The market for home interiors and renovation in Bangladesh is growing fast on the back of a booming real estate market, rising income levels of people, and urbanisation.
The domestic interior design market is estimated to have witnessed a four-fold growth over the past decade and currently stands at around Tk20,000 crore, according to industry insiders. The market is projected to double over the next five years.
Experts have attributed the sharp rise in demand for interior design services to people's increasing inclination towards smart homes and commercial spaces amid the influence of social media, and changes in their living standards and lifestyle.
People are choosing theme-based designs for their commercial and residential spaces, they added.
Take AR Shams Robin, an importer of drug manufacturing machinery, for example. He bought an apartment in Rangs Propertiy's luxury housing project in the capital's Banani area for around Tk12 crore in 2020.
Then, he got the interior of the apartment 3D-printed using the CADD – computer-aided design and drafting – technology at his own expense. At the same time, he placed a 360° video and a still image in the drawing room using virtual reality tech.
As soon as the door of the drawing room is opened, the video and still image also start in such a way that it seems that you have entered the drawing-room directly.
"This apartment is a 1,800 square-feet one. Apart from the drawing room, four other rooms have been designed with exotic wood floors and ceilings. The kitchen is designed with special technology. Virtual curtains have been used in the windows," Shams Robin told The Business Standard.
About Tk1.5 crore has been spent on the interior decoration of the apartment with various modern technologies, he added.
The interior design of the apartment has been done by Interior Concepts BD.
An official of the firm told TBS that apart from designing the interiors of such luxury apartments, they also do interior decorations of residential buildings, duplex houses, hotels, restaurants, corporate offices, hospitals, and educational institutions across the capital city, for which they use completely foreign technologies and imported materials.
Interior Concepts BD has been in this business for the past 15 years, he said, adding three renowned designers from China, Canada, and England work as consultants in the company. Also, some architects from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) work on design development. And there are 16 skilled workers from China and India to execute the designs.
The market for interior design and relevant materials is increasingly getting bigger, with rapid urbanisation taking place across the country, and gradually emerging as a significant contributor to the national economy, say economists. They, however, observe that developing a national policy for this sector will increase its scope further.
Humayan Kabir, who obtained his bachelor's and master's degrees from the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at Buet, took a post-master's degree from the University of Virginia, USA. He later pursued a higher degree in interior designing and earned a doctorate. Besides teaching at a university in the US, he joined an interior design firm there.
In 2009, he launched his company, Smart Interior, in Bangladesh. He is managing the firm from the US. Some architects from Buet are working with the firm that also imports various technologies and materials for interior designs.
In June last year, Smart Interior conducted a study, which found that the market for interior design in Bangladesh has reached about Tk20,000 crore.
According to the study, the interior decoration in Bangladesh got a touch of modernity in the 1990s and it has been growing steadily ever since.
Around 7 lakh people are currently employed in this sector, the study finds.
Iqbal Mahmud, senior consultant architect of Smart Interior, said the growth of the interior design market slowed down in the last couple of years because of the Covid pandemic but started to rebound at the end of 2021.
The market will touch Tk40,000 crore by 2027, projects the study.
Materials and technologies
Industry insiders said at one time the interiors of buildings were decorated using local and foreign wood.
Then various artificial wooden boards and plastic sheets were used. These are still used. But, in addition, the virtual reality technology using 3D printing papers or boards imported from different countries, CAD technology, 3D photos, virtual reality, SketchUp, V-Ray, and 3D Max software have been interior designing to a new level.
Asif Ibrahim, an official of Trimattra, a leading interior design company in the country, said theme-based designs are becoming very popular among the new generation of buyers like elsewhere in the world.
Countless themes, such as the Mediterranean Style, the European Style, and the Ethnic Indian Style of Design and Decor are getting common nowadays, he added.
Also, versatile laminated flooring, hardwood flooring, carpet flooring, and ceramic flooring to decorate the floor is now quite a common demand, said Asif.
Window curtain designing is also quite popular. Box plates, pinch plates, tail plates, islets, and rod pockets are made for this.
Another popular aspect is the glass wall – sound-resistant and coloured glass walls inside rooms.
According to the study of Smart Interior, all the technology used for interior design is imported from abroad. Some 30% of materials, such as natural wood, artificial wood, sheets and tiles, for interior decoration are sourced locally, while the rest are procured from about 20 countries, including China, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Mahfuzur Rahman, an engineer who owns Max International, an interior materials supplier in the capital's Hatirpul, said the market size of materials accounts for Tk15,000 crore out of the total investments of Tk20,000 crore made by interior designers and material suppliers.
Industry insiders say around 10,000 companies all over the country, including Dhaka, are engaged in interior decoration. Besides, many do this individually.
Alamgir Shamsul Alamin Kajal, president of the Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh, told TBS that now almost 90% of apartments that are being constructed by realtors in the capital have their interiors decorated.
Economist Dr Ahsan H Munsurr said the interior decoration market is thriving on a change in people's tastes and preferences with time. It has also created a lot of employment opportunities.
Most of them who are involved in interior designing are educated. Many private universities and institutions now offer courses and training on interior designs, he also said.
"But our economy cannot reap a full benefit from this growing market as most materials used in this sector are imported," the economist said, suggesting that the government take initiatives to develop an industry for supplying all the materials required for interior decoration.