Leo Lübke, Managing Director of interlübke
Leo Lübke, Managing Director of interlübke

A housing study for their birthday

How do Germans reside? An interesting question both for designers and furniture manufacturers. interlübke, the long-established company from Rheda-Wiedenbrück, Germany, thought so, too, and ordered an independent opinion poll for their 75th anniversary.

“Deutschland privat – So leben und wohnen die Deutschen 2012” (Germany in private – Living and residing 2012) is the title of the representative study, which has been conducted by TNS Emnid, who have questioned 1,000 Germans, age 14 and above. Some of the study’s findings will surprise both designers and furniture manufacturers. Contrary to design visions and trends, Germans tend to reside conservatively: Kitchens (73%), living rooms (51%) and bedrooms (85%) are seldom combined with other rooms. Solely living-dining-rooms are appreciated by four out of ten. Loft-like open rooms which designers and architects would like to see more often, remain the exception (5%). But this does not cause discontent among residents. Eight out of ten study participants stated that they have the perfect housing. Only little things, such as single pieces of furniture (7%) and small refurbishments (4%) are lacking to perfect happiness.  

Klaus-Peter Schöppner, CEO TNS Emnid
Klaus-Peter Schöppner, CEO TNS Emnid

Three to six rooms, 96 square metres, white walls and light furniture fronts

“Residing is resistant to change”, says Leo Lübke, Managing Director of interlübke. That can for one be explained by the fact that 19 out of 20 participants think of their housing as a means to express their own taste. Layouts are another problem, according to Lübke: They simply do not allow for new design ideas to be implemented. Therefor, you would have to make a distinction between role models in the media and the real conditions of German residents. Designers should find new solutions for existing housings, instead of chasing visions that can primarily be realised in new builds.

The average German housing consists of three to six rooms (including kitchen and bathroom) and has 96 square metres. Its colour design is primarily held in natural (wood, soft colours), light and white tints (71%). 61 per cent say the living room is the most important place in their home. It has to have a sitting room suit (95%), a TV and pictures (both 88%). Wallpapers (64%) and rugs (61%), however, are losing their importance.  

Werner Aisslinger, designer
Werner Aisslinger, designer
"studimo" bookshelf series by interlübke
"studimo" bookshelf series by interlübke

Quality housing and high quality interior are important for every age group

Quality housing (68%) is more important to most of the study’s participants than leisure time (58%) and holiday (33%). Surprisingly, the car, supposedly the Germans “favourite child”, leads a shadow existence compared to housing. A meagre 37% claim it to be very important. In the younger generation the number decreases to one in four. It is hardly a surprise that all age groups value high quality interior. Functionality (96%) and longevity (93%) are the most important factors, exceeding the interior’s price tag (89%).

Over the long haul, this results in home collages, which are the future for designer Werner Aisslinger. He sees the challenge in “designing system furniture that looks custom made”, to follow the consumer’s desire for expressing themselves through their housing. Furthermore, long-lasting furniture with a modular character can be rebuilt, relocated and reconfigured, addressing the needs of the elderly beforehand. This is reflected in the price, because “design is made in the upper price segment, adapted by the middle and copied by the bottom.” Aisslinger believes that in decoupling technology from furniture and fixed rooms (see: TVs and the iPad), flexible new residential forms can emerge, replacing the conservative status quo of German housing.  

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