24 May 2024, 18:11
By Sylvia Khan May 22, 2013

A profile of India's furniture industry

India, the world’s eighth largest consumer base, boasts an organised furniture industry estimated at US$8b, growing fast. In this month’s instalment of the Global series exploring the world’s key furniture markets, Sylvia Khan, from leading Indian magazine IFJ, reveals the trends that are shaping India’s domestic and commercial interiors markets …

India’s in­te­ri­or in­dustry is hea­ding towards high-end, low ma­in­te­nan­ce, qu­ickly ins­tal­lab­le pro­ducts, with custo­mi­sa­ti­on options to ca­ter for the spe­ci­fic ne­eds of eli­te cli­ents. With new pro­ducts and de­signs be­ing intro­du­ced every ot­her day, the cli­ent to­day has an enor­mo­us ran­ge of opti­ons when de­sig­ning a spa­ce, making the in­dustry mo­re con­su­mer-cen­tric.

He­avy, comp­lex fur­ni­tu­re has be­en re­le­ga­ted to the an­nals of his­tory – the prac­ti­cal cli­ent to­day is loo­king at stra­ight-li­ned, simple, con­tem­po­rary de­signs. Sri­kanth Sri­ni­va­san, CE­O – in­te­ri­ors di­vi­si­on, Sob­ha De­ve­lo­pers, Ben­ga­lu­ru, says: “Pe­op­le used to enga­ge car­pen­ters to co­me and furnish the­ir hou­ses, but that is changing now.

“Pe­op­le no lon­ger wish to hand over the jobs to car­pen­ters and cha­se them – ins­te­ad they are loo­king at mo­re pro­fes­sio­nal op­ti­ons li­ke Big Baza­ar and Ho­me Fur­ni­tu­re to ca­ter to the­se ne­eds. Ho­we­ver, what In­di­a now ne­eds is a ma­jor fur­ni­tu­re re­tai­ler li­ke Ikea, whe­re one can buy high qua­lity fur­ni­tu­re from.”

Rag­hu­nath, ma­na­ger – pro­jects, In­ners­pa­ce, from Hyde­ra­bad, adds: “The way In­di­ans used to as­so­cia­te themsel­ves with te­ak wo­od fur­ni­tu­re is not much in de­mand com­pa­red to 10 ye­ars ago. Pe­op­le are in­te­res­ted mo­re in lo­ok and func­ti­ona­lity. Plywo­od and MDF sell right now, and im­por­ted furni­tu­re has co­me very much in­to vogu­e.”

Fur­ni­tu­re to­day is de­sig­ned with a pri­mary fo­cus on func­ti­ona­lity, and is pre­fe­rably fac­tory- or re­ady­-ma­de for a bet­ter fi­nish and qu­ic­ker de­li­very.

The seg­ment of con­su­mers with uni­qu­e tas­tes in de­sign and ma­te­ri­al ha­ve ac­cess to de­sign-ba­sed offerings that are in­crea­singly popular. Poo­ja Mal­hot­ra and Go­pi­ka Pa­rekh, de­sig­ners working for The Fuch­si­a La­ne, Mum­ba­i, be­lie­ve that each In­di­an hou­se has cha­rac­ter and a story to tell, and find that pe­op­le are open to ide­as – li­ke mi­xing dif­fe­rent de­signs and pat­terns in the­ir in­te­ri­ors, fu­si­on in ma­te­ri­als and de­sign, and a blend of clas­si­cal and con­tem­po­rary.

Knowled­ge of the cli­ent in terms of pre­fe­ren­ces in new pro­ducts and designs has ur­ged the mar­ket to provi­de the la­test and best-qua­lity pro­ducts, on par with in­ter­na­tio­nal stan­dards.

Hars­hal Shin­de, ow­ner, Wud­craft, Hyde­ra­bad, says: “Cli­ent awa­re­ness puts a re­ver­se pres­su­re on the sel­ler to up­gra­de his pro­ducts and me­et the de­mands in the mar­ket in terms of qua­lity, du­ra­bi­lity and fi­nish. Ini­ti­ally it may re­sult in a cer­ta­in amo­unt of mone­tary loss, but in the lon­ger run we can­not for­get that we are he­re to ma­ke go­od things and not just money.”

