Solving The Back End Of The Problem

To solve the structure problem and design a concept furniture brand of the future we first worked to understand the reasons people stop using furniture. These seem to fall into three broad categories:

  • The furniture is broken

As with all products in a throwaway society, the first urge when something is broken is to purge it from our lives in the easiest way possible. The dump is usually that easy option.

  • Bored and seeks change

As the fashion industry trends are a huge driver in interior design. If its texture or colour is dated then it is no longer ‘en vogue’. In commercial offices where tasteful interiors reflect the brand's cultural relevance, this means a full fit out.

  • The furniture is unused

People move on; companies die. Good quality furniture is designed to stand the test of time. People are more transient. Even people with good intentions and sustainable ideals struggle to consider keeping a heap in the corner of cheap broken plastic chairs and grotty privacy booths. Even if there was a desire, the ability to use these items in a new space is difficult with expensive reconditioning costs and inconsistent supply.

Once these reasons occur the lack of awareness, options and opaqueness of disposal channels mean that people cannot make good decisions on how to extend the life of the furniture at the back end.

Considering the industry from this perspective we see the heart of the problem. There is no real alternative to satisfy the gap left by these existing ‘end of life’ triggers other than new furniture. Solve or remove these problems and you will solve the big driver of waste. Solve the big driver of waste and the requirement for new falls substantially. The millions of hectares of forest and billions of kilograms of embodied carbon (mentioned in Blog 2) will be slashed.

So what is the alternative? If money was no object and new furniture was no longer acceptable, what is the alternative? Old furniture means iconic vintage pieces but also means soggy sofas left on the street.

We need a system that takes the old and makes it new again. To achieve this we need an ecosystem of companies that can provide solutions for different budgets, different users and different environments. At the moment we have a range of end of life experiences.

  • For iconic valued vintage pieces, there is a secondary market. There is value in taking used versions of this furniture and reprocessing it: reupholstery & reconditioning. There are online marketplaces like 1st Dibs and Vinterior that successfully enable this beautiful furniture to live again.
  • For established brands, there is an ability to reprocess their own furniture but this is usually uncommercial. The problem here is that the furniture is not designed for disassembly so the cost of re-upholstery or reconditioning is often as expensive as making a new one. The process is intensive and wasteful. In Marc’s own facility in Frome reupholstery and reconditioning only happens as a favour to valued clients.
  • For ubiquitous cheap furniture that has been shipped in from overseas, there is little commercial value in doing anything with it at the end of its first life. Some of it can be dusted off and reused but usually, the supply is inconsistent and there is no value in these pieces so a secondary market cannot thrive.

Given this landscape, the substantial barriers and problems we need innovative new business models and solutions.

In debating these challenges we are designing a concept furniture brand of the future. A furniture system designed to transcend time. This brand is called ‘Capxule’. Please share, comment and DM. We look forward to driving impactful change.