2017’s International Furniture Fair Singapore (IFFS) proved itself yet again as Asia’s premier sourcing platform and design-led exhibition. The 4-day event held from March 9 – 12 concluded with resounding success, attracting approximately 22,000 trade professionals from the furniture, interior design and furnishing industries, including an impressive 87 buying delegations from 92 countries. More than 30 years on, IFFS is regarded by industry experts as the key strategic trade gateway to Asia and beyond.
Words: Kalli Zerveas
This year’s IFFS was held in partnership with the ASEAN Furniture Show and NOOK Asia at the Singapore EXPO. The 2017 edition featured a diverse international portfolio of 428 exhibiting companies from 35 countries, showcasing creative and design-rich pieces attracting industry buyers. The show reveals a particular emphasis on its importance amongst industry professionals with quality content condensed into four power-packed halls. Chairman of IFFS Mr. Koh said, “we’ve invigorated the show with more feature areas, design-centric displays, and knowledge sharing seminars”. IFFS delivered a content-driven show that focuses on quality and overall experience, offering “a more conducive and seamless environment for visitors”. The fair credits its longevity to its ability to adapt and transform with the times, Mr. Koh shared, “from a business point of view, IFFS has to redefine itself in order to remain relevant and sustainable, and to continue serving in the international furniture ecosystem as a premier sourcing platform”. IFFS continues to evolve and redefine itself decades on, focusing on new partnerships and different initiatives, reinforcing itself as a truly beneficial experience for the international furniture industry.
Speaking at the opening ceremony was Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr. Iswaran. The guest-of-honour recognised IFFS’s efforts in promoting global furniture trade sharing, “IFFS is an excellent showcase of Singapore’s dynamic furniture industry, [the show] 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”. Exhibitors relished the opportunity to break into new emerging markets, an experience IFFS acknowledges that is not often available at international trade shows.
Most noteworthy was the overwhelmingly positive feedback from visitors and exhibitors. Returning Vietnamese exhibitor, Square Roots Ltd’s General Director, Justin Wheatcroft, said, “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. 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”. The appeal of the show from visiting buyers seemed to majorly focus on establishing long-term partnerships with reliable suppliers. President and Founder of Grupo HeWi (Mexico), Mr. Wichers said, “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 at IFFS”.
IFFS extends beyond furniture sourcing, lifestyle furnishings and design-centric decorative pieces is offered from NOOK Asia, the co-located show that focuses on artisanal crafts from around the world. Delphine Leon, Founder and Design Director of D’Apres Nous D&B Pte Ltd, commented, “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”. Noteworthy attractions included the EU Business Avenues in South East Asia Pavilion, 12 Country Pavilions, Virtual Reality Zone, Upholstery Pavilion, The Outdoor Boulevard, as well as a series of 12 complimentary Design and Business Seminars.
The event particularly highlights the importance of emerging talent in the furniture and design industry. The Furniture Design Award (FDA) consists of 11 finalists by the reputable platform to uncover budding design talents. Organised by the Singapore Furniture Industries Council, the 2017 winning design is the Yokan Chair – a miniature chair inspired by a traditional Japanese dessert – by Hiroki Sakamoto. He shared, “I was very surprised to have won the grand prize as the other entries were all very impressive. 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 at IFFS”. The fair plans to continue its focus on curating a show that celebrates design, emphasises on experiences, and facilitates connections.
IFFS 2017 is a platform for the international furniture field to come together in an event which celebrates independent ideas and raw talent. Mr. Koh concluded that “ultimately, we want IFFS to not just be an internationally-renowned sourcing platform, but one that ignites conversations, and forges connections 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”. IFFS 2018 will be the first furniture trade exhibition to introduce the augmented reality (AR) zone. This means through simulated technology exhibitors will be able to expand their product range and create an interactive and immersive experience. IFFS remains as the most distinctive channel for regional and international companies to penetrate the global market since 1981, and the 2018 show is set to impress even higher standards.