“Comp­lex fur­ni­tu­re has be­en re­le­ga­ted to the an­nals of his­tory – the prac­ti­cal cli­ent to­day is loo­king at stra­ight-li­ned, simple, con­tem­po­rary de­signs”

Du­e to the cur­rent re­vo­lu­ti­on in the wor­king en­vi­ron­ment, the fur­ni­tu­re in this seg­ment has chan­ged considerably. Most com­pa­ni­es to­day are shif­ting to a mo­dern or­ga­ni­sa­ti­on cul­tu­re and loo­king at fle­xi­bi­lity and com­fort as two ma­jor fac­tors when de­sig­ning work­sta­ti­ons.

Ma­no­har Gopal, di­rec­tor, Fe­at­her­li­te Gro­up, Ben­ga­lu­ru, says: “If yo­u lo­ok at the trend ear­li­er, it was mo­re cu­bic­le-based de­sign. To­day, pe­op­le are loo­king for mo­re open­ness in the office, and lo­we­ring wall he­ights. They want to go gre­en, so par­ti­ti­ons are ma­de open from be­low for pro­per air cir­cu­la­ti­on, and ste­el is be­ing replaced by par­tic­lebo­ard and MDF, as ste­el ab­sorbs energy and air condi­tio­ning.”

Spea­king of the cur­rent chan­ge in the wor­king cul­tu­re, Kar­tik Shet­hi­a, na­tio­nal sa­les ma­na­ger, Her­man Mil­ler Fur­ni­tu­re (In­di­a), Ben­ga­lu­ru, says: “The trend is mo­ving to­wards the mo­bi­le of­fi­ce. Un­li­ke ear­li­er ti­mes, when every in­di­vi­du­al had the­ir specific work­sta­ti­ons, any­body can co­me in­to the of­fi­ce and work on any ava­ilab­le work­sta­ti­on be­cau­se the trend is to­wards a shared of­fi­ce scena­ri­o, whe­re pe­op­le are tra­vel­ling or wor­king from ho­me. We ha­ve se­en so­me lar­ge cor­po­ra­tes mo­ving in that di­rec­ti­on, and it is de­fi­ni­tely the fu­tu­re of of­fi­ce fur­ni­tu­re.”

Anil Vak­de, bu­si­ness development ma­na­ger, Ha­worth Indi­a, Ben­ga­lu­ru, adds: “We are desig­ning to cut down the use of spa­ce. De­sig­na­ted spa­ces such as work­sta­ti­ons and clo­sed of­fi­ce and rec­re­ati­on are­as was the ear­li­er trend – now the ide­a is to try and use all the are­as for yo­ur work, so you ha­ve por­ta­bi­lity and fle­xi­bi­lity.” This is the typi­cal fu­tu­re trend – from big lu­xu­rio­us work­sta­ti­ons to mo­re func­tio­nal and smaller spa­ces.


The design of a space is an expression of personality and style. Drapery and upholstery play an important role in uplifting the visual aesthetics of any given space. The use of fabrics changes with season, trends and customer preferences.

Monica Kamal, owner, Megamode International, New Delhi says: “Changes in the fabric industry are constant. Buyers are conscious when it comes to selecting for their homes – they want their selection to be the latest in terms of trends, while meeting the look that they desire at the same time.”

She adds that there has been a complete change in the thought process of the user – they are experimenting with new colour schemes and designs with a certain level of dynamism and uncertainty.

Demand for newer styles with colourful abstract and printed patterns has been observed nationwide. While deciding on the product, users consider factors such as durability of the fabric, comfort level and maintenance cost. Devesh Sharma, partner, Studio Zynna, Gurgaon, says: “Architects act as the main clients while deciding on fabrics, as the end-user is highly influenced by their recommendations. A major chunk of our business operates on the high net income segment of society, who regularly demand a change in their fabric needs over a period of approximately three years.”


The importance of lighting in defining ambiance is uncontested. However, industry members say lighting is not usually a priority in the overall interiors budget. Ditul Mehta, director, Light Square, Bengaluru says: “Lighting comes last in any project, especially for residents, so it depends on how much money people have left to spend.”

Amith Mehta, CEO, Light Art, Chennai, adds: “We provide a few high-end brands for some key spaces, and balance it out by giving some budget brands for other spaces for people who have a limited budget. The more products you show them, the more they get exposed and open up to new ideas. People are still learning about the industry.”

