Are we seeing the last days of heirloom furniture for the Filipino home? (Business Mirror (Philippines))

ONCE upon a time, a lot of Filipino families bought classic pieces of furniture with the aim of keeping these timeless home furnishings for a long time and passing them on to the next generations.
However, it seems like this tradition has become a longforgotten practice, as families nowadays no longer have the natural inclination of keeping these kinds of furniture.
In one way or another, home furnishings affect the salability of residential units, particularly those within highly urban locations like Makati City, Bonifacio Global City and Mandaluyong. Modern homebuyers often look for living spaces that reflect or complement the lifestyles they espouse, and one of the most critical decisions they would have to make almost always comes down to the kind of furniture they need to satisfy their sense of home.
I’ve reached out to a couple of industry players to ask them how the preferences of many Filipinos have changed over the years in terms of choosing what kind of furniture and furnishings go into their personal spaces. How is this shift affecting their business? Is furniture fashion an everevolving concept or are they seeing a certain pattern that repeats itself over and over again?
The impact of the Internet and social media
In this day and age, do Filipinos still go for classic pieces of furniture or have they shifted their sights toward more modern, more stylish pieces?
“There is a perception that people always go for unique and flamboyant furnishings. Due to the prevalence of online lifestyle sites and socialsharing sites, like Pinterest and Instagram, consumers are bombarded with flamboyant designs and decors,” BLIMS Fine Furniture Business Development Manager Greg Lim said.
“However, in general, when it comes to buying their own furniture, people still prefer a more contemporary look for their major furniture pieces. Since it is an investment piece and will be for longterm use, they are a bit more careful and make sure the furniture pieces they buy are stylish and will still suit their taste and lifestyle for years to come.”
According to Lim, one more thing he has observed among furniture buyers nowadays is how they’ve come to create an understanding of modern classic furniture fashion.
“Furniture buyers, nowadays, really know exactly what they want to have. They’re not so much after ‘classic’ furniture in the traditional sense of solid wood, carved furniture, but they have become more open to those with an updated classic design and more contemporary twist,” he explained. “Most of our customers tend to be more willing to buy flamboyant designs when it comes to buying accessories because they know they can change it anytime.”
The Internet, indeed, has done so much in helping today’s homeowners and buyers keep themselves in the know with fresh design ideas, something SB Furniture Merchandising Manager Jackson Cue also acknowledged.
“I think Filipinos now are more exposed to the world due to the Internet, so their taste also has changed definitely,” he shared. “In the same way I think more Filipinos are earning more, thus investing in their homes usually reflects their personal taste and style, with the biggest objective of their home being their sanctuary after a hard day at work.”
Creating sustained interest
One other thing that furniture companies encounteras with design partners of most realestate developersis how to sustain the interest of today’s market. Thus, the question I’d like to pose is this: Is the concept of classic design still a relevant selling point for industry players within the residential field?
“In our case, we veer more toward timeless designs because we want our customers to be able to enjoy the piece for a long time,” Lim added. “At the same time, we do also carry a few pieces that are geared toward customers looking for more avantgarde designs.”
Lim added that, by keeping their product lines fresh, they are able to competitively adapt to the changes in lifestyles and designs. “We come up with new brand and collections that will suit the different tastes and lifestyles of the consumer,” he said. “With the onset of the building boom, we have been very active in providing condo furniture that provides customers with spacesaving solutions.”
Ethan Allen, meanwhile, has placed more emphasis on the concept of marrying different design ideas to create a certain style that appeals to its market. “When styles collide, originality explodes. That’s the whole idea behind our concept, The New Eclecticism,” Ethan Allen shared in a recent material. This platform encourages mixing and matching to achieve individual expression, and helps the brand position itself as a relevant design resource for more consumers.
“The new introductions fuse presentday sophistication with the allure of traditional form, and the classic lines allow them to blend seamlessly with a wide range of furnishings,” the company explained.
“The mixture of exquisite materials, including Indonesian Mahogany solids, mixed with exotic veneers, such as the newly introduced Mozambique, along with Zebrawood and Swirl Mahogany all make for unique and exciting combinations, and the new polished nickel hardware brings it to a new level.”
For Heima’s Creative Director Dr. Rossy YabutRojales, one unique thing that her company has been doing to sustain the interest of today’s home upgraders, renovators, and even those who are just beginning to design their own homes, is by collaborating with a lot of other creative minds in the industry. “We sustain interest in our brand of home and lifestyle by releasing regular collections and by doing collaborations that foster interest in design in general,” she said.
“Aside from this, we also have a sister company, Heim Interiors, that provides furniture pieces to their clients, which can be anything from industrial to chic, from classic to modern and many others more.”
Challenges ahead
The ongoing boom in construction activity has created more opportunities for furniture manufacturers and home furnishing companies. Unfortunately, this sustained growth has also created more competition, and has, thus, required industry players to become more innovative in responding to these challenges. SB Furniture has taken a huge step in addressing these kinds of challenges. “We are proud of not just selling furniture but providing a solution to new homeowners, such as through our free interior layout consultancy. This saves homeowners the hassle of moving in to their new home by providing expert advice from our inhouse design specialist,” Cue said. As more brands come in, furniture companies find themselves in need of reinventing their business ideas to keep up with growing competition. “Aside from foreign brands, there are also a lot of new small players that import themselves and open a single shop. However, we believe there will be market consolidation soon because furniture retailing requires scale,” Lim said. “As in the case of other consumer durables, there is need for store management, warehousing, delivery, assembly/technical that requires a lot of investment and experience.”
To further strengthen its competitive edge, BLIMS has transformed itself into a lifestyle group to maximize the opportunities that come along its path. Currently, the BLIMS Lifestyle Group has four retail formats: BLIMS Fine Furniture, Sogo Home and Office, LaZBoy Gallery and Cellini Design Gallery.
The group envisions becoming the number one house of lifestyle furniture brands in the country as it plans to bring in more furniture brands into its fold, as well as to rapidly expand its various conceptstore formats in more locations in Metro Manila and the provincial areas.
Indeed, for companies involved in the business of design within the realestate sector, reinvention has become an efficient tool to keep themselves ahead of the competition. With industry players emphasizing a commitment to superior quality and elegant designs, homebuyers and renovators won’t have a hard time dressing up their personal spaces to reflect the lifestyles that characterize their own identities.
Source: Business