In living or dining rooms across Kenya, the furniture is the centrepiece. Large seats, dining tables and other furniture tend to dominate the room.
This, says HomeArt managing director, Bahri Akkoyunlu, is one of the trends that differentiates the Kenyan market from European cities such as London.
“Kenyan market likes bulky sets unlike in Europe where we like to blend the furniture into the room, basically in the air of the house. It does not shout ‘I am Furniture’. We keep it smaller but still as ergonomically perfect as larger pieces,” he says.
Mr Akkoyunlu has tapped into Turkey through an exclusive franchise agreement with Dogtas to import furniture to Kenya.
Turkey in Kenya is synonymous with carpets and textiles.
For HomeArt, Kenyans are already familiar with Turkish brands and they cost about 40 per cent to 30 per cent less than Italian or French home accessories.
“Dogtas has over 300 stores globally. It has an international understanding of its customers. We had a conversation on how to tailor the products to the African market,” he says.
Kenyans love solid wood which, Mr Akkoyunlu says, is at times complicated and is not good for the environment.
“Our products are made from MDF but we can use solid wood veneer with the same look and it protects the environment and comes in different colours,” he explains.
Selling ‘smaller’ furniture pieces and steering consumers away from hardwoods to a hardwood-looking finish is one of the alternatives that the brand has undertaken.
“They look smaller but they are basically the same size. In Africa, people love high seats. We will also be making high seats for this market, but they dominate the room,” he says.
According Mr Akkoyunlu, this is a relatively unfamiliar trend in European markets as most buyers prefer muted pieces with a single statement piece in the room.
The monobrand store in Nairobi is set up in complete concepts from the living room, dining room to the bedroom, allowing shoppers to visualise before buying the pieces.
In a market dominated by cheap Chinese imports and imitations, the Turkish brand is faced with the challenge of gaining a competitive edge.
“You will always get imitations but they will not be as durable,” he says.
The Kenyan market already has established furniture shops including Victoria Courts, Odds & Ends and Panesars, that have become household names but also awakened demand for high quality yet affordable furniture.
Beyond the simplicity and quality, most of the Dogtas pieces are functional.
The beds have hidden compartments for storing duvets. The simple looking L-shaped sofa unfolds into a full bed, complete with an under compartment to stow away those extra pillows.
The dining set can be extended to accommodate two extra people with the additional compartment neatly tucked away after use with a simple slide-and-fold.
The latest trend of drawers under the bed or even a stow away bed seem to have caught on in the market. This informed the brand’s addition of a range of beds that lift entirely to fit in all those extra blankets and pillows that take up no extra closet space.