Registration at the International Furniture Fair Singapore (IFFS) 2017. Photo credit: IFFS 2017
The International Furniture Fair Singapore (IFFS) 2017 rounded up its successful 34th edition with the 34th ASEAN Furniture show and very first NOOK Asia. The highly-anticipated international tradeshow drew 87 buying delegations representing 92 countries and 21,966 trade professionals from the furnishing, furniture, and interior design industries.
More than 30 years after its initiation, IFFS continues to change with the times and strengthen its position as an excellent business platform for the international furniture industry. IFFS 2017 presented a varied international portfolio consisting of 428 exhibiting companies hailing from 35 countries. Altogether, the participants set up a splendid display featuring their creative and design-rich pieces that received widespread recognition and praise from the industry buyers, the proof of the visitors’ satisfaction over the quality of the content shown and highlighting the exhibition’s ever-increasing value in the eyes of industry professionals.
Ongoing business negotiations at the IFFS 2017. Photo credit: IFFS 2017
“From a business point of view, IFFS has to redefine itself in order to remain relevant and sustainable, and to continue serving the international furniture ecosystem as a premier sourcing platform,” Chairman of IFFS Pte Ltd, Mr Ernie Koh, said. “The quality content was condensed into four power-packed halls this year, and we invigorated the show with more feature areas, design-centric displays, and knowledge-sharing seminars. Through these initiatives, we successfully delivered a content-driven show that focuses on the quality of brands and overall experience, one that offers a more conducive and seamless environment for visitors.”
On top of gaining the acknowledgment of the international furniture industry, IFFS’ efforts at advancing global furniture trade also won the Singapore government’s recognition. “IFFS is an excellent showcase of Singapore’s dynamic furniture industry, which has grown steadily over the years…Singapore remains committed to staying open to trade, investments, talent, and ideas from around the world,” Mr S. Iswaran, the guest-of-honour and Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry), said when giving his keynote speech at the IFFS 2017 opening ceremony. “IFFS epitomises this commitment to openness and connectivity [by] bringing some of the most promising furniture design talent and companies from around the world to Singapore.”
IFFS’ recent change in direction reverberated across the four halls, and many industry professionals voiced their satisfaction over the networks and quality of business conversations formed during the four-day bonanza, and the benefits the interplay created for their businesses. Most notably, the participants relished and welcomed the opportunities given to break into new markets, something not always available even at international tradeshows.
An exhibition at the IFFS 2017. Photo credit: IFFS 2017
“In the last few days, we met with our existing clients and made valuable, new connections here at IFFS. I’m very happy with what we’ve received – in particular, contacts for new retailers in markets we were not as strong in previously,” Justin Wheatcroft, Square Root Ltd’s General Director and a returning visitor from Vietnam, said. “I’ve always liked IFFS for the quality visitors and strong brands it attracts, and I think the organisers should definitely continue to focus on that area of strength. People worry about the size of a fair, but I believe a compact show with solid content is far better than a large one with little direction.”
“We wanted to expand our presence in the APAC (Asia Pacific) region and felt that IFFS was a good choice due to its central location, “Yasemin Gunduz, the Export Manager at Cilek A.S., from Turkey, who exhibited for the first time, said reiterating Wheatcroft’s views. “We’re very pleased with the visitor turnout and superb responses to our collections. So far, we’ve met good contacts from Australia, Malaysia, and Thailand, and we look forward to selling to these markets through retailers and online platforms. We are seriously considering returning to the show again next year!”
Visiting buyers were also undoubtedly positive in their comments when asked about what they took away from IFFS. “My main objective is to search for and establish long-term partnerships with reliable suppliers that offer good services and value, and are able to understand my business needs,” President and Founder of Grupo HeWi (Mexico), Ing Hendricus, said about his first time attending the event. “So far, I’ve met around three to four promising companies that I’m keen to work with. This has far exceeded my expectations and I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen and experienced in IFFS.”
In addition to IFFS, there was also NOOK Asia, the inaugural co-located ‘one-stop solution’ show for visitors and buyers seeking to supplement their furniture-sourcing requirements with design-centric decorative pieces and lifestyle furnishings. Other notable attractions were the EU Business Avenues in South East Asia Pavilion, Virtual Reality Zone and The Outdoor Boulevard, among others.
The EU Business Avenues in South East Asia Pavilion. Photo credit: IFFS 2017
“I have visited IFFS a few times in the past and I’m here again because we find value in trade shows that continually keep things fresh, by offering content that reflects new trends and by introducing promising new players to the mix,” Delphine Leon, Founder and Design Director of D’Apres Nous D&B Pte Ltd, remarked.
Business aside, another design showcase that gathered much fanfare was the Furniture Design Award (FDA) Showcase organised by the Singapore Furniture Industries Council. Of the entries the 11 finalists submitted, the Yokan Chair by Hiroki Sakamoto – a little chair that drew its design inspiration from a traditional Japanese dessert – was the winner.
Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry), Mr S. Iswaran, is captivated by the Yokan Chair as FDA winner Hiroki Sakamoto explains its design inspiration to him. Photo credit: IFFS 2017
“I was very surprised to have won the grand prize as the other entries were all very impressive,” Sakamoto enthused. “To be recognised by an international jury consisting of top-calibre design professionals really meant a lot to me. FDA has been an amazing experience and I have received a lot of interest in my work in IFFS.”
The Organiser plans to continue in this new direction in the future, and focus attention on nurturing a tradeshow that honours design, facilitates connections, and highlights experience. “Ultimately, we want IFFS to not just be an internationally-renowned sourcing platform, but one that ignites conversations, and forgoes connection between exhibitors and buyers as well. Through nurturing a vibrant network of relationships, we hope that the impact and influence of IFFS can be felt throughout the year, and not just during show days,” Koh concluded.
From left to right: Mr Ernie Koh, Chairman of IFFS and Mr S. Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) with FDA winner Hiroki Sakamoto and Organisers of the IFFS 2017. Photo credit: IFFS 2017