Innovative manufacturers are bringing new kinds of furniture systems onto the market that customers can use to build their own modular shelving, tables or chairs. This results in lower transport and storage costs. For companies, the production of ready-to-assemble furniture is cheaper and simpler. Distributers also benefit from increased demand.
With the introduction of its multifunctional Allen key in the 1960s, IKEA popularised a practical tool that allowed customers to assemble the Swedish retailer’s flat-pack furniture at home.
Today’s innovative young entrepreneurs are even more inventive: start-ups are developing their own techniques and systems for connecting together individual furniture components or modules without tools. These include sophisticated connection methods, patented magnetic fasteners and special click systems. They often offer the consumer the opportunity to design his or her desired piece of furniture him-/herself using a customisation tool on the computer before placing the order online. This is resulting in furniture items of high aesthetic and material quality, which can be offered at reasonable prices. Many manufacturers are using this growing trend to their own advantage by producing the products that are in high demand. Distributers are also benefiting.
The advantages are plain to see. Flat and compact packaging reduces transport costs. Production is also cheaper and simpler for the manufacturer. The self-assembly of prefabricated modules is in keeping with the ongoing DIY trend and is time-saving and uncomplicated too. That’s because there’s no need for a hammer, glue, screws or any other fastening elements – whether you’re making a chair, bed or shelf. This system also has advantages when moving house. As a result, furniture that can be assembled without tools fits perfectly into the mobile, flexible and personalised lifestyle that brings together the current megatrends of mobility and individualisation.
The subject of innovative furniture construction is highly pertinent. Start-up company Pazls recently presented a successful pitch on the popular show for new business ideas “Höhle der Löwen” (Germany’s equivalent of “Dragons’ Den”). The principle behind the patented system, which the young entrepreneurs from Berlin developed to build self-assembly sideboards or shelves, is just as simple as it is ingenious. A small magnet moves a steel pin, firmly anchoring it into the matching piece – and the dismantling process is equally uncomplicated. In the programme on Germany’s VOX TV channel, businessman Frank Thelen announced that he wanted to invest in the online store and distribution of Pazls. But the deal came to nothing. Thelen stated the high cost of growing a business in the furniture market and the strong competitive environment as his reasons for pulling out. Nevertheless, the designers are confident they can establish themselves in the market with their flexible system “Pazls Snap”.
Polish start-up Tylko is also making bespoke furniture for its customers, which is delivered in compact packages. The subsequent assembly of shelving or chests of drawers is done at home using a special click system with colour-coded parts. In the patented slot-together system from Taxtho from South Tyrol, Italy, narrow wooden modules are inserted into one another without tools to produce a sturdy object. A series of grooves allows the elements to be assembled in a grid pattern. Chairs and beds built in this modular fashion also adjust to slightly uneven floors, thus making sitting or lying down more comfortable.
Innovation in furniture construction is a subject that is now reaching a wide audience. If the quality of the products is right, manufacturers can benefit from the growing demand for self-assembly furniture. The manufacturing process, delivery and storage are also more cost-effective than ready-made furnishings. When manufacturing companies and suppliers focus on modular furniture, they stand to gain a clear competitive advantage.