Congress “KURZER PROZESS” took place on 16.02.23 at the FURNITURE FUTURE FORUM in Bünde, Germany

Innovative strength and resilience for products and companies were the focus of the FURNITURE FUTURE FORUM in Bünde on Thursday 16 February 2023 under the motto “Kurzer Prozess”.

What do surface technology and corporate governance have in common? It comes down to the characteristics – and these include innovative strength and resilience. These terms were on the agenda of the FURNITURE FUTURE FORUM on 16 February under the motto “Ways out of the crisis” and attracted almost 100 industry participants to the networking centre in Bünde. The half-day format highlights technological innovations in an annual rhythm – which is why it is always called “Short Process” in February. Because when it comes to the future viability of products and companies, the furnishing industry has no time to lose.

Mushroom mycelium as a future-oriented raw material

This also applies to mushrooms, which are known to just spring up out of the ground and, as biomass that can be produced quickly and reliably, represent an opportunity for new materials, as Michael Daubner explained. With mushroom mycelium structures, his w3 GmbH offers a new, innovative raw material for furniture production. Because, as he himself demonstrated on stage, the “Xbrick grown” is light, sustainably resilient and multifunctional. Mushroom biotechnology opens up possibilities to replace petroleum-based products with natural mushroom-plant composites – and to break them down at the end of their useful life through composting. “There is a lot of research and development going on in biotechnology. A paradigm shift is possible,” says Daubner.

Digitisation as a competitive advantage

Digitalisation has already passed this point, having long since permeated all areas of life. Two experts from the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechatronic Design IEM made suggestions on how digitalisation can become a competitive advantage: Andreas Klein, Senior Expert in the Digital Transformation Unit, and Christian Kürpick, Research Associate in the Digital Transformation Unit, began by addressing how diverse the challenges are for the furniture industry – a shortage of skilled workers, sustainability and supply chains are just the most pressing issues. In response, digitalisation can reduce the complexity of these issues from a management perspective in order to make decisions and focus on the core business. According to Fraunhofer, the four key fields of action for digitalisation are 1. culture 2. technology 3. competencies 4. organisation & budgeting. Supply chains can be precisely controlled, but the consistency of data along the supply chain is the decisive prerequisite for this – incidentally also in order to be able to precisely determine the CO2 footprint in the future. In the customer journey, too, not all possibilities have been exhausted by far to offer the end consumer an exciting digital shopping experience. For individual companies, however, it is important to formulate a mission statement for digitisation in their own company – taking into account the consequences for employees: “Digitisation always has personal aspects as well,” says Andreas Klein.

The network doesn’t skimp on pampering its guests.

About digitalisation as an instrument of the circular economy

reported Managing Director Dr. Olaf Plümer and IDM Working Group Leader Anika Degenhard from the Daten Competence Center e.V. in Herford. Stamm- und Produktdaten ermöglichen einen durchgängigen Austausch von eindeutigen Informationen zwischen Handel und Industrie und damit die effiziente Durchführung von Geschäftsprozessen. Die IDM-Formate sind frei verfügbar und werden inzwischen auf der ganzen Welt genutzt – und kontinuierlich weiterentwickelt wie z.B. im Bereich Beanstandungsmanagement oder neuerdings mit Hochdruck im Kontext der Kreislaufwirtschaft. Denn die ESPR-Verordnung schreibt einen digitalen Produktpass vor, um die Voraussetzung für eine funktionierende und nachvollziehbare Circular Economy im europäischen Wirtschaftsraum zu ermöglichen. „Dabei gilt es noch viele Fragen über die Struktur, die Inhalte, die Datenhaltung und die -verteilung zu klären, aber die Branchenverbände haben sich auf den Weg gemacht, um Enabler zu sein“, sagt Dr. Olaf Plümer.

In the News Ticker, Stefan Lorscheider, Head of Coordination Lacquering, and Julian Schulz, Sales Manager Foil at Schattdecor SE, describe the development of furniture surfaces. While decorative surfaces were initially entry-level price products, they are now high-tech items with good durability. One driver for this: Ikea. Because the Swedes wanted to become (more) independent of wood-based material manufacturers and thus promoted the further development of decorative foils into a resilient everyday product. Today, they also set standards in terms of sustainability and consumer protection – while maintaining the same demands on product properties. The next big thing: thermoplastic substrates with recycled PET content, developed together with Finedecor.

Sonae Arauco, founding member of the FURNITURE FUTURE FORUM, completed the news ticker with a status update on the sustainability of wood-based materials. Christian Blecke, Senior Product Developer, and Simon Drath, Communication Manager, reminded us what a wonderful raw material wood is. It is recyclable in most cases and, compared to other building materials, it binds CO2 instead of emitting it during production. The circular economy is already a reality for Sonae Arauco: the group started recycling furniture and chipboard as early as the 1990s. In 2021, 800,000 tonnes of recycled wood were used. The biggest technical challenge at present: the return of MDF fibreboard to the product cycle. The greatest communicative challenge: strengthening the green awareness of consumers as a counter to the rampant “discountitis”. “With appropriate training offers and POS advertising, more added value could also be achieved,” Simon Drath is convinced.

The programme of the FURNITURE FUTURE FORUM, which is open all year round, continues with the presentation of the Trend Reports 2023 with the two topics “Future Work” by Iken Gierow (Joppich & Rieckhoff) and “Silver Society” by Irmy Wilms-Haverkamp (Köhler Wilms Product Design), on 15 June 2023.

Anyone interested is welcome to sign up for the invitation mailing list: