Nepali Times
Rearranging the furniture

Ten years ago, buying furniture meant running down to the local carpenter or making a trip to Bagbajar. The idea of a designer furniture store seemed very foreign.

Today, there are more themed-rooms than you can count, offering a large range of models imported from China, Malaysia, Thailand and India. "Urban Nepalis are traveling more frequently, getting exposed to new cultures and are learning to shop for furniture the international way," says Anil Agrawal of Emporious Furniture. "They no longer want haphazard furniture collections."

Suzil Shrestha of Ultimate Decor agrees. "Demand has escalated because people no longer have the time or patience to visit a carpenter, give designs and then wait for weeks," he explains.

Also, as skilled carpenters are going abroad for jobs, people are shifting their focus on readymade furniture, says Binod Tuladhar of the upcoming Furniture Index. He adds, "Whether you buy furniture or make them, there isn't much price difference in the end."

Tempting bedroom sets, comfy yet stylish sofas, sleekly designed dressing tables, the choice is endless for homes, offices or restaurants. Says Madan Man Joshi of Furniture Land, "Furniture is not just about convenience. The way a room is set can influence the mood in the house."

The competition in the furniture market has led many stores to offer deluxe services like professional interior counselors. "Some clients come in with pictures of their rooms to find the perfect fit. But others want to start from scratch and we design entire rooms for them with the help of our interior designers and site supervisors," says Bigyan Prajapati from Fusion Furniture.

Most showrooms have mockups to accelerate the buying process. "Our clients don't need to imagine what their bedroom will look like; a set up like this helps them make better choices," says Sunaina Shah of Urban Designs.

The boom in the construction industry and rapid rise of housing colonies have also fuelled the demand for furniture. Personalisation and optimum use of small space through designer furniture becomes crucial when one lives in an apartment or house that may be near-identical to that of the neighbours. "Although the purchases are budget driven, clients are willing to experiment with new looks," says Sudarshan Joshi of SB Furniture.

Ease of transportation of materials is also highly desirable as people are living in high-rises. Says Raju Karmacharya of Lifestyle Décor and Design, "More and more people are living on the 15th floors, so furniture has to be easy to dismantle, carry and assemble."

However, the biggest problem for furniture buyers today is they don't know what to do with their old furniture. "What we need is perhaps a second-hand store then people will be more willing to upgrade," says Devraj Mishra of Karuna Interiors.

The appetite of city dwellers for modern, bright and functional furniture will only grow in the future and businesses will have to move with the times and become more innovative if they want to survive in the market.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)