The ifj trend survey - India

Posted in India on Monday, 26 December 2011. Print

witnessing design changes that the industry has never seen before; the indian interior segment is proudly at par with international standards

The ifj trend survey - India

The Indian interior industry is heading towards high-end, low maintenance, quickly installable products with an option of customization to cater the specific needs of elite clients. With new products and designs being introduced every other day, the client today has an enormous range of options while designing a space, making the industry more consumer-centric.


Heavy, complex furniture has been relegated to the annals of history; the practical client today is looking at straight-line, contemporary and simple designs. Srikanth Srinivasan, CEO – Interiors Division, Sobha Developers Ltd., Bengaluru says, “People used to engage carpenters to come and furnish their houses but that is changing now. People no longer wish to hand over the jobs to carpenters and chase them; instead they are looking at more professional options like Big Bazaar and Home Furniture cater to these needs; however what India now needs is a major furniture retailer like IKEA where one can buy high quality furniture from.” Raghunath, Manager - Projects, Innerspace, Hyderabad adds, “The way Indians used to associate themselves with teak wood furniture is not much in demand compared to ten years ago. People are interested more in the look and functionality. Plywood and MDF sell right now, and imported furniture has come much into vogue.” Furniture today, is designed with a primary focus on functionality and is preferably factory or readymade for better finish and quicker delivery.

The segment of consumers with unique taste in design and material have access to design-based offerings that are increasingly popular. Pooja Malhotra and Gopika Parekh, Designers, The Fuchsia Lane, Mumbai believe that each Indian house has character and a story to tell and find that people are open to ideas; like mixing different designs and patterns in their interiors, fusion in materials and design and a blend of classical and contemporary. Knowledge of the client in terms of preferences in  new products and designs has urged the market to provide the latest and best quality products at par with international standards. Harshal Shinde, Owner, Wudcraft, Hyderabad says, “Client awareness puts a reverse pressure on the seller to upgrade his products and meet the demands in the market in terms of quality, durability and finish. Initially it may result in a certain amount of monetary loss, but in the longer run we cannot forget that we are here to make good things and not just money.”

Due to the current revolution in the working environment, the furniture in this segment has changed considerably. Most companies today are shifting to a modern organization culture and looking at flexibility and comfort as two major factors while designing workstations. Manohar Gopal, Director, Featherlite Group, Bengaluru says, “If you look at the trend earlier, it was more cubicle based design. Today people are looking for more openness in the office and lowering wall heights. They want to go green so partitions are made open from below for proper air circulation and steel is being replaced by particle board and MDF as steel absorbs energy and air conditioning.”

Speaking of the current change in the working culture, Kartik Shethia, National Sales Manager, Herman Miller Furniture (India) Pvt. Ltd., Bengaluru says “The trend is moving towards the mobile office, unlike earlier times when every individual had their specific workstations, anybody can come into office and work on any available workstation because the trend is towards a shed office scenario, where people are travelling or working from home. We have seen some large corporates moving in that direction, and it is definitely the future of office furniture.” Anil Vakde, Business Development Manager, Haworth India Pvt. Ltd., Bengaluru adds, “We are designing to cut down the use of space. Designated spaces as workstations and closed office and recreation areas was the earlier trend; now the idea is to try and use all the areas for your work, you have portability and flexibility.” This is the typical future trend; from big luxurious workstations to more functional and small spaces.


The design of a space is an expression of personality and style. Drapery and upholstery play an important role in uplifting the visual aesthetics of any given space. The use of fabrics changes with season, trends and customer preferences. Monica Kamal, Owner, Megamode International, New Delhi says, “Changes in the fabric industry are constant. Buyers are conscious when it comes to selecting for their homes; they want their selection to be the latest in terms of trends while meeting the look that they desire at the same time.” She further adds that there has been a complete change in the thought process of the user; they are experimenting with new colour schemes and designs with a certain level of dynamism and uncertainty.

Demand for newer styles with colourful abstract and printed patterns has been observed nation-wide. While deciding on the product, users consider factors such as durability of the fabric, comfort level and maintenance cost. Devesh Sharma, Partner, Studio Zynna, Gurgaon says, “Architects act as the main clients while deciding on fabrics as the end user is highly influenced by their recommendations. A major chunk of our business operates on the high net income segment of society who regularly demand a change in their fabric needs over a period of approximately three years.”


The importance of lighting in defining ambience is uncontested. However, industry members say lighting is not usually a priority in the overall interiors budget. Ditul Mehta, Director, Light Square, Bengaluru says, “Lighting comes last in any project especially for residents, so it depends on how much money people have left to spend.” Amith Mehta, CEO, Light Art, Chennai adds, “We provide a few high end brands for some key spaces and balance it out by giving some budget brands for other spaces for people who have a limited budget. The more products you show them, the more they get exposed and open up to new ideas. People are still learning about the industry.”

The high cost of LEDs, when introduced, made them impossible to incorporate in budget-constrained projects. But today, as costs have subsided, people are showing significant interest in LEDs. Dilip Kumbhat, Managing Director, K-Lite Industries, Chennai says, “LEDs are quickly taking over CFLs as they are energy efficient, compact, better designed and have come out for various applications. The architects also don’t want to use the same products in different projects; they would like to use new designs where ever possible.”


