28 April 2017
Bespoke Bedrooms and Designer Dining Rooms Prove Latest Home Comforts
- Photo: Bespoke and comprehensive: One-stop one-off interior décor.
- Photo: SHC’s fine furnishings on show.
- Photo: Ship-shop: Maritime motifs.
- Photo: Bespoke boudoirs and…
- Photo: …nocturnal knick-knacks.
- Photo: A VR home furnishing preview.
- Photo: Automated production from SHC.
- Photo: Pyua Biotechnology’s desk and chair.
- Photo: Oupin’s multi-function table.
Many mainlanders are now looking to maximise the use of their residential space through customised makeovers that transform whole homes in a one-off fashion, according to exhibitors at this year's China International Furniture Fair.
More than 4,000 exhibitors took part in the 2017 China International Furniture Fair (Guangzhou). Covering a total exhibition area of 750,000 square metres, the event featured bespoke areas dedicated to home furniture, home decoration, home textiles and outdoor living. Some 200 products were launched during the course of the show, including several new innovations in the fields of smart homes, convertible furniture, whole house customisation and neo-Chinese home designs.
According to many attendees, home furnishing is going to be big business this year. In particular, bespoke items and styles are said to be widely in demand, a consequence of the growing trend for individual expression among many mainland consumers.
Bespoke Residences and Designer Dwellings
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the total value of China's furniture manufacturing industry was RMB855.95 billion (US$124 billion) in 2016, an 8.6% year-on-year increase. While the traditional ready-made sector continues to thrive, companies offering comprehensive and bespoke home-furnishing solutions have enjoyed the most robust growth.
One exhibitor specialising in this particular sector was Guangzhou Shangpin Home Collection (SHC). This year, the company opted to showcase a number of room installations, including full-scale mock-ups of its latest bedroom, living room and study styles and options.
According to Zhang Jianwei, the company's press spokesperson, it is frequently difficult for mainland residents to find ready-made furniture that matches the particular requirements of their home spaces. At the same time, he said, many of those living in the tier-one cities now had high expectations of the design, functionality and storage capacity of their chosen home furniture. On top of this, rising real-estate prices are leading many buyers to settle for small residential units, which they then opt to refurbish throughout with bespoke items.
As a result, a popular option for many homeowners is a one-stop bespoke home furnishing supplier, typically a company that can offer a comprehensive, room-by-room, custom-made fixtures and fittings service. In the case of SHC, prospective customers are invited to visit its showroom, where they can discuss their particular needs with one of the company's designers. This is followed by a site visit, which allows SHC's operatives to assess the overall space available and gain an understanding of the client's particular requirements.
Working with the products and styles the client has selected, the designer will then prepare a 3D home design proposal, while also providing an initial cost estimate. Typically, this stage is completed within 3-4 days. Once the budget and the design has been approved, the company begins the process of manufacturing the individual components before on-site installation commences.
Another exhibitor specialising in this sector is Shanghai Dandou Arts and Crafts. According to Wang Xiao, the company's Representative in Guangzhou, Dandou can customise home furniture items to meet the specific requirements of clients, allowing them to fully utilise any available space in their homes, a facility often lacking when it comes to ready-made furniture.
Understandably, this style of home furnishing is particularly popular among those living in smaller homes, many of whom feel the need to maximise use of the limited space. With such consumers in mind, a number of companies had novel space-saving options on show this year. One exhibitor, for instance, showed a bed that could be folded away into a closet space at the touch of a button, with its base converting into a bookcase. The lower part of the bed also comes with a bench option, allowing it to be used as a sofa during the day.
Rising Costs and Technical Innovation
Despite growing demand, many in the industry have had to contend with rising costs, with the price of raw materials and wages having risen by 5-8% and 5-9%, respectively, recently. In order to mitigate the impact of these increased costs, many exhibitors were quick to highlight the added-value services they now offer, including an improved after-sales service and enhanced technical capabilities.
According to Wang, adaptability is the key to weathering these rising costs. His own business, Dandou, has looked to improve efficiency and offer a wider range of products and services as a way of offsetting its increased overheads. It has also simplified the procedure for providing quotes and designs, with its creative teams now making initial proposals based solely on a floor-plan and a few photographs of clients' homes.
In the case of SHC, it has set up a lifestyle research centre to profile the preferences and requirements of its target consumers, allowing the company to improve its existing products and to develop new ones in line with changing requirements.
The company has also looked to increasingly automate its production process for custom furniture. While previously it took at least 30 days to manufacture and install a whole set of home furnishing items, thanks to this new technology the same work can now be completed in about 20 days.
According to Zhang, this new technology results in lower production costs, with the savings then passed on to the consumer in terms of an improved overall experience. The company has also adopted an O2O model, allowing customers to check out its product inventory online or visit one of the company's 1,000 outlets to see the range on offer firsthand.
High Quality Bespoke Design
Among the companies specialising in particular furnishing sectors is Guangzhou Pyua Biotechnology, which had on offer a range of children's desks and chairs for home use. Its 9-AU range of desks measure 110cm in length and 76.5-79.5cm in width, while their heights are adjustable in the 50-75.5cm range. The desktops themselves are available in a range of colours and come coated in anti-scratch and anti-slip materials.
One of Dandou's specialties, meanwhile, is its range of neo-American solid wood home furniture. According to Wang, it has proved increasingly popular with mainland purchasers, largely on account of its high perceived quality.
On offer from Guangzhou City Oupin Furniture was a convertible, multi-function table, which can serve as coffee table, a tea trolley, a computer desk or a dining table. Is height is fully adjustable, and its porcelain tabletop is said to be scratch-proof and heat-resistant.
In the case of Beijing Family Furniture, it was in Guangzhou to show its 47-stong range of multi-coloured furniture boards. All of its products are said to come with a noise-reduction system, which damps down the sounds normally produced by hinges, pulleys and slide rails.
Rounding things off, Hubei Jinkaidi Furniture was keen to promote its range of teen-oriented solid wooden furniture. Coated with environmentally friendly water-based paints, these oak products are available in a selection of colours and a number of combinations.
The 2017 China International Furniture Fair (Guangzhou) took place at the China Import and Export Fair Complex and the Poly World Trade Centre Expo from 18-21 March (Phase One) and 28-31 March (Phase Two).
Xing Bin, Special Correspondent, Guangzhou