Asia 2017, The Triumph of Design

by ICON-Italian Consulting Pte Ltd

Designer-Entrepreneur Kelvin Ng of Kelvin Giormani

PDP - second edition, Filippo Mambretti and his cupboard for Nokta.

PDP - second edition, Giorgio Biscaro and his table for Hupchong F urniture.

There is something up and going in Asia this year, and it is the attention to design.

Every Fair of the Asian Circuit in March, from the most conservative to the most mature, has clearly showed that the impact of design is the next big thing in the area, and every one of them is clearly investing in what seems to be the new trend of the Asian furniture business – essential to target the budding Asian Middle Class.

As for the OECD data, in 2030 the 66% of the global Middle Class, and the 59% of its expenditures, will happen in Asia. This is the main reason why it will be important to focus on activities such as design and branding to give more value to the local products.

EFE 2017 - The pathfinder
EFE - Export Furniture Exhibition is the exportdriven furniture trade fair held from the 8th to the 11th in KLCC. It has hosted over 300 exhibitors (+16% from the previous year) and over 10.000 visitors (+11%).

Between the activities of the Fair, the Hall 7 has hosted the exhibit dedicated to the Second Edition of the PDP - Professional Designers Programme - a project that has involved 4 international designers and 11 local designers, who, working for 4 Malaysian companies, have presented 20 new original product designs.

The PDP was launched in 2015 to support the furniture companies to introduce the design as a revolutionary force in the manufacturing process. Organized by the Malaysian Furniture Promotion Council, and supported by the Malaysian Timber Industry Board, the PDP is sponsored by the MPIC, Minister of Plantation, Industries and Commodities, which is actively helping the furniture industry through this transformation phase.

The Malaysian companies are indeed passing through a very delicate phase in a context of deep changes in the area, which will represent the main market where to focus the marketing efforts in the next future.

But it seems that this was the right direction to take; as of today, Malaysia is the one country which has a dedicated Government program to actively promote and support state-of-the-art furniture design.

MIFF 2017, inspired by design

MIFF 2017 - the turning point
The 23rd edition of MIFF - Malaysian International Furniture Fair - was also held from March 8 to 11 in Kuala Lumpur, in the PWTC + MECC venues, and has attracted 500 exhibitors and about 20,000 visitors, confirming itself as one of the most important trade fairs of the Asian Circuit. MIFF is one of the largest and most comprehensive exhibits of all Southeast Asia, hosting the most diverse product sectors, and it will definitely get bigger next year.

In 2018, with the inauguration of the new Malaysia International Trade & Exhibition Center (MITEC), in addition to the present PWTC, the exhibition area will expand to 100,000 square meters: this will allow MIFF to host over 600 exhibitors.

As MIFF President Datuk Dr Tan Chin Huat pointed out, MIFF is evolving to meet the demands of operators and to keep pace with the market. Companies are also evolving, and investing more in research and development to adapt products to new, demanding customers.

This is why the title of the next edition of MIFF will be: “Design Connects People”, to underline the will of MIFF to create ever more business opportunities thanks to design and creativity.

To this end, a new specific initiative will be launched: designRena.

DesignRena will be a dedicated platform for selected companies that could expose their most design-oriented products, creating a connection between the designers of the Furniture Design Competition and the companies most interested in this area.

IFFS 2017 - a fair in transformation
Held from 9th to 12th March, the 34th Edition of the IFFS - International Furniture Show Singapore - ended with 428 Exhibitors and 21,996 visitors. An edition that creates some doubts, but at the same time, opens up new, different perspectives.

Mark Yong, Chairman of SFIC - Singapore Industries Furniture Council, appointed in November 2016, said: “Our industry requires an innovative approach and new direction of intervention. This transformation will be based on digital technology, which will enable innovation in production, improving capacity and productivity, to adapt to the new needs.”

The fair has always been attentive to design, and since some years, it has embarked on a decisive turnaround of exhibitors, favoring companies that devote themselves to product research and innovation.

Among these, we find Singaporean companies like Sam & Sara, Grafunkt, Minzu by Nathan Yong, Journey East - with the PlayPlay collection by Lanzavecchia + Wai, dBodhi, Koda, with the Commune brand, Star Furniture, with the Jotter Goods brand.

The Italian Hospitality Lounge - a true new entry in the design area - deserves a more detailed description. Curated by Giulio Cappellini, an artistic director of great experience, the Italian Hospitality Lounge has offered a selection of renowned brands alongside some less known, but highly-interesting manufacturers. In a very essential setting, the Italian companies have exhibited iconic products of a perfect workmanship, typically “Made in Italy”.

It remains to be seen whether the fair will decide to aim further - one of the possibilities is to move to a much more prestigious venue - and how much it will invest in its ability to attract a higher level of operators. But given its goals, we are quite confident it will.

IFFS 2017, Play Paly collection by Lanzavecchia + Wai by Journey East.

CIFF March 2017, Ooland booth by Francesco Favaretto.
CIFF March 2017, Landbond booth.

CIFF March 2017, Ooland booth by Francesco Favaretto.
CIFF 2017 - the giant awakens

CIFF 2017, held in its historic Guangzhou venue, has proven to be a success. A record number of 3,992 exhibitors took part of its 39th edition, attracting a total of 191,950 professional visitors worldwide (+13.7% over 2016). Those numbers make it one of the biggest furniture fairs of the world, but until now, not one which was known for its attention to design.

MIFF 2017, the booth of the company SJY.
IFFS 2017, the Italian Hospitality Lounge by Giulio Cappellini

Prepare for a change. The Chinese Giant has awaken, and it is beginning to flex its muscles.

Mr. Li, Chairman of the fair, has pointed out that in response to the needs of the furniture industry for improving quality and reach, CIFF will spare no effort to create the theme of “Better Life, Better Work” and increase value for exhibitors and audiences.

And he was not bragging. The fair have worked hard in the main area where China is very strong: the creation of infrastructures and systems to help the companies compete internationally, both traditional and innovative, online-based, as well as specific initiatives in the development of the design field.

A flurry of activities centered around design inception has punctuated the fair: between these, we can cite the array of design talks by worldwide experts; the several design exhibits, between which we can cite the Chinese Original Design Exhibition 2017, co-curated by ADC and Kong Wu, a winner of Red Dot Design Award; a thorough exploration of the latest trends, in the Interiors & Decoration Trend Show 2017; and the Pinnacle Awards Asia Pacific, launched in cooperation with the American Society of Furniture Designers.

But what is more, the effects of this injection of design are already there in the show. More and more Chinese manufacturers are investing into design, creating objects ranging from the sophisticated offerings of Aris, art directed by one of the pioneers of the design thinking in Asia, Marco Giorgetti, to the evolutionary traditional Chinese design of, to the reinterpreted Scandinavian aesthetics of Hong Kong’s Elmood, apart from the “usual suspects” of design like, Kinetik, Ooland and Moreless.

The request for design is strong, and we definitely can see more international designers coming joining the ranks of Karim Rashid, Luca Nichetto, Tobia Repossi and Francesco Favaretto, who have setup a studio in China.