16 April 2024, 11:20
By Paul Farley, reporting from Indonesia Mar 11, 2014

IFEX - first impressions of Indonesia's new furniture fair

It's been a year since I stood in this very venue in the heart of Jakarta, struck by the warmth and charm of Indonesia's trademark teak and rattan furniture, amid a slew of exotic handicrafts.

As a window upon the Indonesian market, the IFFINA exhibition was unsurpassed - and still going places, with an enviable growth rate that reflected an export industry starting to come into its own.

On the face of it, a lot has changed since then. In July, global event organiser UBM announced the launch of a new Indonesian show, IFEX, which boasted the backing of the Ministry of Trade, and that of AMKRI, a key association. The latest in UBM's aggressive entry into the Far East event calendar - hot on the heels of the acquisition of Malaysia's MIFF two years ago - IFEX quickly ousted IFFINA as the event of choice for both Indonesia's manufacturers and international visitors, relegating IFFINA to second place (and a postponed dateline) before either show even opened.

"There is a strong feeling that the IFFINA of yesterday has been bolstered strongly by the IFEX of today"

However, following a cursory inspection of the event, the change from IFFINA to IFEX has not been as significant as one might expect. The venue remains the same, albeit filled out. The exhibitor count stands proud at around 700, a number of component, coating and timber suppliers - alongside a few high-end interior fabric suppliers and a fair few small handicraft concerns - augmenting the core furniture offering. The bulk of IFFINA's key players are still in place, their stands often in their traditional locations.

Yet there is growth, reflected in the many new exhibitors on site. There's been some cosmetic overhaul, and until a new venue is established, little will change in the way of the show's layout and appearance - but there is a strong feeling that the IFFINA of yesterday has been bolstered strongly by the IFEX of today. When UBM truly begins to bring its international audience databases and sister events to bear on Indonesia - and it's made a very good start - there's a good chance the country will start to realise its lofty export ambitions, and do so much faster than it would have in the hands of a less powerful event organiser.

To those UK buyers not yet acquainted with the Indonesian furniture scene, I encourage a closer look at its characteristic styles and preferred materials - just search out some of my reports from last year's event, or make sure you read my full report in an upcoming issue (and please bear in mind that many of the points made in this web article are just early assumptions - IFFINA boasts a good 450-odd exhibitors, so it is too soon to rule out its international relevance).

That said, thus far I've been quietly impressed by Indonesia's newest event - it may not be revolutionary, but it offers more than ever, and has the scope to deliver year after year.

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