Change and collaboration will mark the next phase of growth for Singapore's furniture industry

IFFS 2018,furniture,square roots

IFFS 2018

Change is creeping up on Asia’s furniture industry—if it hasn’t already—and change, the industry must, if it is to survive in the new economy.

E-commerce, evolving consumer preferences and the emergence of new technologies are such examples of disruption, yet they present unparalleled opportunities for companies to access new markets and scale their business more quickly.

“The industry has also seen a shift in consumer demographics, as millennials come of age… They have specific tastes and needs, and are looking for unique pieces to differentiate their homes and express themselves,” said Mr S Iswaran, Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry), at the opening of the International Furniture Fair Singapore (IFFS), Thursday.

“Companies can no longer rely on the same design, and will have to create distinctive designs and features,” he added.

An Indonesian furniture manufacturer offering furniture made of certified legal wood 

The industry, he said, can differentiate themselves through harnessing innovation and design in furniture and furniture merchandising, such as augmented reality and virtual reality to help customers visualise their dream homes.

Collaboration with designers, tapping on new market segments and adapting business models to grow are also some of the ways the industry here can have a competitive edge.

This year’s IFFS hosts 374 exhibitors from 26 countries and 15 national pavilions with France, Japan, Portugal and Turkey debuting for the first time. 20,000 visitors are expected over the four-day show which opens today and runs till Sunday, March 11.

As the industry progresses into the next phase of growth, the IFFS will also be shifting to Marina Bay Sands next year to position Singapore as the Asia hub for urban living solutions, said Ernie Koh, Chairman of the IFFS.

“There is a lot to be done for the industry’s transformation. We want to partner up with like-minded people… Rather than just a one-off trade show, we see this as a continuous activity to keep the network alive,” Mr Koh said.

Square Roots, a British-owned company based in Long An province, Vietnam, offers solid French oak furniture.

With Asia being the strongest growth region in the world for furniture consumption, Mr Iswaran added that his ministry is committed to developing a strong furniture eco-system together with local industry partners.

The global furniture market is expected to expand from S$624 billion in 2016 to S$770 billion in 2021.

The MBS venue will be a catalyst to “deliver top-notch, design-focused content, invoke innovative ideas and facilitate excellent business opportunities,” Mr Koh remarked.