14 April 2024, 00:01
By Furniture News Feb 04, 2016

Fair Comment: International Furniture Fair Singapore (IFFS)

In Fair Comment, Furniture News quizzes the people behind the scenes to discover what makes their exhibition unique, what changes are taking place, and why buyers from the UK and ROI should take note. In this article, Ernie Koh, chairman of IFFS, describes the benefits of Singapore’s flagship event, International Furniture Fair Singapore (IFFS) …

Identity: Design connects inspiration to trade – IFFS is Asia’s premier sourcing platform and design-led exhibition, providing a distinctive channel for international companies to penetrate the global market, and held in conjunction with the ASEAN Furniture Show and The Décor Show.

Attendance: In 2014, a total of 22,496 visitors from 115 countries attended. This dropped to 18,836 visitors from 102 countries in 2015. We don’t make figurative predictions, but, with the enhanced experience that we’re working hard on, we’re expecting a better edition this year.

In terms of exhibitor numbers, the 2014 edition featured 418 exhibitors from 33 countries. In 2015 there were 487 exhibitors from 39 countries, and in 2016 we’re expecting to present 450 exhibitors from nearly 40 countries – with more debuts on the show floor than previously.

What’s new? With a newly-curated hall layout, IFFS 2016 offers a spatial and experiential linkage which will enhance the trade show experience. Visitors can expect to be welcomed by a main piazza buzzing with activities that aims to celebrate design and innovations, making it an exciting place to kindle new ideas and inspiration, while exhibitors will showcase the best of the best through various touch points.

Other proposed key highlights include an impressive presentation of innovative materials, as well as a Gallery of ArtForms, which shows how furniture products and accessories can be transformed into art pieces and sculptures.

There will also be a Design STARS showcase (formerly known as Asian STAR) and design dialogues and business-empowered seminars. The designers’ corner at IFFS goes beyond the Asian continent, with award-winning designers from the Americas and Europe.

Some designers already signed up for the 2016 edition are: Arturo Erbsman from Paris; Henry Hsiao from nbt.STUDIO, Taiwan; Daisuke Kitagawa from Design for Industry, Inc, Japan;                                                     

HsinChun Wang from HCWD Studio, New York; Olivier Polmanss from France; and Studiohiji from Indonesia.

Because of overwhelming response, the international garden and outdoor exhibitors will now be grouped within a new pavilion, with a garden boulevard concept. Visitors will be able to witness how design consultants use vertical gardening and greenery to make indoor space look like the outdoors.

At the same time, visitors can also expect a real outdoor experience at an outdoor lounge and cafe from Maiori Design. We are also looking at thematic lounge settings to bring out the authentic flavours of each partner country.

“Exhibitors and visitors can look forward to a brand-new encounter with the fair this year”

Last year we introduced the Design Hall which was located right in the middle of the show, featuring ambient venue lighting and causing a creative buzz. Anchoring the exhibition in this hall were the furniture industry’s movers and shakers, with their innovative collections, unique ideas and strong brand stories.

Direction? Design, inspiration and trade. IFFS is leveraging design to take its 2016 edition to the next level with the objective of inspiring new ideas, nurturing business bonds and forging connections. That new tagline will work like an ecosystem in which design connects inspiration to trade, inspiration connects trade to design, and trade connects design to inspiration.

How has the launch of Maison&Objet Singapore affected IFFS? Both are different shows with different target audiences, so I wouldn’t say there’s been any specific positive or negative impact.

Why have the show dates reverted to those in 2013, after moving closer to the Chinese events in recent years? Our ears are peeled to listen to the feedback from our stakeholders, and we value their constructive contributions to enhance and improve every edition. After some feedback from exhibitors and visitors, as well as a preference to start off the show on a weekday and end on a weekend, we decided to shift the dates back.

What would you say to criticisms that the product at IFFS has become less exclusive in recent years? In fact, the show has evolved – besides the trade component at the expo, we have added vibrancy across the city through the SingaPlural programme. With the activities at the trade fair and in the city, the show has, essentially, expanded, and grown in content, with satellite events and showcases peppered throughout the city.

Design needs to be affordable and commercial in order for it to be successful. Less exclusive and high end may be a good thing – we focus on accessible design.

How is the event’s drive to attract hospitality and contract specialists going? It is an ongoing process. The buying patterns within Asia and globally may be different, but the business of investment, construction, design, management, operation and supplying to hotels remains the same. So we are working on our methodology to make it a business platform for all delegates.

We are bringing together dedicated hospitality segments from the market, including hoteliers, interior designers, architects and property developers, into IFFS and The Décor Show, and looking at a targeted approach of having delegates come together from affluent Asia – Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, China and Hong Kong.

Some of our marketing efforts also include creating awareness through relevant trade media for the hospitality and contract sector, and establishing direct contact with a new database of hospitality and contract specialists in the region.

We have buyers’ networking sessions we’re working on, in India, Thailand and Germany, so we are focusing on innovative marketing efforts to connect to the world and come together.

How does IFFS seek to refine its own individual identity, in contrast to other shows? We are an international show. The rest are country-specific shows. And while we maintain our commitment to being Asia’s most exciting furniture sourcing platform, IFFS 2016 aspires to be an international launchpad to showcase new products and collections from the furniture and furnishing industry. We are targeting to bring in around 30% new exhibitors who have new collections to launch in the marketplace. So there will always be something new, something fresh, for our trade visitors to look out for!

Anything else? For the first time, furniPRO Asia, the leading trade fair for the woodworking, furniture and panel production industries in South-east Asia, will be co-located with IFFS.

To make IFFS an even more holistic trade event, the annual co-located SingaPlural event will return for its fifth edition, to showcase the best design elements from the multi-faceted creative spectrum – advertising, architecture, urban planning and landscape architecture, as well as interior, furniture, graphic and fashion design, through installations, exclusively-curated design spaces, symposiums and many other activities.

In a nutshell, exhibitors and visitors can look forward to a brand-new encounter with the fair this year. The industry can expect to see even richer content as we host some high-profile brands.

Why is IFFS better than its competitors? With three decades of experience under our hat, IFFS is the most distinctive channel for regional and international companies to penetrate the global market. To make it a holistic trade event, various design initiatives, such as SingaPlural, add depth and dimension to this trade event, raising its profile as a show on the industry calendar not to be missed.

Nonetheless, we take nothing for granted – hence we are always looking to innovate and refresh the show, and as IFFS undergoes a revamp for 2016, we will continue to identify more collaborations that will elevate its ASEAN presence.

IFFS takes place from 10-13th March at Singapore Expo.

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