One of the buzzwords of our day and age is definitely sharing. Not just on social networks, where even the most intimate and private moments become public, but also in the social sphere in the wider sense of the term, leading to a major change in humankind: the myth of individual ownership is being reshaped in a radical way, in favor of a more circular economy.
Purchase and accumulation have lost their appeal, especially in the eyes of the new generation, and the disposable approach to goods has become obviously unsustainable, in both economic and environmental terms.
For these reasons, companies are springing up with an orientation towards ongoing leasing of furniture, the (re)sharing of flexible goods, with the advantage of reducing expenditures but also reducing consumption and, as a result, the wasting of resources and objects.
After cars and bicycles – examples of “sharing” that are now part of common practice – the world of furniture is stepping into the ring. In fact: in 2021, to purchase home furnishings, Italians have often relied on consumer credit, with financing in this area that has grown by 11.8% over the previous year, for an overall value of €1.8 billion. Many such consumers might have preferred to rent their furniture, rather than having to pay for it on the installment plan.
Furthermore: in 2022, a report by the American Society of Interior Designers revealed that over half of the consumers surveyed would be ready to change purchasing methods, “to make a contribution to reduction of negative environmental impact.” This is an important factor, if we consider the fact that Americans throw away about 12 million tons of furniture each year.
On a private basis, people are already doing it. Also in Italy, there are growing numbers of groups, under the heading “if you want it come and get it,” offering free gifts of furniture and other items in exchange for dismantling and transport.
Someone has noticed this as a business opportunity, and above all in the USA many furniture rental websites are springing up (from Fülhaus to Feather to ZZ Driggs), where instead of directly buying articles like chairs, beds and sofas, people have the option of paying month by month, and of returning the items to the company when no longer wanted.
Since sale, shipping and swapping are often considered bothersome, most of these online firms provide services of delivery, installation and/or disassembly. The sector is evolving rapidly, while the focus on savings and sustainability is opening up to new “green” models.
In Italy the company Compass Rent of Compass Banca, specialized in long-term rental services, has been one of the first to notice this new trend. Already during the last Milano Design Week, in fact, it presented a rental initiative for the world of décor, with the aim of offering producers and dealers the option of renting furniture to their clients.
In particular, Flip is an initiative developed together with Egoitaliano, a Matera-based producer of sofas and upholstered furniture, which allows consumers to rent a sofa for 40 months, paying a monthly fee. At the end of the period, the consumer can opt to complete the purchase, or to choose new furniture from the same dealer. In the latter case, the materials and parts of the old sofa are recovered and utilized to make regenerated products to put back on the market at reasonable prices.
Consumers thus have the possibility of periodically updating their décor, in keeping with the (new) needs and trends of the moment, while producers can cut production costs and reduce disposal to a minimum, bringing advantages for all.
Likewise, and again in collaboration with Compass, the Contract District Group has brought long-term furniture rentals for the first time into the real estate sector, launching a service for singles and families who prefer renting to purchasing. Entering a new home, it is possible to decide to rent the furnishings entirely, rather than buying the goods and paying a single lump sum.
Furthermore: at the end of the furniture’s life cycle, or when renovation of apartment interiors becomes necessary, Contract District Group guarantees total or partial substitution. Only in Milan, at the moment, there is also a “Refresh” service for properties, through which to get maximum potential out of a flat, in an action performed prior to rental of the property to a new tenant. This long-term rental formula is available for all the products and partner brands of Contract District Group: from kitchens to carpets, lights to drapes.
“The home furnishings rental market in Europe is still in its early stages with respect to other countries like Australia and the United States, but major evolutions are happening that should speed its growth,” says the general director of Compass Rent, Nicola de Cesare. For the moment, what is important is not to simply watch from the wings.