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Thomas Russell

Emphasis on design in Singapore

Diamond SofaDiamond Sofa showed this violet leather sofa, which would retail for around $1,999 in the U.S. market.
SINGAPORE - Design driven producers seeking to boost sales to the U.S. and other recovering global markets offered aggressive new product launches at the International Furniture Fair Singapore last month in both case goods and upholstery.
     The March 9-12 show featured 512 exhibitors from 26 countries showing in nearly 700,000 square feet at the Singapore Expo. This included some 120 Singapore-based producers in furniture and related categories such as home accents and lighting.
     Organizers reported last week that the show attracted 23,552 trade visitors, up nearly 13% from the 20,873 that were at the show in 2011. It was not clear how many of the buyers were from North America.
     Officials said spot orders written at the show totaled about $303 million, up from $289 million last year, and that follow-up orders after the show are expected to reach $3.6 billion.
     This sales activity took place across a broad range of categories including case goods, upholstery, occasional furniture and even outdoor and casual.
     On the upholstery side, exhibitors showed fashion forward, largely contemporary frames, some sporting trendy bright orange and violet leathers.
     Among the upholstery exhibitors was Thailand-based Diamond Sofa, which had a number of new and colorful contemporary and transitional leather groups.
     The company likes the international nature of the show, said Pat Charoenyos, general manager. In addition to customers from Europe, Asia and Australia, the company was looking to see buyers from the United States, largely in hopes of regaining some sales lost to that market during the recession.
     Before the recession, about 50% of Diamond's export sales were to the U.S., he said. Now it's under 10%.
     "There is competition from lower priced lines," Charoenyos said, noting that a top grain leather sofa can range from $750 to $1,200 FOB, which would put it close to $2,000 to $3,000 retail.
     Cellini Design, which has been exhibiting at IFFS for 10 years, showed four new contemporary leather upholstery groups along with existing leather collections.
     "The show is nice - it's away from China, so there are not as many people coming in to copy you," said Jakob Djien Schou, head of exports. "The flow of people is better in China, but it is a little more design-oriented here."
     Lifestyle Enterpris
The PhillipsThe Phillips Collection, a first-time exhibitor from the U.S., showcased a number of modern accent pieces.
e showed a line of leather seating that included sofas and loveseats. Officials were initially concerned with low traffic on the first day, but said that traffic picked up on day two. The company said it was pleased with the overall response, which included some orders on both new pieces and bestsellers in its existing lineup.
     Attendance was particularly strong from the Australian market, said Danny Scaunich, managing director of Lifestyle Australia and New Zealand. Normally, he said, he and an assistant manage the Australian accounts at the show. This time, it brought in seven reps covering that market.
     "Because of the strength of the market, we had to bring in more," he said.
     On the wood side, IFFS offered a mix of styles ranging from European traditional, particularly with French influences, to cottage-inspired.
     But more often than not, the wood arena featured tables and case goods with wire-brushed tops and heavily distressed rustic finishes, giving the pieces a reclaimed look.
     As many of the companies were sourcing from places like Vietnam and Indonesia, much of the wood was, in fact, reclaimed. Many pieces with tubular metal frames and metal bases had industrial looks popular in stores such as Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn.
     Among the case goods resources was Koda, a longtime IFFS exhibitor that introduced three new whole home collections and several other groupings that included bedroom or dining room and/or occasional furniture. Roughly 60% of its showroom had new product, said Ernie Koh, executive director of marketing.
     In terms of scale, some of Koda's mix was tailored to the European market, but there was also plenty for U.S. buyers. Some tables and case pieces had weathered, wire brushed finishes, while others had darker finishes showing the wood grain.
     Occasional groups ranged from small tables with triangular tops to consoles with painted motifs in inspired by modern art.
     Kenas Home showed a line of dining and occasional tables, many of which also had tops with wire-brushed and natural weathered looks.
     Taiwan-based occasional table specialist Hampton Castle offered a broad mix of cocktail and end tables, ranging from wire-brushed and hand-planed rustic looks to two-tone varieties with black bases and lighter tops with waxy hangups.
     Case goods manufacturer d-Bodhi showed a line of occasional tables, dining tables, bookshelves and consoles, many of which were made with reclaimed woods taken from pallets and even old boats. The boat wood was seen in a collection called Carbon, which included consoles, armoires and display racks featuring some of the original colors from the boats.
     The show also featured new exhibitors, including accent specialist The Phillips Collection, case goods manufacturer Moro Design, and case goods and upholstery importer Sunpan Modern Home. All reported good experiences as first time exhibitors and said they saw customers from Asia, Europe, Australia and North America.
     "This show was good for the European and Australian markets," said Carl Lovett, sales manager at Sunpan. "We have had new customers in that are actually writing orders."
     Jacques Wayser, president of high-end case goods and upholstery manufacturer French Heritage, said it was his third time visiting the show. He said he likes its compact size and variety of exhibitors.
     "You see people you don't see elsewhere," he said. "It is easy to cover and is fresh for Asia. You can find smaller artisans you don't know.... Overall it's a well managed show."

Singapore-based d-Bodhi, which manufactures in Indonesia, showed four new collections with more than 40 pieces each. This one, Pinot, includes bookshelves, consoles and other small chests made with wood taken from pallets and decorated with the names of various spirits.
Singapore-based
Koda showed

Koda showed its new Weiland case goods line, a Scandinavianinspired group made with American walnut solids and veneers. A five-piece bedroom would retail for about $3,499.
Almi Furniture is an Indonesian producer that showed a number of accent pieces with hand-painted designs.
Almi Furniture
Indian rug producer
Indian rug producer Sharda showed some ottomans and accent cubes that bear some of the same patterns as are on its line of hand-tufted and hand-woven rugs.
Lawas showcased a number of pieces made from reclaimed wood, such as this lounge chair and side tables. The furniture is made in Indonesia.
Lawas showcased
This cabinetThis cabinet desk is by Vendome Design, a French company with Vietnam manufacturing. It has a file cabinet and flipdown drawer and would retail at about $900 to $1,000 in the United States.
Country Corner showcased a number of cottage and Victorian-inspired master bedroom, youth bedroom and occasional pieces shown in white finishes.
Country Corner
Moro Design’sMoro Design’s Akacia dining room is made with solid acacia and features rough-sawn tops and panels.
This sectional was among the upholstery pieces seen at Lifestyle Enterprise. The three-piece unit retails for about $899.
This sectional
Toronto-based
Toronto-based Sunpan Modern Home was a first time exhibitor at IFFS. It showed a number of inline occasional chairs, tables and accent pieces.


These contemporary upholstery frames are by Isella Sofa Design. The line includes some brightly colored pieces inspired by trends in women’s apparel and accessories.
These contemporary

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