The high cost of LEDs, when introduced, made them impossible to incorporate in budget-constrained projects. But today, as costs have subsided, people are showing significant interest in LEDs. Dilip Kumbhat, MD K-Lite Industries, Chennai, says: “LEDs are quickly taking over CFLs as they are energy-efficient, compact, better designed, and have come out for various applications. The architects also don’t want to use the same products in different projects – they would like to use new designs wherever possible.”

“For the next fi­ve ye­ars, fur­ni­tu­re sec­tor out­put is ex­pec­ted to grow by 15% per ye­ar”

Ac­cor­ding to a study by the World Bank, the or­ga­nised international fur­ni­tu­re in­dustry is ex­pec­ted to grow by 20% each ye­ar, and In­di­a, Bra­zil and Rus­si­a will wit­ness a bo­om. The bran­ded furniture mar­ket, com­pri­sing re­si­dential and com­mer­ci­al fur­ni­tu­re, was va­lu­ed at US$1.3b in 2008, and was expected to re­ach US$3.7b in 2012, according to a re­port by KPMG.

The bo­om in the In­di­an furni­tu­re in­dustry has got a lot to do with the gro­wing hou­sing and tou­rism sec­tor. So much so, that for the next fi­ve ye­ars, fur­ni­tu­re sec­tor out­put is ex­pec­ted to grow by 15% per ye­ar. Cur­rently the­re are only 10,500 furni­tu­re im­por­ters in the or­ga­ni­sed sec­tor, and they ma­inly im­port from Italy, Ger­many, Spa­in and Ma­lay­si­a, according to Eco­nomy Watch.

India today

According to India Now! More Than Ever, a report by Index Media Consulting: “India is ranked eighth in terms of consumption in the world. The organised furniture industry is estimated at around US$8b and is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of about 25-30% annually. The modular furniture market in India, estimated at about US$160m, is dominated by bigger players such as Godrej and BP Ergo.

“The market size of the international range of premium furniture is estimated to be worth about US$20m, and is serviced by foreign players. The current imports are mainly from Italy, Germany, Spain, China, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Japan.

“The furniture market in India is mainly concentrated in A-, B- and C-class cities. It is estimated that the top 784 urban centres contribute 41% to the total consumer furniture market. A- and B-type cities together contribute 33% of the total market.

“There are about 5000 firms in the domestic organised sector, and nearly 10,500 importers of furniture. India imports around US$150m worth of furniture, growing rapidly and catering to urban, affluent households.”

India’s major players include furniture retailing giants Pantaloon, Shoppers’ Stop, Trent, RPG, Vishal Retail, Reliance and Tata Group. Industry names to watch include Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Co, BP Ergo, Featherlite, Haworth, Style Spa, Renaissance, Millenium Lifestyles, Durian, Kian, Tangent, Furniture Concepts, Furniturewalla, Zuari, N R Jasani & Company and PSL Modular Furniture.

“In terms of furnishings, the Indian home furnishings market is estimated at $3.5b and is expected to reach $5.6b by 2015,” the report continues. “The luxury furnishings market comprises 3% of the market and is growing at 25-30% per annum.

“Who’s buying? India has seen a shift in consumer profile for luxury furniture and furnishings. Earlier, the main clientele were the usual suspects – industrialists, Bollywood celebrities or luxury hotels. But now, CEOs of multinational corporations and banks, real estate barons and well-heeled socialites are the new consumers of luxury.”

Key Indian brands include Roseby’s, D’decor Home, Dicitex, Maishaa, Address Home, Onset, Ishatvam and Zaza Home. The key international players in India include Pottery Barn, Macy’s, Ethan Allen, Zara Home, Bloomingdales, Brun de Vian-Tiran, Versace, Corneliani and Fendi Casa.


UBM Index Tradefairs (Mumbai) takes place between 14-17th November

Indian Handicrafts & Gifts Fair (EPCH), held between 15-18th October at Greater Noida, New Delhi

Key associations

Association of Furniture Manufacturers & Traders (AFMT)

Association of Furniture Manufacturers of India (AFMI)

Indian Society of Lighting Engineers (ISLE)

Indian Exhibition Industry Association (IEIA)

Indo-Turkish Business Association


Federation of Rajasthan Handicraft Exporters (FORHEX)

Sylvia Khan is the editor and creative head of IFJ (Index Furniture Journal), The Indian Review of World Interiors & Design, and a director of UBM-Index Fairs India. The bulk of this article is from the IFJ Trend Survey, an authoritative study of the Indian interiors market.

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