Monday, June 25, 2018 2:06 PM

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Creating space with Practical Furniture

by Anita Joseph

Sobia, 30, and her husband Mohammed Hanan, 35,  have just rented a one-bedroom unfurnished flat in the Qusais neighbourhood in Dubai. They’re now trying to furnish it, but they have a problem: the pieces they have in mind for the home are way too large and cumbersome. The beige and floral-themed couch they saw at The Home Centre store eats up so much of the living room space that the four-seater dining table they spotted at a local store will not find a place in their home.

“We’re on the lookout for compact, space-saving furniture that will allow us to do up our rooms in style, at the same time will not eat up much room,” says Sobia.

Many like her are on the lookout for smart, interior solutions which are compact and have the amazing ability to stay hidden when not in use. Furniture that helps live life more efficiently by creating multipurpose rooms in homes. Well-placed storage furniture, as well as furniture for small spaces that increases home storage options and enables ‘living large’ despite cramped surroundings.

However, most of them say the challenge of living in a small space is an obstacle to chic design. Problem-solving how to fit belongings into a compact area takes up the energy that would normally be spent on fun decor details.

“The greatest challenge is to find space saving furniture that is trendy and chic at the same time,” says Sobia. “Then there is also the question of customisation and decor-specific needs. The challenge of finding the apt furniture piece is very real,” she adds.

Taking into account this growing need for compact, trendy interior solutions many furniture and interior design brands are now diversifying into innovative, space saving solutions. Many leading developers like Danube, for instance, have already introduced space saving furniture in their residential and commercial projects that turns a one-bedroom apartment into a two-bedroom apartment at night when the bed tucked in the wall panel is released for sleeping at night. This helps a couple to accommodate relatives when they visit them.

UAE-based business conglomerate Tharaa Holding has launched an interior solutions company Practical Furniture that specialises in elegant and innovative space saving furniture and interior solutions catering to the design and functional needs of the UAE market.

Practical Furniture provides products like hidden mini-kitchens and Italian modular furniture for residences, hotel apartments and hotels. 

The product range is also suitable for guest hospital beds, military accommodations, student dorms and staff accommodations.

Superior interior solutions from Practical Furniture provides an outstanding opportunity for real estate developers, hotel operators and property owners to better utilise and add significant value to any given space.

Tariq Ramadan, founder of Practical Furniture, says: “Through our long-standing experience in the real estate industry, we’ve identified a trend towards developing smaller apartments and villas with an additional challenge of keeping such properties multi-functional, trendy and stylish, all at the same time. Therefore, we’ve explored the world for quality solutions that can address these challenges and the result was the launch of Practical Furniture.  We are confident that our smart interior solutions will help property owners, real estate developers and hotel operators increase the usability and functionality of a given space.”

“Furniture that saves space is multi-functional and cost effective, providing optimum use of space. Where traditional furniture is huge, cumbersome and inflexible, space saving furniture can fold, stretch or bend to suit requirements,” he says.

“Space saving furniture is usually multifunctional and can be used for multiple purposes within the same space, providing maximum space utilisation. For example, a wall bed with sofa can transform a living room in the morning into a bedroom at night.  Other solutions offer sleeping, dining, playing, sitting and sleeping options within a 1m x 2m space.  All this can’t be offered by traditional furniture,” he adds.

Another advantage of space saving furniture is its ability to be customised to suit any surrounding, however small.

“Space saving furniture comes in different colours and different kinds of finish, and in case of projects (more than 20 units), the colours and finish can be customised to suite the overall design of the room. This is very important for hotels and hotel apartments,” Ramadan says.

“Further, space saving furniture is slim and hidden, and is probably un-noticeable when not in use.  Therefore, the furniture fits in well within any room style,” he adds.

According to a new report published by Allied Market Research (AMR), the global folding furniture market is expected to generate $13 billion by 2022, growing at a Compound Annual Growth rate (CAGR) of 6.8 per cent from 2016 to 2022. Asia-Pacific constituted largest market share in terms of revenue in the overall foldable furniture market in 2015, followed by Europe. Growth in Asia-Pacific is supplemented by rapid urbanisation and need for efficient use of  available space.

The demand for folding furniture is expected to remain high during the forecast period, as it is an effective alternative to traditional furniture. These pieces of furniture, apart from being multifunctional and space saving, also enhances décor.

“Folding furniture is a suitable option for people living in smaller places or studio apartments as contemporary furniture of this category offers benefits of transforming furniture with multifunctional ability. The US. and China will see an increase in demand for folding furniture owing to smaller living spaces, urbanisation, and the high purchasing power of the millennial generation. However, manufacturers believe that rising raw material prices will have a long-term impact on the market and hamper growth,” says Yogiata Sharma, Research Analyst, Consumer Goods Research, at AMR.

“The primary factor responsible for the growth of the market will be the increased number of smaller homes in the populous cities of the world, thus leading to the need for saving space. Foldable furniture provides for effective space saving options without downscaling but rather collapsing the furniture as per the available space,” says the report.

“In most metropolises in the world, people’s average living area is getting smaller and smaller. More and more young people tend to move to large cities for more opportunities and more active life style,” Shiyao Wang, a Chinese researcher said in his report way back in 2013.

“However, this phenomenon decreases the  average living area gradually. Now in Beijing China, the average living area is only 21 square meters per person. Moreover, high population density leads many other problems such as high gap between rich and poor, high energy cost and house price. These are common problems in metropolis nowadays. Transformable space saving  furniture is one of the options to solve these problems.”

The appeal of this type of furniture also lies in its eye-friendly designs, convenience of size and the ability to remain unnoticed when not in use.

Ramadan says it is great value for money as well. 

“Our prices range from Dh2,495 for a twin hidden bed, up to Dh4,771 for a double hidden bed, and more if wardrobes, book cases, cabinets, sofas, tables are added,” Ramadan says.

“Our products are scalable as well, which means that the customer can buy just a bed, or they can add as many wardrobes and cabinets as they want to fully utilise the room,” he adds.

That’s not all. “All the furniture that we offer is standalone and will only require a small screw to be fixed to the wall.  Our professional team of installers can fix any units within one hour and ensure that it is safely installed,” says Ramadan, of his ‘practical’ furniture.

His company is on an aggressive promotion mode, with plans to focus on digital marketing.

“Our business plan focuses on digital marketing and e-commerce to promote our products, with plans to partner with carefully selected retailers to display and sell our products.  We’ve also been approached by several developers and hotels who are interested in offering our products to their customers,” Ramadan says.

Library beds, folding tables, wall bed units and hidden kitchens are some of the most sought-after items of furniture. Practical Furniture has an Accademico Twin Wall bed system, which is an ergonomic, multifunctional wall bed featuring a closed cabinet and a desk with sliding-door cupboards, shelves, and a mirror.

Perhaps, nowhere is space saving furniture more crucial than the kitchen. And the range of practical, space saving kitchen ideas are endless.

Single bowl sinks, undermount sinks, hidden kitchens, wall mounted storage space, pullout pantries, ceiling cabinets-these are only some of the innovative space-saving kitchen ideas in the market today.

So the next time you feel the need for space, change your furniture, not your home.