Horizon Scanning: Guide to New Hardline and Softline Materials

Horizon Scanning: Guide to New Hardline and Softline Materials
2nd March, 2021

At a glance:

A review of what is and could be on the horizon for the furniture sector in terms of alternative materials, and the pressures from specific consumer groups which might accelerate their adoption


Today’s consumers demand several things from furniture designers and manufacturers, including choice in materials, performance, a degree of individuality or customisation, environmental credentials, sustainable materials and of course safety, all within a varied and competitive price range.

To achieve a number of these, our current regulatory framework may require the use of chemicals - particularly those which aim to prevent staining or discolouration, wear and particularly ignition resistance is an ongoing challenge.

When considering new materials technology and product design in other sectors of industry, for example aerospace, automotive, marine or outdoor pursuits, it is highly likely that some of these materials could also be suitable for use within the furnishings sector and may provide solutions to the ever increasing challenges on chemical use and /or sustainability.

As legislation in these industries can significantly vary from furniture and furnishings, it may not be understood if these new materials would be fit for purpose within the furniture sector or whether they are capable of meeting industry requirements for strength, durability or flame resistance

Sections within this guide include:

  • Furniture – innovation, restrictions and standards
  • Alternatives to leather including mushroom-based, pineapple leaf, kelp-based, cactus-based, apple based and food waste materials
  • Alternatives to wood including hempwood, bamboo, wood composites, lab-grown wood, paper-based materials, micro cement and wood transformation technologies
  • Bioplastics
  • Filling materials
  • Alternatives to synthetic textiles
  • Chemical treatments
  • Smart textiles
  • Additive manufacturing

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