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Smarter, Personalised Homes Set Tone for Guangzhou Interior Shows

This year's International Building Decoration Fair and Guangzhou Shading and Window-Door Expo saw an increased emphasis on high quality personalisation, as well as a renewed emphasis on the use of environmentally-friendly materials.

Photo: The Custom-made Furniture Display Zone.
The Custom-made Furniture Display Zone.
Photo: The Custom-made Furniture Display Zone.
The Custom-made Furniture Display Zone.

Custom-built furniture and fixtures, as well as smart, integrated systems were among the trends most in evidence at two recent Guangzhou expos. European and American design influences also proved popular, as did imported raw materials. Overall, though, many exhibitors were at pains to point out their environmentally-friendly credentials, offering products free from formaldehyde, and highlighting potential consumer sensitivity to manufacturing pollutants.

The 17th China (Guangzhou) International Building Decoration Fair and Guangzhou Shading and Window-Door Expo had pretty much everything for the discerning homeowner. Custom-made furniture for the whole house, including wardrobes, kitchen cabinets, windows and wooden doors, ceilings and floorings, building decorations and hardware, wall decorations as well as bathroom accessories were all on display.

Consumers Spurning Mass Produced Furnishings

Photo: Innovative, space-saving solutions.
Innovative, space-saving solutions.
Photo: Innovative, space-saving solutions.
Innovative, space-saving solutions.

From the evidence at the events, mass-produced, standardised home furnishings can no longer satisfy many consumers' taste for individuality. As a result, according to the show organiser, the customisation business has very bright prospects and represents a key growth area for the home furnishing industry. A survey of exhibitors showed that 62% said they would actively expand their product varieties, with only 38% saying they preferred to focus on their current business.

Guangzhou Snimay Home, founded in 2003, exhibited its wardrobe products at the Building Decoration Fair. The company, headquartered in Guangzhou, was named one of the most influential brands in China's wardrobe industry by the China Furniture and Decoration Chamber of Commerce. There are now more than 800 Snimay stores across the mainland, with outlets in 30 provinces, cities and autonomous regions.

Huang Weiguo, Vice President of Snimay Home and General Manager of the wardrobe division, said the company has a strong portfolio in customised wardrobe production. It has now imported a Homag production line from Germany in order to boost production capacity, with its output projected to reach Rmb400 million this year.

Huang believed that the bespoke wardrobe sector would see a ten-fold growth in the near future, on top of its rapid growth over the last three years. The business is also diversifying, with Snimay product lines now extending to doors and windows. Huang predicted that the custom-made wardrobe business in China would surge by around 20-25% as a whole this year, while his company expects a 40-50% growth in its own wardrobe sales.

Photo: Primy’s range of bathroom fixtures.
Primy's range of bathroom fixtures.
Photo: Primy’s range of bathroom fixtures.
Primy's range of bathroom fixtures.

According to Huang, Snimay puts a real emphasis on environmental protection. It sees its use of wheat straw plywood – a type of eco-friendly formaldehyde-free artificial plywood – as helping promote a greener, low-carbon home environment.

The company plans to build on its existing strengths, consolidating its home furnishing business over the next three-to-five years, though has not ruled out the possibility of developing into other areas in future. Huang says Snimay has also been putting considerable emphasis on brand building, with strengthened promotion efforts throughout its operations. The company currently advertises on China Central Television (CCTV), in Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport and on 10 major high-speed rail lines on the mainland.

The Growing Importance of Branding

The 'tailor built house' logo of Guangzhou Holike Creative Home Furnishing based proved particularly eye-catching at the show. Paul Andreu, the architect behind China's National Centre for the Performing Arts, is the company's chief designer and its image spokesman. Holike uses eco-friendly, formaldehyde-free primary plywood with zero additives as the core material for its various product lines, such as the Mandellin, European Boutique, Supreme Antique Carves, Original Board and Solid Wood series.

Photo: Power Dekor’s wooden door collection.
Power Dekor's wooden door collection.
Photo: Power Dekor’s wooden door collection.
Power Dekor's wooden door collection.

Another exhibitor, Shanghai's Power Dekor Group, showcased its flagship laminate flooring products, along with kitchen cabinets, wardrobes and wooden doors. The company customises products according to clients' specifications and operates a 'standard scale integration' system for large homes. The system standardises the material, production, style, service and design of custom furnishings in order to offer customers one-stop home furnishings shopping experiences, albeit trading some individuality in favour a more streamlined service.

Power Dekor also rolled out a number of new products at the show, including a standardised door that embodies a 'new door, new choice' concept. According to the company, its wooden doors are eco-friendly, with surfaces free from toxic substances, such as formaldehyde and heavy metals.

The company claims its products are stain-resistant and easy to clean, while also being hardwearing, with a 5H-level hardness to withstand scratches. The doors also resist colour fade over time, as well as being fire-retardant, having a reduced burn speed and a delayed ignition time.

Luxury Wood Furniture

The rise in living standards has fuelled consumers' growing pursuit of individuality. As a result, a substantial market for primary wood and solid wood furniture has gradually emerged, with abundant market potential existing for luxurious furnishing styles.

