Cabinet Maker spoke with the design team at Gallery Direct to get an insight into how to stay ahead of the latest trends, and to find out what looks set to be popular in 2017.

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Orders were up 24% on last year

With the UK becoming more design-conscious than ever before, it is important to consumers that they be able to experiment with style and Design, making their homes individual to their tastes and style. Of course, this means that retailers have to cater for this need, and manufacturers in turn for their retailer customers. 

The appetite for personalisation is a clear indicator of how subjective interior design, and Furniture can be, but each season throws out some key design trends which seem to prove popular across the board, so it makes sense that manufacturers be able to keep ahead of these in order to market them to the retailer. This is something at which British furniture designer and manufacturer, Gallery Direct is rather good, so we were pleased to speak to product director Mat Penney and the rest of the design team to find out how.

THE CONSTANT NEED FOR NEW, UP TO DATE Products WILL REQUIRE MORE DESIGN LED THINKING

“We have had a fantastic start to the year,” said Mat, “all the new products were extremely well received at the January Furniture Show and we had record sales, with orders up 24% on last year. The key to catering for a broad range of tastes is to realise that everyone’s tastes and styles are different, and so offer a diverse range of products. Over the years, our offer has evolved and widened to include a broad traditional core of both Gallery and Frank Hudson running alongside contemporary, up to date trend. Our in-house design team is key to this, designing and developing our own products - a variation of tastes and interests throughout which the development team ensures we are constantly bringing new ideas to the table.”

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A design-led approach will stand a company out

Design-led

The company believes this design-led approach is what stands it out and ensures an ever-growing customer base. “It’s important to lead the way, offering clients and thereby the final consumers fantastic choice to add style and personality to their homes,” said Mat. “Adding new looks to keep our offer fresh is vital, but it is not always easy.” So how does a company get some of its ideas? “For us, it’s year round product and Trend research. We explore new and undeveloped ideas alongside analysing our current ranges, and then adapting and developing these. To stand out from the crowd, a design-led approach is key. Home interiors is an ever growing market with more of the public becoming house proud. The constant need for new, up to date products will require more design led thinking.”

The design team also take inspiration from getting out and about, as Mat explained: “We visit shows both in the UK and overseas in order to keep abreast of upcoming trends. By making continuous progression of trends and products, and anticipating changes to the market, we aim to stay ahead by designing new and exciting looks. For example, our minerals collection will be heavily developed this year, with new atmospheric colours and finishes.”

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Attention to detail is a must, but can this have an impact of lead times? “Yes,” said Mat, “it can take several months for an idea to get from initial concept to final sign off ready for production, depending on the product and the intricacy of the design. We may have to develop moulds and castings, make proofs, select colour swatches, etc. However, we work hard with our factories to help them become more efficient and improve their processes. Building a great relationship is what allows us to improve our lead times.”

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Gallery Direct enjoyed a successul January Furniture Show

The challenges

Of course, it also pays to be aware of the factors impacting the market over which we have no control, and how to move forward in light of these. For Gallery Direct, the biggest challenge to the market is the recent impact on British markets and the ever-growing concern about prices. “However,” said Mat “with our close working relationships, we are able to continually improve our product offering to keep prices as low as possible.”

Back to trends, and I asked Mat what he felt were some of the most popular looks. “The Carved Louis Leaner remains an iconic item within our collection,” he revealed, “however, our most recent furniture collection, Mustique, has quickly become a customer favourite, in fact, it has been our best selling furniture product launch to date.”

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And a personal favourite? “If I had to choose, I’d say the Datsun. I love its vintage styling and quality materials. It’s a real show stopper.” In keeping with the ‘crystal ball’ theme, what’s next for the company, both shorter and longer term? “We’re going to keep developing our existing catalogue,” said Mat, “and shorter term we are developing the Mustique collection to include a bedroom range. Longer term, we plan to continue the momentum and growth through Gallery and later this year we’re planning on introducing an exciting new product category – but we can’t reveal what it is just yet.”

 

www.gallerydirect.co.uk

www.cabinet-maker.co.uk/gallery-direct