For style-savvy hipsters in Taipei, going furniture shopping can be frustrating. The do-it-yourself furniture at IKEA is often poor quality, while the clusters of warehouses at Wugu (
The exclusive, high-priced luxuries made by top brand empires, such as Armani Casa and Fendi Casa, are for big wallets or purses only.
As for local talent, it seems that our furniture designers still have a long way to go in terms of market visibility and customer loyalty.
With these limited options busy urbanites usually turn to interior designers for furniture arrangements when buying new homes or doing renovations.
But there is help at hand for a new breed of furniture shoppers who don't mind paying a little bit more for furniture that goes well with the rest of the house.
A furniture planner at a trendy-looking furniture shop on Renai Road, Stanley Lo (
Whether it's classical, neo-classical, modernist, minimalist or even art deco, furniture planners are there to realize your wildest domestic dreams.
The tailor-made items cost two to three times more than mass produced items, on average. This means you have to spend about NT$60,000 to NT$100,000 for a sofa set in your living room. From a planner's point of view, it's a fair price to pay since what is offered is an integrated concept, including planning and furniture arrangement.
"When customers surf at different stores for different pieces of furniture, it's quite likely that they will purchase items that clash with each other in style and texture. What follows is that you are going to have a house that lacks a clear motif. That's where we come in, to solve the problem by offering professional viewpoints, communicating with the customers in terms of what they want, setting up clear directions and helping them to create the ideal home," Lo said.
It's a fair point when you consider the popular TV shows in which people proudly present their expensive houses crammed with oddly matched furniture.
Another advantage of tailor-made furniture is its flexibility, in terms of size and proportion.
"Mass production has its own restrictions. The furniture only comes in limited sets of sizes to fit in the house. As each house has its own different interior space, we can take the measurements before manufacturing the items and make the furniture perfectly proportionate to the space," Lo said.
When asked why customers should go to planners instead of interior designers, Lo said, "We are not trying to become their adversaries, though we do believe furniture is as important as interior design.
"We aim to provide an inclusive concept of planning by taking the whole interior space into consideration. We actually work with designers, together with customers, to create furnishings that are in harmony with the spatial design and arrangement of their homes."
A close relationship with factories and distributors means the planners have more than enough resources to produce a lot of furniture in accordance with customers' tastes, needs and lifestyles.
Furniture planning is an emerging market but it looks like all the elements for growth are in place.