What to Expect From a Career in Furniture Design

Furniture is such an integral part of our everyday living that many people don’t stop to consider it very often. But there is a large and multinational industry present to support design, manufacture, production, distribution and sales. The furniture industry itself spans a wide range of price points and needs. This makes the job of furniture designer an interesting one as there are many directions one can take in the field.

On the surface, many think of furniture design in the realm of household furnishings and this is indeed a large aspect of the industry. As the needs of humans evolve, so must the home and the pieces that fill the empty walls. Household furniture designers must not only create functional pieces, but focus heavily on the design aesthetic to be successful. For those with a flair for design, home furniture design can be a rewarding career.

Another large aspect of furniture design is for the business and office market. This area is more focused on functionality and in recent decades creating complete office environments has been the emphasis. An interest in human factors and the way people perform tasks is an important trait to have to be successful. Office furniture and systems that enable work to be done more efficiently and ergonomically is the constant challenge.

There are primarily two main tracts to becoming a furniture designer, although unlike some professions like the law or medicine, there is no prescribed route. One tract is a more artistic/design path the other more focused on architecture/engineering. Either can lead to success and many of the most famous furniture designers such as Van Der Rohe, Eames, Saarinen, LeCourbusier also had success in industrial design, architecture, sculpture, art, photography and film.

If more artistically inclined, design school is a good route. This will provide training in symmetry, composition and universal design principles, along with instruction on rendering one’s vision on paper or screen. This is an important aspect of furniture design as the designer’s vision must be translatable to production and creation.

The other route is a bit more technical, emphasizing on engineering and math. This focus provides one with the concepts of construction and how structures bare weight and resist force. This too is an important aspect of furniture design and creation as ultimately furniture is functional and must be designed with human use in mind.

Both routes will also provide training in understanding materials – both structural and aesthetic – that are used in furniture. An understanding of current manufacturing processes is also important, as well as the study of human dynamics and movement. The most successful furniture designers are curious about the way humans live and work and interact. Careful observation of life is what often brings true insight into the design process.

After education the logical next step is to put one’s training into practice and get a job. This is probably one of the most intimidating aspects of any career. For furniture design (in fact just about any design career) one typically starts as a junior associate, assisting more senior and experienced designers with projects. This is often termed “paying one’s dues” before working more independently on projects. Another route is to work on one’s own designs and attempt to sell them directly to manufacturers. This can be highly rewarding but difficult.

In either case, furniture designers have a unique profession that combines artistry and design with function and practicality. It is also fulfilling to see one’s vision being put to use by people in their everyday lives.

Modern Furniture Design Represents a Bold Spectrum From Vintage to Eco-Conscious

Demands of modern life have strongly influenced furniture design for 2015. Eco-conscious materials have become desirable, and furnishings designed for smaller spaces has developed into a strong niche market. In addition, furniture with an eye toward technology is booming, with charging ports and device storage becoming a new norm. Not to be left out is vintage furnishings, which represent both green ideas of recycling as well as retro-cool styling.

The most interesting quality of furnishings is their enduring ability to impact the tone of a room. As tastes and styles change over time, furnishings can be chosen to match a variety of themes and design motifs.

Proper choice of furniture can change a room from casual to formal, traditional to modern, or even cold to welcoming. Modern design studios and showrooms, and the expert designers they use, can help any homeowner achieve a newer, fresher look consistent with their intentions. Trends in furniture design are seemingly in constant flux, though a skilled design professional can help one wading through the depths of choice confusion.

Trends for this season’s furniture market are many. First off, in carrying on with the technology revolution, many modern furniture designs have made room for techno-products. Integrated charging ports and spaces designed for iPhones and iPads are making their way into desks, bureaus, accent tables, nightstand, and more. Another theme that appears to be catching on in a big way is furniture with a smaller profile. As housing continues to become more expensive and the lasting effects of the Great Recession still being felt, many home buyers are seeking to furnish smaller spaces. Smaller spaces call for smaller furniture, so look for classy furniture doing the job with a reduced footprint. In keeping with the less is more theme, multifunctional furniture has grown quite popular, with furnishings doubling as storage supporting a ‘no wasted space’ mantra. Tables doubling as dog crates and litter boxes, staircases full of useful storage, and transformer furniture (such as beds that become desks) are all useful additions for smaller housing.