This is highlighted by the Jingyihaoting brand, available from Dongguan's Best Furniture. This consists of a range of American style solid wood furniture. The company's General Manager of Marketing, Xiao Wangsheng, said its two current major product lines are movable furniture and its wide range of home furnishings.

According to Xiao, the company aims for a high-end positioning and uses American oak, hickory, cherry wood and African rosewood as its customised and whole house furnishing materials, with North American catalpa used in movable furniture. Offering a one-stop service to customers, Best Furniture claims to complete the whole furnishing process, from site measurement, design, custom furniture production to final delivery, within approximately three months.

Photo: The Dongguan Best Furniture stand.
The Dongguan Best Furniture stand.
Photo: The Dongguan Best Furniture stand.
The Dongguan Best Furniture stand.
Photo: Shijihaomen’s Ceiling Hangings Display Zone.
Shijihaomen's Ceiling Hangings Display Zone.
Photo: Shijihaomen’s Ceiling Hangings Display Zone.
Shijihaomen's Ceiling Hangings Display Zone.

Xiao said that whole-house customised furnishings for a 300-400 sqm residence, from on-site measurement to final installation and warranty, costs an average of about Rmb2 million. Its customised furnishing business alone has resulted in 60-70% annual growth for Best Furniture. Xiao believes that the high-end consumption market will continue to hold very good prospects, with mass-produced furniture increasingly seen as outdated.

Similarly taking advantage of this trend is St Emperor International Whole Wood Custom. Positioned at the high-end of the market, the company's Deputy General Manager, Yang Xianman, described its products as luxury items from design to layout and all made entirely of imported wood. The firm's design directors and consultants are all Italian.

Some 70% of St Emperor's orders are placed by villa residents, with assets in the Rmb5-10 million range. In 2013, the company's customers came mostly from the Jiangsu-Zhejiang, Bohai Bay, Beijing-Tianjin-Tangshan and coastal Guangdong regions. As of last year, rapid developments have been seen in the central mainland markets, including Hunan, Hubei and Anhui, with the company recording gross output of Rmb80 million. Its target for this year is Rmb100 million.

Smart Homes

Overall, many of the Building Decoration Fair exhibits were not only exquisite in design, but also came equipped with diverse 'smart' functions. Zhejiang's Sanfer Electric, for instance, was showcasing its T9 series of integrated cookers at the fair. According to the company, the telescopic chimney duct in its integrated cooker can be fully concealed inside the body. A touch-operated digital display panel combines all functions together, albeit with cooking times restricted to between one and 99 minutes.

Another exhibitor, L Best Intelligent Technology from Guangdong, also debuted various new products at the fair, all under a banner of 'promoting home automation in enhancing people's clothes-drying experience'. Its northern China market's Manager, Wang Xiaoyuan, said the company is now focussed on developing and manufacturing automated clothes racks, claiming that its products are smart looking and driven by technologies six to 10 years ahead of the rest of the market.

Photo: L Best’s stand at the Building Decoration Fair.
L Best's stand at the Building Decoration Fair.
Photo: L Best’s stand at the Building Decoration Fair.
L Best's stand at the Building Decoration Fair.
Photo: Smart furnishings on show.
Smart furnishings on show.
Photo: Smart furnishings on show.
Smart furnishings on show.

According to Wang, the company's automated clothes racks can be controlled wirelessly and include lighting, air-drying, smart drying and disinfection functions. All of them are described as being sold at affordable prices.

The electronic lock displays of another exhibitor, The Dongguan Shijie Honglg Electronics Factory, were designed to appeal to the more security-conscious buyers. Its product lines range from facial and fingerprint biometric identification locks, to password remote control locks and smart hotel auxiliary devices. The company claims its high-capacity biometric identification locks are able to detect all faces presented to their cameras, with no background or lighting distractions, solving a number of problems that have traditionally proved a challenge to the sector, such as changes in lighting, facial expression and age.

Smog-Resistant Window and Door Screens

Photo: Shanghai Guch Material Technology.
Shanghai Guch Material Technology.
Photo: Shanghai Guch Material Technology.
Shanghai Guch Material Technology.

At the Guangzhou Shading and Window-Door Expo, the window screens presented by Shanghai Guch Nuclear Pore Membrane Material Technology Co Ltd attracted a great deal of attention. The company's Sales Representative, Hou Yanli, explained that the screens are coated with a high-density nuclear pore membrane, which can filter out smog and plant pollen, while allowing indoor/outdoor airflow.

Hou said that this window screen operates on the diffusion principle, letting in outdoor oxygen while exhausting indoor pollutants, such as formaldehyde, benzene and ammonia. The screen's semi-transparent effect also protects customers' privacy at night, while allowing ventilation. The screen is also rain-proof, so users can leave windows open, even during the wet season.

The 17th China (Guangzhou) International Building Decoration Fair took place at the China Import and Export Fair Complex from the 8-11 of July, while the Guangzhou Shading and Window-Door Expo took place concurrently at the Poly World Trade Expo in Pazhou. The Building Decoration Fair attracted some 2,200 exhibitors, while the Shading and Window event had 500-plus exhibitors. Combined, the two events attracted some 130,000 visitors.

Xing Bin, Special Correspondent, Guangzhou

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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