Up to now, the leading décor printing company Interprint, has presented the industry’s latest trends and developments in a format known as ‘Furniture Days’. This however is no more, as in 2018, the team introduced the HUB Interior Festival
With the new Interior Festival, along with over 600 guests from 250 companies, Interprint presented the interior design industry’s future from a variety of standpoints. Industry representatives, designers, architects and trend specialists from around the globe attended the event in Essen in their droves, filling presentations to capacity, revelling in the interdisciplinary approach that well-echoed the spirit of the times.
Interprint director of marketing & design, Salvatore Figliuzzi, reflected on a recently retired top manager from the automobile industry, who he heard present on the topic of ‘Innovations Management’, where he spoke self-critically about his industry’s obsession with technology that is guilty of, at times, completely losing sight of the customer. Says Figliuzzi, “His surprising statements ended with the sentence: ‘Did you hear me say the word ‘customer’ even once?’”
The thing is, the customer’s approach is changing, Figliuzzi, points out. Fewer people are interested in furniture the way their parents were, which was bought for longevity. Furniture barely lasts a phase of a lifetime today, as people are constantly looking for an ‘update’ to their home. Also, there is less concern as to how something is made, no longer does he/she want to know how or why a surface, for example, is produced. “The technology must do its job so that in the end, there’s a successful product. He’s only interested in the result and not the complexity behind the product,” says Figliuzzi.
He asks rhetorically: “Do we really know what the end consumer actually wants or do customers’ wishes get lost in the course of the value chain? Maybe however, the end consumer doesn’t know exactly what he wants and looks to us – the industry – for inspiration and orientation?” This was where the HUB was so successful, where talks included trends, colour theory, contemporary forms of marketing and more. He adds, “Our new approach is unique in the industry – that is confirmed by the feedback that we have received.” Visitors were entranced.
According to Figliuzzi, to manufacture successful products, two essential factors need consideration, technology and design. “Technology for longevity and functionality. Design for emotion, aesthetics and well-being. But is the end-consumer really interested whether we print our decor digitally or in the conventional way for example?” he observes. Design, production, suppliers and those who keep in touch with the customer must collaborate in order to ensure that the overall outcome is satisfying.
He describes how new web portals “work on customers more and more intensively” challenging the will to change. He believes that they will accelerate the transformation process even further: “I’m convinced: The key to success is a creative and conceptually strong presence in the minds of the end consumer.” He adds that while the “coolness factor of communication” plays a decisive role, first and foremost however, is “the will and courage to change”.
He urges that everyone in the ‘value chain furniture’ must awaken a desire for their products
in the consumer and in this, lies the challenge, with we being the greatest challenge. “Do we have the courage to admit that we need to make changes?” he challenges.
Referring to the innovative HUB concept, he says that the aspect that “made the event special is that we do not just put something in front of the visitors. We not only provide them with input, but we also challenge them to some extent. They themselves are supposed to be HUB, so to speak”. He says that visitors are supposed to exchange ideas and investigate each other, that way: “Everyone gives, everyone receives and everyone benefits,” he says.
In closing he says: “I think that we should talk about the topic ‘customer proximity’ much more openly and exchange ideas about this more, so that we can learn from one another. In the end we’ll all benefit from it.”