NY Design Week in Review (Part 4), An encouraging design trend

Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of our review of NY Design Week.

When someone hears “flat-packed furniture”, why are people immediately turned off? Consumers can point to the big box retailers that have utilized it to great success for decades. They could also think to the poor quality and self-assembly that comes with it.

It’s not difficult to understand why designers are as turned off by flat-packing. If you’re a designer, why would you want to spend a significant amount of time creating a design that ultimately lacks the quality to last? And why would you put your name on a low-quality piece? It would only hurt your personal brand.

When we started out, we met a number of people who were adamant about this position and understandably so, but that hasn’t consistently been the case recently, especially at ICFF. More and more, designers are embracing the flat-packing and for a number of great reasons:

  1. Production efficiency: Designers are beginning to understand the production benefits that come with flat-packed products and are beginning to embrace those processes. This includes building good processes, managing inventory, and leveraging advanced technologies. Just having a better understanding improves how designers can interface with manufacturers or utilize their own facilities to maximize output and efficiency.
  2. National and global customers: Logistics is a problem that has not yet been solved for furniture. Even the big boys won’t deliver to every ZIP code in the country. How many customers can afford to pay hundreds of dollars in shipping in addition to the cost of your products? Flat-packing allows you to go from a white-glove service to UPS or Fedex. How many more customers could you reach if you could easily ship your products?
  3. More interesting design challenge: Designing a high-quality product to be flat-packed is an even greater challenge than just designing a great piece of furniture. Not only does it have to be well-designed when put together, it has to be broken down and easy to assemble.  Hitting all these goals in one design is a major achievement that many designers are beginning to strive for.

photo (6)

Even this is sent in a flat pack!

We’re very encouraged by this trend given that Unbranded Designs is a web-based company and we hope to reach customers in different regions. In no way are we proclaiming that we are a flat-pack company but we fully understand the complexities in trying to reach customers everywhere. In fact none of our current designs could even be packed in the ways we discussed with designers at ICFF. We’re just glad to see that there’s a large contingent of talented designers that are embracing this mentality to create amazing products and you should too!

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