Like many other industries, the modern furniture industry is going ‘green.’ The desire for furniture that does not release toxic chemicals from materials and coatings has caused designers to choose more earth-friendly combinations. Additionally, consumer demand for eco-conscious manufacturing practices, and less energy-intensive production and distribution has driven demand for locally produced ‘artisan’ furniture. Local furniture has several benefits, including being of the highest hand-made quality, as well as supporting local craft industry.

Custom made furniture and furniture with unique detail are all the rage for 2015. Expensive and beautiful is the name of the game with custom furniture – unique designs specially made as the perfect piece to tie a room together. Custom work can be made affordable, however, as even some mainstream manufacturers are joining the fray. The degree of customization can vary, with mainstream producers offering color, sizing, and functionality choices, whereas truly one-off furnishings contain a larger degree of customization. One of the most desirable traits of custom furniture is that it tends to spark conversation, so in addition to being a beautiful representation of one’s style sense, it has the added benefit of being a conversation piece.

Vintage furniture has also become popular in recent years. Not only does the throw-back look typically elicit warm, nostalgic feelings, it also it regarded as being very eco-conscious. Recycling an older piece saves it from a landfill and typically has off-gassed any volatile chemicals long ago. Vintage furniture represents a nod to the cherished past, while also making a statement about the importance of the future.

Commercial Furniture & Furniture Stores Are Surviving Recession

The recent recession has hit many industries very hard. Some we may see disappear altogether. The commercial furniture industry is here to stay though. This refers to any piece of furniture intended for use in the workplace. Not only has this industry survived, but it has in fact set itself up for moderate steady growth in the future.

To cut costs without affecting quality or price takes dedication. One of the first places many industry leaders looked was in the area of packaging and shipping costs. By changing the packaging of a product to better fit the product itself, thus cutting out a lot of the dead space in shipping, the cost can be reduced dramatically. Also, the actually packing materials used have been changed to less expense, and more environmentally friendly materials.

Customer service departments have actually been reinforced. They have stood behind their products and given support where needed. By stepping up efforts in customer service companies have reduced their risks of losing current clients. Also, this has the added effect of bettering their overall reputation so as to attract new customers as well. If other industries adopted this change this might be a slightly happier world we live in.

With respect to their products, they have worked to increase efficiency by getting rid of near repeats in designs. This has actually brought to light many opportunities for innovation. The focus on simplicity has been very popular. Ensuring the functionality of the products is key. This has proved to cut not only production costs, but also in the area of marketing.

The drive to become environmentally conscious has been a welcomed change for this sector of manufacturing. Industry leaders have felt good about an increased push to use materials that are safer and healthier for their customers and their employees. This shift has been the driving force behind changes in design and materials. The sustainability movement is a move in the right direction.

Sustainable materials means more recycled materials. This means less raw product. What this really means is another reduction in costs. The use of recycled material is far less expensive. Customers can also think about how the furniture they are buying may once have been a pile of soda bottles. These materials are also more durable, lasting longer which also cuts costs for the customers who will not have to pay for repairs or replacements as soon as they would have otherwise.

A majority of manufacturers have moved their production operations to China, Asia, and Eastern Europe. These moves have allowed them to be able to have faster production times, at a lower cost, then production in North America or Europe would have allowed. There has yet to be any issues taken with the quality of the work.

A surprising shift in public interest, as noticed at an industry conference, is that people are becoming more interested in attitudes and practices of companies, rather than the products themselves. The overall high standards of the commercial furniture industry should be satisfactory for most people.