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Lifetime furniture, forget it!

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Gone are the days when a piece of furniture would be passed on from one generation to the other, its condition intact even after persistent use. Those were the days when furniture was made of solid wood, either teak or rose, built to last not one life time but many yet to come. Styles and trends were unheard of, with functionality and practicality determining its structure.

Cut to the present and you see furniture that is built to last much lesser than a decade. As for a lifetime, forget it. Who would, with styles and trends changing as fast as these pieces get made? With fast-paced lives and ‘dump it if you get sick of it’ culture prevailing, it is not surprising to find expectations of life for any piece of wood work following a similar trend. The present trend veers around using particle board, be it for wardrobes, kitchen cabinets or exotic furniture that packs in all the latest designs. A point to be noted here is, particle board is different from plywood and is less expensive. The savings could range close to 20-25%. The finish too is better as it is completely machine made, but compared to plywood, the durability is much less.

Modular cabinets and wardrobes are more sought after given the smooth finish as compared to plywood where the veneer or laminate needs to be pasted. Again, modular options involve a less time frame because of the less workmanship involved. In most cases the cabinets or wardrobes are readily available off-the-shelf. This time factor plays a big role in decision making.

Unlike solid wood which has now become prohibitively expensive, particle board, which is more commonly referred as modular options, is lighter and easily adaptable to change when used on metal frames. It is also easy to disassemble and reassemble when there is a change of residence.

When trends change, given the mindset to redecorate every few years, the lower cost of particle board gives the elbow room to bring in new options that conform to latest designs. If the furniture or wardrobe is made of solid wood costing a fortune, even the trendiest mindset would harbour second thoughts about redecoration. In short, the durability and cost factor of solid wood becomes the main road block here.

Interior Designer Sandeep Trikannad puts this down to changing perceptions and new lifestyles. “Presently there is a huge market for particle board with some of the products extremely trendy and inviting to indulge.”

According to him, the uniformity, finish, the easy option to change to newer designs and all this coming at a much lower cost prompts one to choose modular options over plywood or solid wood. And this is more so as the latter needs expert workmanship, not to mention time and money. However, while particle board packs in certain advantages that incline the demand towards it, there are quite a few negative aspects that do act as a deterrent.

Nandhini Sundar

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