Most people believe that interior designing is not a business, but in stark contrast to that the field is turning out to be an emerging industry, at least in Punjab, and bringing together many other sectors while creating jobs.
Interior designing has always been linked with the privileged class in society, the main reason being affordability. Monopolised by a few brands, it was never considered a proper industry but the trend is now changing.
This change in status quo is primarily due to the emerging middle class. The urge to live luxuriously is creating room for young entrepreneurs to set up their own brands locally and internationally in the face of increasing consumer choices.
“We have been in this business since generations, now time has come to prove ourselves globally, since only 20% interiors/ furniture solutions are being provided by the organised sector, so one can imagine the potential in the local market,” said Shahzad Mughal, Director of Urban Elements and Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC).
The biggest problem facing the interior designers is the lack of modern technology and dearth of manpower. According to Mughal, international investors refuse to invest in this field, citing an almost non-existent industry.
“When we invited Germans to pump capital, they refused, pointing to the small size of this industry,” he said.
Hence, the first step will be to utilise the PFC platform with an aim to operate for the collective interests of designers, manufacturers and retailers. “This will organise the scattered industry, which will later become attractive for the foreigners to invest in,” said the PFC director.
The PFC was established last year with an objective to manage the interior design industry. It has organised some exhibitions to boost the potential, which it claims should be around $5 billion in the next few years.
The PFC is also working to establish multi-brand stores in different cities to provide one-window shopping opportunity for customers since 30% of the brands do not have retail outlets. “This will increase business opportunities and create highly-paid jobs for the youth,” Mughal said.
Industry experts believe that many elite players have started moving down to cater to the middle class by focusing on low-priced products while maintaining quality to meet the demand.
Interestingly, cities such as Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Sialkot and Peshawar have shown more appetite than Lahore.
“We are constantly contacted by people from these cities and the volume of our business in these areas is more than that in Lahore,” said Hamza Tarar, Chief Executive Officer of Casa Hamza, a Lahore-based furniture outlet.
According to him, the demand for interior designing has increased up to 400% in the past five years mainly due to the awareness among people.
The economic slowdown is proving to be a plus point as people have started investing in real estate and later developers have started constructing houses, requiring interior designers, he said.
“At present, 60% of our clients are from households and 40% are from the corporate sector,” Tarar added.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2014.
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