Products intended to promote health are among the top sellers in the furniture industry. Having started in bathrooms, the wellness trend is now also relevant to the interior design of living rooms, offices and kitchens. This is a development from which retailers can profit, as can manufacturers, designers and architects working in these areas.
For consumers in Germany, issues of health and wellness have long played a major role in all areas of life. Current developments like demographic change, new work, urbanisation and neo-ecology are feeding into the health megatrend. It is synonymous with sustaining personal vitality in the long term. For this reason, health, fitness and wellness have become attractive sales arguments that have permeated many areas of life and consumption. Physical activity is recorded by apps and digitally processed, the market for clothing designed for exercise is growing and foodstuffs are defined by the nutritional value of their ingredients.
As far as furnishings are concerned, the megatrend is not only having an impact on bathrooms – which we might think of first – but also on kitchens, offices and home offices, outdoor areas plus living rooms and bedrooms. Having the right lighting or natural materials like wood also contributes to the feel-good factor. Health considerations are relevant to many purchasing decisions, with shoppers in Germany being more than happy to spend extra on health-promoting products. According to surveys, consumers would be prepared to pay around 70 per cent more for a coffee table produced with zero emissions than they would for a conventional one. This trend is affecting all age groups, but especially financially well-off mature consumers and singles, with over 60s attaching particularly great importance to furniture with a high wellness factor. The growing proportion of single-person households is boosting sales in the bathroom and kitchen segments as well as sales of high-end furniture.
A study commissioned by the German Sanitary Industry Association (VDS) revealed that 41 per cent of Germans see modern bathrooms as playing a role in promoting health. Those surveyed stressed wellness and a high level of functionality in the long term as important considerations. The bathroom has become a place of relaxation, where we enjoy spending our free time. Bathrooms are therefore increasingly being furnished to be more comfortable and cosy – with seating and carpets in addition to accessories. Built-in flat screens, atmospheric lighting and Jacuzzi tubs are transforming bathrooms into private spas. In recent years, the sanitaryware sector has also developed wellness products such as rain showers, hydrotherapy jets, horizontal showers with underwater lighting and special fragrance programmes to contribute to improved relaxation away from everyday life. After rigorous research, Dornbracht has brought an extensive range of wellness products onto the market with its “LifeSpa”.
“There are few things as important as a good night’s sleep. A comfortable bed with a high-quality mattress and the right pillows is indispensable,” says Jochen Winning, Chief Executive of the German Quality Association for Furniture (DGM). The mattress should allow your pelvis and shoulders to sink into it a little, while keeping your spine straight. For an ideal, ergonomic reclining position, the pillow must also be suitable, so that your head is comfortably supported and your neck not overstretched. After all, unhealthy sleeping positions not only lead to poor sleep, they can also damage the back and neck area. With the “ComFEEL plus”, Schlaraffia has developed a mattress system that adapts particularly well to the body thanks to special comfort zones for the shoulders and other areas.
Ergonomics are also important for healthy work in the kitchen. It is therefore key when designing a kitchen for worktops to be at the ideal level, which can be customised to suit an individual’s height. This can also be achieved flexibly via electric height adjustment. An electric drawer-opening mechanism or compartments that can be opened easily at the touch of a button provide comfort that is easy on the back, as do electrical appliances that are mounted at the right height for easy reaching. Well-designed kitchen systems like “b3” from Bulthaup consist of modular shapes that are suited to human ergonomics and offer various options for customised installation.
In offices or home offices, height-adjustable tables and chairs, products for dynamic sitting like the “Vluv Leiv” seating ball from Hock Design, eye-friendly desk lamps and sound-absorbing systems all contribute towards good health.
Special couches or entire relaxation arrangements like the “Cube Lounge” from Ipdesign aim to provide a comfortable easing of tension in the living room. The right lighting also has a role to play in recuperation. LEDs can be programmed individually to produce a restful ambience, and multiple light sources distributed around the room create more of a feel-good atmosphere than one central lighting fixture. As a natural material, wood also has a positive influence on our well-being. Its pleasant aroma and warm charm have a relaxing effect. Those who want to play it safe when it comes to making their home furnishings compatible with their health can look out for quality labels such as Germany’s “Golden M” or the “Blue Angel” eco-label.
Health and wellness are long-term trends that are extending into all areas of the furniture industry. Retailers should engage with these issues in order to provide comprehensive advice to end customers. The same goes for designers and architects, planners, manufacturers and suppliers who have an interest in this promising area of activity.