The way furniture manufacturers will sell their product will change very quickly as the digital revolution takes hold. The Scm Group recently demonstrated its innovative “Close to Customer” project, based on the idea of Furniture on Demand.

In April, Scm demonstrated an interesting and possibly practical demonstration of the digital revolution 4.0 where the customer can use a simple interface to “draw” a piece of furniture he or she would like to buy; customising its shape, size, colour, etc. This is then produced on-the-spot, and delivered. It’s a “mini-factory on display” in a shopping centre and is claimed to cut associated transport costs and pollution. This is the ultimate in mass customisation, design, production and delivery, all in one step. It’s fully automated production but at the same time an expression of something unique and extreme customisation, which puts the customer at the heart of the process, so he becomes his own furniture designer.

The Furniture on Demand concept is the basis of the “Close to Customer” project that Scm Group unveiled to the world at the first IDEA Innovation Design Expo Area trade fair, running from 12 to 15 April in Italy. On a huge screen, a video presented the “mini-factory” installed in the shopping centre in Brianza, Milan province. The first prototype of the project dedicated to Furniture on Demand opens a captivating window onto what could be the future of furniture production. It will be a fully automated Scm machining centre that produces “live on demand”, the furniture that will be designed, starting from a ready-made portfolio of products, directly by customers, who will be able to immediately “take home” an object made with an industrial process, but which is the only one of its kind in the world.

The “Close to Customer” project, financed by the European Community, is the result of more than three years of research involving not just Scm, but 10 other European partners, including companies that are leaders in their sectors, as well as universities. It was conceived with the aim of supporting the furniture industry, providing real tools for responding to changes in the world market, by developing innovative methods and technologies for flexible and local production of sustainable and customised products, which are increasingly close to the customer in terms of the features offered, the production location, delivery times and price.