The global trends are always interesting to ponder upon. And they are also a goldmine of inspiration if you know how to draw connections between the different scenarios and apply those trends to the scenarios of the future – and well, let me tell you, this is one of the things I know how to do.
The world is home to an interesting phenomenon which seems to come from the most far-fetched previsions of sci-fi authors – the creation of a cluster of mega-cities (housing more then 10 million people each).
As for 2015, there are 35 mega-cities in existence. By 2025, Asia alone will have at least 30 mega-cities – go figure.
Those mega-cities will be hosting the pulsating heart of the economy: all the important financial transactions will happen in there – so, they will be the next frontier in marketing and communications, so much that you can find already marketing reports about mega-cities rather than countries: and this alone is a significant shift of focus. Mega-cities and their evolution.
Add this element to another: The Economist, Asia predicts that China and India – the two giants that will be housing one third of the world population – are beginning to – and for sure, will be – suffering from a severe marriage crisis caused by the scarcity of women. The cultural and social preferences favoring men vs. women – with the wider availability of before-birth sex scanning – have caused the balance of babies to shift, so much that the predictions paint a future where in 2060 there will be 160 men for every 100 available women. The marriage crisis of the 2060
But what will that mean for our furniture industry?
• The mega-cities will house loads and loads of people, with enormous effects on the quality of life, criminality and pollution – so much that there will be a trend of people meeting in each others homes rather than in the cool places around the city – so you’d need your house to be well-furnished;
• As such, the cost of a house inside those mega-cities will skyrocket, making the apartments more compact than ever before – and so the furniture will need to be thought for this kind of evolving situation: compact, multifunctional furniture, designed to make the best of limited spaces;
• Lots of those small urban apartments will be inhabited by working, single men, who will be living alone.
If those facts do not ring a bell, let me rephrase, and give you my best advice: if you are manufacturing furniture for a medium/upper-medium market, and aim to continue to be doing this kind of job in twenty years time, imagine something new to save space and to combine several functions into one object. Try to be smart, easy and practical. Tray to design small items which could expand into bigger ones if needed – and then easily be reduced to their “regular” size – like sofa-beds, bed structures integrating storage, containers becoming other pieces of furniture, space-saving furniture to make the best of cramped spaces. Try to design for men, rather than women, because mostly men will be your decision-makers and buyers. The days where the woman was relegated inside the house as the “queen of the fireplace” are gone, people. The women in this brand new world will be more and more assertive, more self-conscious and more determined, and probably the furniture they will use will be similar to their outlook in life.
The world is changing continuously, and as Abraham Lincoln used to say: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it”. So, let’s just do that – and brace ourselves – and our accomplishments – for what will come knocking at our door: not totally unexpected, that is.