and sales.

Not only trend research is part of our toolkit in the process, but also approaches to solutions for product development, design and interior design. Workshops are also part of the process of seeking solutions. However, this is customer-specific and is individually adapted from case to case.

How do "furniture makers" find the right trend agency for them?

Upholstered furniture manufacturers can turn to trend agencies from the fashion segment with confidence, as the themes of fabrics and colours are initially of relevance there. However, things get more difficult whenever wood plays a role.

Which is why it is better here to rely on agencies that already advise presuppliers. In this way one can keep well-informed about what to expect in coming years.

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