The “rent-your-interiors” concept is already big in the US, with bespoke rental companies including Furnish & Feather, as well as established homewares brands like West Elm that have partnered with the fashion rental company Rent the Runway (but which currently has no plans to come the UK).
On this side of the pond, this year Ikea has been trialling a rental scheme in 30 countries which have already included Sweden, Switzerland and Poland, while John Lewis had a trial run at rentals over the summer with items like desks – to satisfy our work-from-home needs – bar trolleys – for the quarantinis – and extra seating. One piece on offer was its £1,899 Belgrave Mustard Sofa to rent for £80 a month for 12 months with the option to buy the piece at the end (the rental payments are deducted from the purchase price) or just hand it back.
The scheme, for which they partnered with the rental company Fat Llama (who normally offer peer-to-peer rentals of things like lawnmowers and household tools), went so well that everything is now rented out and they are looking to extend the scheme further next year. Fat Llama say they have been approached by five other high street furniture retailers who “want to move into this market super quickly,” says Joanna Palermo, head of operations at Fat Llama.
That’s the high street end of the market, but the concept is serving high-end customers, too. Along with Harth, there’s Modern Art Hire, which rents art and ceramics, and LAY London, which loans luxury table settings. “We’re learning that ‘rental’ can offer access to premium, luxury goods at a fraction of the cost, with endless variety, no strings attached and importantly, reducing consumer waste,” Alice Herbert, co-founder of LAY London, says.
She is getting bookings now for home celebrations including birthdays, Thanksgiving as well as Christmas parties. “We find that most of our clients are families, booking to surprise loved ones with an extra special dinner. More often than not, they’ve gone to town on the food front too, with deliveries from places like Zuma and Fortnum & Mason. Everyone is craving fun and hoping to keep the festive spirit alive.”