2.12 ACTAS – Advancing Contract Furniture through Design-Driven Servitization Strategies towards sustainable transition: activating, testing and adopting.

Francesco Zurlo
Novembre 2023
Ottobre 2025
Politecnico di Milano

Università degli Studi di Firenze, Politecnico di Torino, Sapienza Universita’ di Roma

2.12 ACTAS – Advancing Contract Furniture through Design-Driven Servitization Strategies towards sustainable transition: activating, testing and adopting.

Therefore, ACTAS aims to create contextualised design-driven strategies, methods, and pragmatic tools to support and guide Italian furniture companies and their relevant stakeholders (e.g., producers, suppliers, mediators, and service providers) in the supply chain and ecosystem in the sector to collectively experiment initiatives and strategies towards fulfilling a more green and sustainable future. Design and design-driven approaches will strategically empower and accompany furniture companies in this transition process at different levels, with a special focus on reforming new sustainable offerings – transforming from product-centric to service-oriented – and creating sustainable business models to transform the business logic.

In this project, “contract furniture” (B2B2C) is selected as the focal furniture market area to study and to make a pilot experimentation for testing the solutions/offering, business models and strategies. This focus presents characteristics intertwined with the sustainable transition: Contract furniture is manufactured to meet high-level industry standards, which guarantee quality, strength and durability; in addition, Contract is sold exclusively by contract furniture dealerships, and the business is primarily project-based, including a set of different actors and services. The project explores and studies two specific application areas in the contract furniture: 1) WORKPLACE (office, working spaces); 2) HOSPITALITY SPACES (short-stay domestic spaces). In the activities one of the areas will be selected as experimentation scope to activate a specific pilot project; The pilot’s activities aim to touch different types of companies in the contract furniture chain: i) manufacture-domain, ii) balancing manufacture and service provider, iii) mainly service provider.

Therefore, the project will design, plan and test specific sustainability transition actions in the contract furniture sector by exploiting diverse Servitization Strategies (from product-centric to service-oriented business). The transition actions will be carried out through:

  • Understanding the different typologies of servitization models for sustainability transition (from selling products to offering product-service systems): e.g. second-hand by brand; reuse & repair & refurbishment; systemic change with diverse suppliers.
  • Conducting transition paths through testing pilot activities exploring the following areas:
    • Design the services and systems as offering/solutions for contract furniture sector.
    • Building up Sustainable Business Model for delivering the offerings: product-service-system for contract furniture sector.
    • Fostering organisational change to adapt to the servitization models towards sustainable transition.
    • Engaging the whole supply chain and potential stakeholders in the transition actions.

The ACTAS project results expected aim at supporting the furniture companies (in contract business) in activating a process of transition towards a more sustainable and circular approach to business thanks to the experimentation and adoption of servitization as a design-driven strategy with the related methods, tools and activities. The project results will contribute to knowledge advancement in the research area as: design for sustainable transition, organisational transformation towards sustainability, design for business model innovation, and servitization for sustainable development. Specifically, the project aims to generate the following outputs: •a comprehensive mapping of the state of the art, of both contract furniture, furniture sector innovation in terms of sustainable transition, and servitisation models based on design-driven strategies. These results should cross the actual market picture with relevant theoretical contributions. This repository and analysis contain resources based on literature and contextual review of existing theories, approaches, methods, and tools; furthermore, it includes a collection of case studies and best practices of processes and products/systems (through i.e. on-site visits, collaborative focus groups, workshops); •The development of Design-driven Strategies for adoption and implementation of servitization and new business models in contract furniture, based on different servitization and strategic design models. This output includes both self- assessment tools on the state of art in terms of sustainable transition as for a specific development of toolset and activities for the adoption and implementation process within organizations. •A pilot testing project on a specific area to be monitored, controlled and studied in a specific time frame that can guarantee reliable results to be replicated in future actions. •a servitization (pilot action) development model, collaboratively developed with the partner companies, including a set of activities, design methods and tools to activate a process of business transformation towards a sustainable transition. The pilot action must be tested and experimented with the contract businesses to make it replicable in other application contexts. •The definition of design scenarios that can represent different opportunities areas in the contract furniture future towards the activation of a sustainable transition process.