Defined as the substance(s) of which an object is composed; materials are essential at every stage of design. Amidst the vast gamut of materials available today, the clear trend is towards eco friendly and multi-functional. Srikanth Srinivasan says, “A lot of clients demand green concepts along with functionality and ease of maintenance in products. The market is moving to products which don’t harm the environment.” Kartik Shethia adds that most multinational corporations insist on the use of office furniture which is made out of recycled material and is easily recyclable.

Wood is an all time favourite, and adds warmth to a space as no other material can. However due to its long life cycle and depleting numbers, wood has been substituted by products like particleboard, hardboard and fibreboard. Anil Vakde says, “We have been researching options where we can provide a higher recycle content while reducing the use of virgin materials. We have experimented with bamboo as a material as it replenishes faster as compared to oak and mahogany. We have adopted the use of rice straws which are processed into boards for worktops; in terms of durability and longevity they are the same as any other material.”

While the base materials for any product often remain the same; there is today an increase in the number of substitutes for such base materials. There is a paradigm shift in the demand for such composite materials with the introduction of new and advanced technology and change in the consumer mind set. Manjiri Thanawala, Director, Chesterfield, Mumbai concludes that everything changes with time; and India is at par with international companies on the materials used in products today.

wall coverings

Wall coverings have been a prominent element of any design; adding a layer of detail which accentuates the otherwise plain and dull inner shell of a space.

With over 1800 colour shades to choose from; paints allow individuals to select colours which best suit their style and preference. The past year has seen the trend in colours and paints shift from subtle pastels shades to brighter and bolder colours, with users attracted to contrasting combinations, metallic finishes and theme based colours. V K Ramchandran, DGM - Sales & Marketing, MRF Corp Ltd., Chennai says, “Polyurethane paints as a group of products is a niche today; the product has various applications. The paint has a longer life period thus requiring less re-coating thus making it apt for exterior usage. Washable, UV resistant and anti-fungal; this product has also found its use in various areas of hospitals.”

Wallpaper; a material used to clad and decorate bare interior walls is widely available in plain, textured and patterned graphics. With newer textures and finishes being launched in the market; wallpapers are a major hit in the Indian sub-continent as they durable, washable and low cost. A revolutionary product in the wall covering segment are polymer sheets made in shapes or designs which match interiors; the sheet is applied upon a painted wall to add a design element to it.


The exposure to international designs and architecture has inspired people to experiment and implement such concepts on their projects back home. Hence, apart from the traditional tile floorings, the industry is opening up to concepts like wooden flooring, carpet tiles and concrete floorings. Satish Patil, General Manager - Marketing, Devesh Sandeep & Co, Bengaluru says, “Today people who have been abroad have seen wooden floorings. 70% floorings in the Europe and US are wood. So those people are demanding such floors out here. Earlier it was only for high-end villas, but today, builders even in the middle segment are offering at least master bedrooms with wooden floors.”

The concept of using carpet tiles is currently gaining popularity in the commercial segment, “Carpet tiles are predominantly used in commercial, corporate environments. They come in different colours, hues, patterns and designs,” says Raj Menon, Country Manager, InterfaceFlor India Pvt. Ltd., Bengaluru and continues, “If you walk in the office space, about 25% of impact is through the floor, so it’s an important thing for an architect. So they begin with the floor and design around that. They have started looking at recycled material or recyclability of the products.”


About 10 years ago, clients were unaware of the concept of a modular kitchen; today the client is well versed with the concept but confused while selecting one of the numerous brands available. The industry has grown many fold in a few years. K. Chandrasekaran, CEO, EWE Kitchens, Chennai, says, “10 years ago not more than 1 per cent of the industry was into organized modular kitchens but in the last 5 years growth would be 3 – 4 times more than the growth ever.” Gautam Vora, Director, Akruti Living, Mumbai, says, “The kitchen segment is booming in India, a lot of customers are going for modular kitchens, be it Indian or imported. People are getting aware and they know exactly what they want, so the market is growing and accordingly the segment is also growing and I think all these changes have happened in the past 5-6 years. Builders have also understood the value of modular kitchens in India and have started to sell homes with built in modular kitchens, wardrobes and woodwork.”

Promotion for the stylish modular kitchens is mainly through word of mouth plus the support of architects, while the higher spending power of clients has made them easier to convince, Ramkrishna Raju, Managing Director, Casa Granda, Hyderabad says, “More and more people are opening up to and going for modular kitchens, it’s easier to convince them to buy modular, they are ready to pay more for quality.”Rohit Tharakan, Partner, Furnplus, Hyderabad adds, “Earlier due to recession people were not redoing their homes much. But the condition has improved and people have realized its less hassle to just buy readymade furniture than making it on site.”

points of sourcing

Sourcing of raw materials, components and finished products is frequent in the interiors segment. Europe continues to be the alpha and omega for sourcing high-end products into the Indian markets. China and other South-East Asian countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia are the secondary markets for a majority of products catering to the mid-level and budget segments.


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