Product Development in Large Furniture Companies: A Descriptive Model with Implications for Character-Marked Products


  • Matthew S. Bumgardner
  • Robert J. Bush
  • Cynthia D. West


Character-marks, hardwood furniture, product development, product design, triangulation


Previous research has shown that substantial yield improvements are possible when character-marks are not removed from hardwood furniture parts. Attempts to promote increased use of character-marked wood in furniture should be based on an understanding of how design concepts originate and move through the stages of product development. However, very little has been published concerning the product development process in the furniture industry. This study sought to expand knowledge of the activities involved in furniture product development and to explain character-mark decisions in terms of the product development process. Data gathered from in-depth interviews and a follow-up mail survey of large furniture manufacturers were used to develop a 14-stage product development model. While decisions concerning use of character-marks occurred throughout the development process, such decisions were more common as the process proceeded; few companies considered character-marks in the earliest stages of product development. Certain stages in the model emerged as particularly important to character use, such as those involving mock-ups and evaluation of designer sketches. By identifying the activities that take place in these important stages, barriers to acceptance of character-marked furniture can be better understood and addressed.


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Research Contributions