The team behind Made.com say the site will "cut out the middle man", allowing web users to buy bespoke or designer furniture directly from the manufacturers. It is the brainchild of Ning Li, an internet entrepreneur who said he could see "a lot of inefficiencies" in the furniture retail industry.
Made.com has secured £2.5 million in financial backing from a number of high-profile investors, including Brent Hoberman, founder of MyDeco and co-founder of Lastminute.com, and Michael Birch, co-founder of social-networking site Bebo.
The site showcases the designs of a variety of manufacturers from around the world, include the UK and the Far East, and asks visitors to the site to vote on their favourite items of furniture. The most popular items go in to production, and visitors who have voted on the site can then buy those items at a discounted price.
Ning said his site would halve the price of contemporary furniture by cutting out the wholesaler and retailer while maintaining quality and design, and minimise waste by ensuring that only the required amount of furniture was made.
"It is very common to see a piece of furniture being sold for six to ten times its factory price," he said. "The internet helps us provide total transparency and strip out the middlemen. Our ambition is to bring appealing design to as many people as possible, revolutionising how furniture is sold and how you buy it.”
According to Verdict, the retail analyst, online sales of homeware, furniture and floor coverings in the UK currently only accounts for 5.8 per cent of a market worth more than £26 billion.