The Gordian Knot – Can Commercial Furniture for life be replaced regularly?
We are a business and don’t want to get into a “look what we can do” campaign of something that had no commercially viable application. Our new product offering, Möbius, is a major commitment for us.
We have developed a product offering that will allow hospitality businesses to refresh their furniture with very high-end products without a high investment cost and meet their increasingly important environmental and sustainability objectives. That being said, it was far from easy!
For instance, one of the problems with commercial furniture is that tastes and styles change quickly – as few as a couple of years before a bar or restaurant gets a refresh. What is hip and “on-fleek today”, is old and outdated tomorrow. That’s assuming the furniture isn’t already well past it’s use-by date and needs replacing anyway.
So, when we looked at the consumable nature of commercial furniture this was the challenge we faced and we decided we wanted to do something different. The three-ring circus of competing demands just created a Gordian Knot of a challenge.
How were we going to find a metaphorical “Alexander” to cut through the intertwined knots:
- Knot 1: Firstly, we need to design furniture to last a lifetime so that it doesn’t end up in landfill after only a couple of years. A lifetime (in our world, we decided 50 years sounded about right) in a commercial environment needed a very good frame design.
- Knot 2: Styles change regularly. For example, without other constraints, the style, colours and even the types of furniture would change very regularly indeed.
- Knot 3: Financial constraints in normal times are always an issue and in these current times, this has multiplied exponentially for hospitality businesses clinging to survival.
Our original drive with our internal design agency blackswan for a sustainable cradle-to-cradle product that could stay in the system would only meet one of the requirements. While a significant challenge in its own right, it would be a white elephant, a folly. However, we didn’t feel that designing commercial furniture that would go to landfill on a regular basis was the right way forward either.
The rapid change problem was actually the easiest problem to solve. Loose cover for furniture have been around a long time and, while we didn’t think it appropriate for commercial furniture, there was a lot we could learn from the process to design our products to be easy to remanufacture – reupholstery that can be carried out quickly and easily with minimum waste.
If we can do that, then having a piece of furniture that lasts 50 years is less of a problem. We can restyle the furniture quickly and cost effectively with hardly any of the product being ejected from the cycle.
But, having a beautiful piece of furniture, continually updated with the latest colour scheme or style is bound to be expensive. There is no way to cut through that knot. Who wants to buy a piece of furniture that lasts 50 years if I only want it for 2 or 3?
“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” -Greek Proverb.
And there it is. The furniture lasts 50 years, but I only want to own it for 3. Then borrow it for the time that you need it.
So, we developed Möbius, a lease model. Our product offering is called Mobius and is made up of:
- The product range built on our Fifty Year Frame™,
- The Remanufacture process and
- The Leasing Model.
(The Möbius Strip is a surface with only one side and only one boundary curve. In other words, it is a single continuous surface and one single continuous edge. It is an infinite cycle and we think that signifies our ‘product’ perfectly.
Our products are in the final stages of testing ahead of launch of Mobius. We have chosen classic, timeless designs that you can customise with beautiful fabrics to create a stunning effect. Very high end, expensive furniture that stands the test of time, without the high level of investment. So far, the range is as follows:
- 2 Seater Sofa
- 3 Seater Sofa
- Sofa Bed (2 Seater style)
- Dining Chair range (9 Styles)
- Tub chair range (3 Styles)
- Banquette/Booth Seating
- Configurable Headboard (PopSchema)
- PopSchema Divan.
A sofa bed to follow shortly.
We will have two lease packages:
- Standard – Reasonable wear and tear.
- Gold – includes replacements and cover for all damage.
We will have four end of lease options:
- Hand everything back.
- Extend with the current furniture with no changes, at a discount.
- Refresh the lease with different furniture types or styles (including new customisations). The original deposit will roll into the new lease.
- Purchase the existing furniture.
We have standardised the range in a dark brown contract faux-leather. Customisation with any fabric of your choosing will be available (for a customisation fee).
The story is that Alexander simply cut the knot in half to undo it. But, that isn’t the scholarly view. Historians believe that he removed the knot from what it was tied around and exposed the ends. This allowed him to unfasten it. Our approach to this problem has been closer to the latter.
We think Alexander the Great would have been proud.
Contact us for more details.