Trends in furniture, at least in the State, have never been very dramatic. There have been changes down the years but never extreme. These have been largely conservative, traditional. Rarely are there any bold statements, bold changes in thought.
If at all there is a shift in trend of late, it must be an overriding global style. Influences from around the world, designs, styles, materials and even manufactured furniture have found their way into the market. Trends in furniture now speak an international language.
Yet there is no major shift in design. The chunky, heavy furniture, especially those for living rooms and bedrooms, still find their way into shops and houses. What is contemporary is either rehashed traditional or minimalist.
“Furniture needs to be functional. Living spaces have shrunk and consequently design too. That's where the straight line, minimalist ones score. I would go for something that is true value for money, something that would last long. I would also look for something new, in design, materials, even an intelligent mix of media. Of course, the price tag is also very important,” says Priya S.
There has been a huge revolution in the materials being used. Apart from wood, rattan, bamboo and cane, which are still in vogue, there are unique experimental materials used. Woodstruck at Panampilly Nagar in Kochi is an exclusive outlet that stands out for the exotic variety of materials and designs. Most of the pieces they have stocked are imported from Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and other parts of South-east Asia.
“The wood used in our products is basically teak. The materials are eco-friendly, sourced from plantations. Some of the materials like sea grass, banana leaf, abaca, and water hyacinth are widely used in the furniture we have. The initiative is not just on reusing, and recycling; it's repurposing and revamping. The artisans in these countries have a knack of creating incredible furniture from these materials,” says Khadija Sali, the inspiration behind Woodstruck.
These new materials have already found a market in the metros. Here, people have slowly opened their eyes to these new materials. “Though we made a soft launch this May, it is only since October that we have been fully functional. Most of the visitors to our place have appreciated the furniture. Prices are on the high side and our clients are basically from the upper income group.” Most of those who deal with furniture agree that styles here have remained stagnant and staid for too long. There are indications of change. There was a time when style was swayed by Gulf trends. There was demand for flashy, chunky furniture. There are also differing views on the use and popularity of leather furniture. “There was a time when leather was a mark of luxury and grandeur. Not so much now. They are mostly used in lobbies of hotels, public, commercial spaces. Somehow it reminds you of those spaces than homes,” feels Ragini Sarath, homemaker.
Sunil George of Essential Interiors in Kochi has been in the furniture business since 1999. He believes that a large population in the state still prefers solid wood. “I think that the older generation had a better taste. A cursory glance at the furniture in some of the traditional Muslim homes is proof for this. I started off with metal furniture, which was in vogue then. But I do it only on order these days because designs you make are duplicated and sold. I have got into imported teak wood furniture, mostly from Indonesia.”
Sunil does not agree that there is a minimalist trend. “This is not as popular as it is in cities like Chennai and Bangalore. Most of what you see in this genre is Chinese stuff. Maybe it is because we have a generation that is always on the move. They prefer the knockdown kind of furniture. Quality does not matter, only the price.”
Veteran interior designer Arun Lobo, who has seen Kochi grow fashionable, says that an exciting and smart range of furniture is up in the stores for the asking. Hence people have what they want. “Still space is the main dictate as far as furniture goes. In straight lines the Scandinavian style rules. The ornate, heavy furniture goes for large independent houses.” In use of colours clients are going overboard, he feels.
All said and done most homemakers and interior decorators believe that the emphasis must be on creating a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere. They are not bound by ‘traditions.' Minimal furniture is the in-thing. Making good use of the space available, something that goes well with the rest of the décor in the rooms, low lying and floor sitting arrangements that make the place appear spacious, avoiding too many heavy pieces and loud colours are some of the other popular trends.