A sofa for two people with chaise longue from the Berlin furniture designer Noah Living, 46 euros. A table of premium quality and design to eat in the living room from the Black Forest (southwest Germany), 11 euros. Cushions from the Madrilenian brand Carpets Étnicas, specialized in fabrics from the Andean highlands, 2 euros.
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The real price of those high-end products is not that. Suffice it as an example to know that the sofa with chaise longue It actually costs almost 3,300 euros. However, for 46 euros a month, the start-up muniquesa Frently makes it available to anyone who wants to pay that rent.
Frently’s business is precisely to rent high-quality products with the “sustainable” seal in order, they say, to combat the usual dynamic that consists of buying cheap furniture and then discarding it after a short time. That’s why the six-person team that makes up this small company call themselves “furniture activists.”
“The furniture industry is one of the largest in the world, but unfortunately it is also one of the most polluting. In Europe, every year 10.5 million tons of furniture ends up in the garbage every year. This is a big environmental pollution problem and also an astronomical use of resources”, they point out in Frently to justify why the Baumann brothers embarked on the adventure of creating a start-up Of furniture.
Raphael Baumann, CEO of the firm, and his three brothers are behind the company. They are the hard core of this furniture rental business.
“Now, the materials used in the most commonly purchased furniture are not of high quality. In the sector, it has generally been assumed that, using these types of cheap materials, the furniture has to be changed every so often. They are cheap furniture, but they don’t last long,” he tells ElDiario.es Raphaël Baumann. “Thinking about the furniture business in this way is fatal for the environment,” he adds.
Hence, the founding idea of Frently is to provide its customers with access to quality products made to last. The intention of changing the way in which furniture is consumed to benefit the environment is what has made the Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel say that Frently furniture is “furniture with morals”.
It helps to see the activity of the Baumann brothers and their team in this way that the company is donating 1% of its income to support environmental causes. As a business, Frently is part of the NGO “1% for the Planet”, an initiative created precisely to help companies and individuals channel their desire to contribute to organizations dedicated to environmental struggles.
Founded in 2002 in the United States, this NGO has obtained in two decades the financing of environmental groups with 250 million dollars (220.7 million euros).
Frently’s furniture, which at the moment is only established in Munich and Berlin, also tries to be durable because, according to the selection made by the Baumanns and company, the styles of furniture that they rent are rather timeless. They do not look like furniture that can be victims of the passage of any fashion.
Furniture that only “lasts a long time” is rented
Furthermore, if Frenlty furniture lasts, it is because “we know how to take care of furniture, we know how to repair it, because you have to know that when we talk about good furniture, it can be repaired, in general, very well; damages can be corrected and, thus, after a revision and repair they can be rented again as if they were new”, explains Baumann.
Among his brothers and his team there are specialists in carpentry and furniture manufacturing. To avoid a great environmental impact, its products are regional. As far away, the furniture comes from companies in other European countries. Other regions of the planet, with worse working conditions for workers, are cheaper when buying furniture. Among those European firms there are big international names and small local companies.
“What matters to us is that they are furniture that can be kept in use for a long time, in addition to the fact that during the manufacture of the furniture there are not many emissions, because it is in the furniture manufacturing process where there are more carbon dioxide emissions. ”, according to Baumann.
The CEO of Frently alludes to one of the greenhouse gases with the greatest responsibility for global warming. According to the accounts they do in Frently, in 2020, the first year of activity of this start-up Germany, through his company there was a saving of 26,582 kilograms of carbon dioxide.
The rental of sustainable furniture from Frently, a priori, may be of interest to that young urban consumer who, for work or studies, for example, does not yet have his own furniture for the apartment in which he lives. Daniel, another of the Bollmanns, explained that Frenlty’s offer is aimed at “young people who are taking their first steps in the world of work and who do not want to have the typical Ikea furniture, but who also do not have the budget to buy sustainable furniture.
Furnish a room in a shared flat: 35 euros per month
Thus, for example, furnishing a room in a shared flat with Frently furniture, according to the calculations presented by the company itself, including a bed, a mattress, a lamp, a desk and a chair, costs 35 euros per month. Paying for that furniture from Frently to tocateja would come out at 2,371 euros.
Baumann points out that his company is also aimed at those who want to try what it is like to have this type of furniture. “There are people who want to try and think if they like to have this type of furniture. We also offer these the possibility of buying the furniture after the rental contract”, says Baumann.
Although at the moment his company only rents furniture in Berlin and Munich, Baumann does not hide his desire to expand. Its business model is already well exploited in the United States. Frently happens to be a pioneer in Europe in the rental of sustainable furniture. Whether they will be successful remains to be seen. The company is currently looking for investors.
But there is something, initially difficult, that the Bollmanns have already achieved: launching a company in the middle of a pandemic that has slowed down many sectors of the world economy. “Our industry, the furniture industry, has not suffered major impacts from the pandemic. On the contrary, many people have become interested in the furniture of their houses so that they are beautiful inside”, concludes Baumann.