The furniture industry – An Italian perspective after the 60th edition of the Salone del Mobile

Since the birth of the classical Renaissance furniture till today, popularity of Italian furniture continues, and has placed itself in the trendsetting front seat in design excellence in the overall history of furniture design. Italian economy relies on this industry considerably with about 18,600 companies, a total of over 130,000 employees and almost 23 billion euros in turnover (Intesa Sanpaolo, 2018). As one of the leading exporters and manufacturer of furniture in the world, Italy exports almost 60% of its total furniture production where the main destinations are France, Germany, the United States and China (Mordor Intelligence). In 2022, Revenue in the Italian Furniture market amounts to €14.56bn and is expected to grow annually by 1.35% (CAGR 2022-2026) while the largest segment is the Living Room Furniture with a market volume of €3.59bn in 2022 (Statista, 2022).

The Italian furniture industry, the same as the entire manufacturing ecosystem in Italy, is characterized by concentration of production units in certain territorial areas. These districts primarily formed after the second world war, in 1950s and 1960s with the explosion of consumption in the post-war period and since then continued its tradition, even during the international economic crisis. The collaborative nature of each district both on local and national levels is the key to sustain their continuity. As Pietro Pavone of University of Sannio explains, there are seven regional areas where most of the furniture production takes place: Veneto, Lombardi, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Toscana, Marche, Puglia and Basilicata, to which correspond mainly seven large furniture districts.

In the Treviso district, companies are specialized in the production of modern furniture and preside over every phase of the supply chain, from the raw material to the finished products.

The so-called “Chair District” (that of Manzano, in Friuli-Venezia Giulia), on the other hand, specializes in the production of chairs and tables, with a strong division of labor between small and medium-sized companies.

In the South Veneto district, known as the “Classic Furniture District,” the main production activity is the furniture construction, followed by polishing, chair construction and upholstery, restoration, and assembly of components.

The Brianza district, famous for offering the first tailor-made products, specializes in the production of wooden, metal, upholstered furniture and furnishing accessories. Moreover, it has a centuries-old history and a very wide production, which includes, in addition to finished products, such as bedroom furniture, living room, office, kitchens, even components and woodworking machines.

The Forlì-Cesena and Pesaro-Urbino district, on the other hand, specializes in the manufacturing of upholstered furniture and furnishing accessories especially for bedrooms, living rooms, and in the production of kitchens.

Moving to Tuscany, we find the Quarrata and Poggibonsi-Sinalunga district, well known for its strong vocation for the production of upholstered furniture and the wood industry for furniture and building, semi-finished products and furniture components.

Finally, in the Murgia district it has always been popular for its excellent top-notch carpentry and leather processing skills, specializing in the production of upholstered furniture, such as chairs, sofas and armchairs.

What are the changes that are affecting this industry?

Post-Covid, the production of furniture products in Italy is increasing steadily with the living room/dining room furniture market, accounting for nearly one third of the Italian market, followed by bedroom furniture, office furniture and kitchen furniture. However, there are driving factors caused by the lasting effects of global pandemic which we anticipate having a greater impact on the market dynamics in the near future.

The same as every other industry, the sales channel is evolving in Furniture industry as well by e-commerce market share going up, disrupted supply chains and new value creation systems in place. Yet, the most impactful effect is the blending of living and working spaces shifted the market dynamics and has already redefined home and given an even more central role to it in which consumers are seeking to surround themselves with higher levels of comfort, functionality, and flexibility. Moreover, the workout of furniture in particular Sofas and Chairs are multiplied given the time spent indoors, hence, durable fabrics with less maintenance, and consequently proper lighting solutions are on the rise. Outdoor furniture is another up-and-coming category that has been arising, yet not fully matured and offers great opportunities to brands for innovation.

From June 7-12, 2022, Milan hosted the 60th edition of the Salone del Mobile, the global benchmark event for the furnishing and design industry. Roncucci&Partners was of course present and it was exciting to see how brands are evolving to reflect the dynamics of a rapidly changing market!

 

Ailar Jabbari

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