10 Jun 2015

Over twenty years promoting creativity in the furniture business

Furniture stopped having a purely practical function long time ago. The value of a chair is no longer determined only by its comfort or its utility, qualities that are taken for granted they have, but also of how it combines with the rest of the furniture in the room in which it is located.

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"We are facing an increasingly versatile, creative sector, where interior design leaves nothing to chance and where everything that is designed is to generate feelings," says José Francisco Puche Forte, director of the Technological Centre of Furniture and Wood of the Region of Murcia (CETEM).

A reality that has long ceased to go unnoticed to companies in the furniture sector. They have seen how their business opportunities have been greatly expanded thanks to the work of CETEM in over more than twenty years. "One of our goals has been to introduce the design as a tool for value-added businesses. We needed to break the 'cultural barriers' separating designers and entrepreneurs in order to generate innovative and increasingly efficient processes", says Puche.

An engine for the development of talent


To promote and strengthen this culture of design, technology and innovation, CETEM launched a few years ago a competition for high school students, the Design Olympiad, which just this year celebrated its eleventh edition. "This competition, in which young students participate, increasingly serves for kids to realize of the difficulty of the process of creation and design, a job that involves a lot of effort and a balanced harmony between creativity, innovation, manufacturability and functionality, key aspects that make a product whether or not successful in the market”, adds the director of CETEM.

Indeed, in response to a growing demand for skilled workers by companies, the center launched several years ago, in collaboration with the University of Murcia, the first official masters degree of the sector: the Master in the Design and Industrial Organization for the furniture and wood sector. Its aim is to train professionals through advanced and specialized training in the management of innovation and new technologies so that, after the course, they are able to run their own projects in innovation. "It was an initiative of entrepreneurs, who were in a situation of necessity, since they hired people, mostly industrial engineers, who, despite having a great theoretical knowledge, were absolutely unaware of the reality of the furniture sector" points out Puche.

With initiatives like this, today the furniture industry in the Region of Murcia is one of the most competitive in the national and international scene. Proof of this is the growing participation of firms from Murcia in prestigious international fairs such as Milan (iSaloni), which proves there has been a dramatic change in the mentality of the companies. "Before we went to these fairs to see and copy the market trends, but since a couple of decades ago, coinciding with the launch of CETEM, companies began to understand that the key to success lies in the originality of its products and its design. Today we are competing with major international firms, selling our all over the world”, says the director of CETEM.