How many people actually buy furniture online
Furniture design : Made wants to democratize design
Was Made intended as a global brand from the start?
Yes. I grew up in China, studied in France and then went to England to start my company. The team is recruited from many European countries.
They want to be bigger than Ikea.
We had the ambition to be big from day one. There are a lot of national champions in both France and England and Germany, but they are not global. There is only one really big company in our industry that has crossed all national borders. So we are the second brand after Ikea that is seriously trying to act globally. We invest a lot of money to keep business running in every country.
Why are most brands only oriented nationally? Are they too expensive?
No, but furniture is traditionally a business that works by being close to its customers. You need a large retail space and you have to have a lot of stores to be a national player. Going international is even more difficult.
How do you proceed?
The whole buying behavior has changed. That's why we founded an online-based company. The business is more evaluable, faster and cheaper. People between the ages of 20 and their mid-30s are interesting for the furniture market. They grew up with the Internet like we did. It is normal for us to use the Internet for our research when we buy furniture for the first time. Previous generations didn't do that, they went from store to store and compared the products.
Have customers learned to imagine things in three dimensions that they see in two dimensions?
When we started we didn't know what was going to work. So we first sold small things like lamps and pillows. But sofas actually sell well. You would think that people are just wanting to try out sofas. But even if you go to a store, you will only ever see three models - on the other hand, you can view all 200 models online.
So do you think retail is out of date?
We have nothing against shops. But today they should be linked to the modern needs of customers. It's not about customers stop buying offline. But whoever goes shopping today does it for pleasure. Many people already buy everyday things online, even groceries.
Nevertheless, you have a showroom in Berlin. Why?
These showrooms are important for trust, because there is no sale, but you can test the quality.
The look of Made is modern, Scandinavian. Do you think that people today have higher expectations when furnishing their home?
We love the Scandinavian style! For a large part of the market, furniture has to have a function; those customers don't care so much about what it looks like. Ikea did a very good job there, democratizing what I call function. But they didn't care about aesthetics and design. So far, nobody has done a really good job and invested in this part of the market.
How quickly do you react to customer preferences?
The consumer world is moving very quickly today. In my parents' generation, furniture was inherited from one's parents, the life cycle of the products lasted forever.
But that's nice!
Yes, there is nothing to be said against. But we are living more and more in a throwaway society. In fashion today, Zara and H&M set the tone. And people want the interior trends right away - they are impatient, young, urban professionals. They have little time, high quality standards, and they don't want to pay so much money for it. You come to Made because we have two collections with five to ten products a week. In the traditional world, there is an autumn and a spring season - or even just one a year. We are a big machine that is constantly bringing out new products. Because we operate online, we don't have to make hundreds of each model and distribute them in stores around the world. We put a photo on our site and collect the orders before we start producing.
In big cities people have little space, small apartments - does that matter to you?
An important. We sell in seven European countries and most inquiries come from the big cities. People today generally have a different concept of life and live much more cramped. Lots of young people work in bed. In the past you sat at your desk to work - now nobody sits there anymore.
The interview was conducted by Grit Thönnern
You can look at the furniture and try it out in the Made showroom: Friedrichstr. 224 in Berlin-Kreuzberg.
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