Among the French players in the outdoor industry, Lafuma Mobilier has distinguished itself over the last ten years by repositioning its ranges. After taking over the reins of the company in 2014, Arnaud du Mesnil built a development strategy with his teams based on these convictions: to bet on the value of French manufacturing and on the value brought by design, perfecting style and comfort, working in-house or calling on external designers like Big Game. The company is present on both markets, private and contract, and does not hesitate to “go outside” the box with capsule collections. The in-house design studio and Baptiste Neltner, director of marketing and collections, share their vision of the outdoor sector.
How have you seen the outdoor market evolve over the last ten years?
The last decade has been marked by a strong craze for outdoor spaces that have been designed as real living spaces in their own right. The COVID crisis, accompanied by a vital need to recharge at home, has further accentuated this trend with the creation of complete spaces: balcony, dining, lounge and poolside. We have also seen many people migrate to the countryside with larger homes and a desire for more generous and comfortable products, but also more environmentally friendly.
Have new segments appeared?
More than new segments, we notice the awareness of environmental issues by our customers and their desire to make their furniture last. They are looking for perennial pieces with a timeless design. They are more and more attentive to the place of manufacture and the carbon impact of their purchase. Moreover, with the pressure of real estate, we notice that the terraces are becoming denser with an increasing need for small formats.
What changes in consumer/user expectations have you noticed?
Ecodesign and the durability of materials are major areas of development for us, both in France and internationally. Our customers no longer want “disposable” products. Many of them buy spare parts from us, and our range is growing year after year.
What do you see in terms of industry players? Has this changed your positioning?
Lafuma Mobilier is already a major player in sustainable furniture, both in terms of product quality (5-year warranty) and environmental impact (eco-designed products, 100% local sourcing, reparability).
Has this changed your production processes?
Not particularly. We continuously improve our manufacturing processes with regular investments to further reduce our environmental impact. At the same time, we seek to offer more than just outdoor furniture by working on complete solutions for our customers. Today, we position ourselves as a local and responsible reference producer.
How have you been impacted by Covid?
This period was very complex with a very high demand that had to be served quickly, knowing that major tensions on supplies forced us to work almost on a day-to-day basis. Our teams were exemplary and particularly responsive.
Avez-vous une équipe de design intégrée ?
Nous avons une équipe de Design & Style intégrée au service Collections & Marketing. Tout est pensé et conçu dans nos ateliers de production à Anneyron (26) et dans l’Ain (01). Nous avons placé le Bureau d’études au centre de tous les services, comme une mini-usine, afin de placer le produit et la R&D au cœur de nos réflexions.
What do you gain from collaborations with external designers?
We work on our messages and our seasonal storytelling with partner communication agencies that give us another perspective on our brand and our collections. It is a beneficial step back that allows us to always position ourselves in the shoes of our customers and find the right way to let them know who we are and what we do.
Have you set up any special operations?
We have made many collaborations, such as with the French leather goods manufacturer Bleu de Chauffe or with the house of Jean-Paul Gaultier, the emblem of French fashion. We have also launched many contests or partnerships with actors of the made in France with similar values to ours, which allowed us to make known our expertise and our French know-how of excellence (label EPV obtained in 2021). There are many spin-offs in both print and digital, with a real craze for our sincere and transparent eco-design approach.
What major developments do you see in the design?
Unsurprisingly, we see that the basics of the business remain pillars of design. The sketching, modeling and prototyping phases really structure our thinking, but it is true that 3D printing has taken an important place and allows us to gain in efficiency and precision. Augmented reality also helps us to project our models in our customers’ environments and confirm their choice.
You announce a strong positioning in terms of CSR?
We work entirely with materials sourced and processed locally in France or in neighboring countries to limit our CO2 emissions, as well as to guarantee quality control and maximum durability of our ranges.
In terms of materials, our steel is up to 75% recycled, our aluminum 80%, our plastics 17% and our cardboard 100% with foam wedges made from recycled fishing nets. Our new carpets are made from recycled PET plastic bottles, and 2 years ago we introduced a 100% upcycled collection, called Nationale 7 by Lafuma Mobilier.
Our production meets the strictest standards in terms of pollutant emissions. Lastly, we have a policy of drastically reducing our production waste with numerous internal reuse/recovery projects.
How do you work with prescribers?
We work most often directly with our clients and our team of integrated space designers accompany them in the realization of the project. We are able to follow our partners from the moodboards to the realization of the complete design plans. We recently worked with Christele Ageorges with our small leather folders from our collaboration with Bleu de Chauffe that she selected for the Manufacture Royale de Lectoure. An incredible project!
What areas of research and development are essential for you?
The main and major issue for the sector is the control and reduction of its environmental impact:
- Limit our consumption by working on the durability of products and their reparability
- Continue to work with suppliers close to our manufacturing site to limit C02 emissions
- Commit to the quality of the materials and their resistance and that they require little maintenance for the user
- Work on the recyclability of products and their end-of-life treatment
What changes in usage do you perceive?
The multi-functionality of products with the development of in & outdoor uses is an important evolution.
The meal remains the reference purchase on the market with two types of offer: the first, very compact, that we address with our Balcony range and the second, more generous, represented by our Oron range. At the same time, there is a strong development of the lounge segment which we are actively working on.