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INTERNATIONAL FURNITURE FAIR SINGAPORE 2015
Singapore Expo, Singapore
13-16 March 2015

Design-Driven Show Identified as Gateway to Asia

The International Furniture Fair Singapore 2015 / 32nd ASEAN Furniture Show (IFFS/AFS 2015), The Décor Show, and Hospitality 360° came to a close after four full days of business meetings, networking, seminars, and inspiring design-related activities, propelling the industry towards an expectant year ahead.

A total of 487 exhibitors from a record number of 39 countries participated in the trilogy of events this year, occupying 60,000 square meters of beautifully-decorated halls at the Singapore EXPO. In terms of footfall, IFFS welcomed 18,836 visitors from 102 countries to the fair, including 92 buying delegations and 380 VIP Hosted Buyers of The Prestige Club.

Ernie Koh, Chairman of IFFS Pte Ltd & President of Singapore Furniture Industries Council, expressed, “IFFS is well poised to assist international manufacturers enter the Asian market, as well as to allow local or regional firms to break into the global scene. Companies are attracted to the unique blend of East meets West that is adaptable to either side of the spectrum, the ease with which business can be conducted here, and the well-established infrastructure that the island nation offers.”

Exhibitors from various segments of the show independently concurred that they chose Singapore because of its geographical location and cultural positioning. First-time Belgian exhibitor, Khadidja Thys, Export Manager, Umbrosa NV, said, “IFFS is a powerful platform for us to meet new customers, reach out to our existing clientele, and also to further increase brand awareness in the region. We received a high volume of leads, which comprises a wide variety of industry people – hotel owners, operators, designers, retailers, and developers. We strongly believe that our participation will translate into direct sales opportunities.”

Peter Bastiaensen, Export Manager at Linea Verdace (Belgium), voiced similar sentiments, saying, “Our experience on this mission trip by EU Business Avenues has been a positive one. The business matching service allowed us to meet with the right people. While we export to over 20 countries in the world, this is our first trip to Asia. It’s given us good business leads and we’ll seriously consider returning as an independent exhibitor.”

Asian STAR Showcase participant, Dr. Pich Tripasai, Founder of Tripasai Architect (Thailand), explained, “The showcase gives me the opportunity to present a complete concept, as opposed to singular pieces of furniture, to my clients and visitors. Being here also allows me to gather feedback from potential clients, as well as meet and interact with designers from other parts of the world.” Visitors identified IFFS as the region’s most cosmopolitan fair for their sourcing needs, given the comprehensive portfolio of exhibitors that hail from around the world. Swedish attendee Jan Karlsson, Product Manager of Mio AB, said, “IFFS is the most international of all the industry’s regional fairs. The quality of the stands is excellent, and I come mainly to gather ideas and inspiration for my company’s retail outlets in Europe.”

Another buyer, Pippa Cowling, Director of D.I.Designs (United Kingdom), revealed, “My business stocks furniture for restaurants, hotels, etc. and I’m sourcing for local and regional factories to supply my needs. I’ve had very good meetings so far, and am impressed with how big the show is.”

Separately, first-time visitor, Vikas Jain, Partner at J.C. Antiques & Crafts (India), was also pleased with what he saw on this exploratory trip. He shared, “We were looking to participate in a show outside of India, and we felt that IFFS is the right platform for us to penetrate into the Southeast Asian market. I’m very happy with what I see and we will likely exhibit in the next edition.”

Design Takes Centre-Stage
At IFFS 2015, it was evident that ‘design’ played a pivotal role in the furniture business. The fair expanded its pool of design-centric exhibitors that consistently feature wellpresented collections. These booths are not only eyecatching, but are also popular with discerning buyers from all over the world. Vietnam-based visitor, John Moloney, Director at Instore, commented, “We’re on the market for high-end indoor furniture. I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve attended IFFS. But what keeps me coming back is the fact that here, I can find the design pieces that I need for my stores.”

Besides appreciating designs that have already been commercialised, students participating in IFFS also learned about the importance of good design in a piece. Dr. Zorica Djoković, Headmistress at Drvoart Technical School (Serbia), shared, “We came to Singapore with the objective to showcase our work. However, we’ve been pleasantly surprised with requests from manufacturers to actually produce our students’ designs! The exposure and welcome we’ve received is incredible.”

The Organisers’ introduction of the Design Hall this year that featured ambient venue lighting was met with warm reception, as it allowed exhibitors more possibilities for product presentation. The customised lighting at each booth helped draw visitors’ attention to the furniture and decorative pieces, and delivered an added touch of elegance.

Also receiving positive feedback on the show floor was the set of Design Empowers Business Seminars that was held from 13 – 15 March in the Design Hall. Jaylou Marie Hernandez, Associate Director at PTI Architects (Indonesia), who attended the plenary on intellectual property (IP) and designs, mentioned, “In the Asian region, we are generally not very aware about the idea of IP just yet. It was an insightful session and I learned a lot about how I can protect my work.”