24 May 2024, 15:29
By Furniture News Feb 15, 2013

The global language of IFFS

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IFFS Singapore is considered a true international design hub with good reason. The best in Eastern and Western styles converge there to create an event that heavily influences global taste – and the handwriting of British design, while most noticeable within neo-colonial elements, is everywhere. IFFS has a reputation for attracting some of the world’s most inspirational manufacturers, breaking new trends and setting the standard for the region’s exhibitions – a reputation which seems justified, writes Paul Farley …

First the facts: the trilogy of co-located events comprising the International Furniture Fair Singapore 2012 / 29th ASEAN Furniture Show (IFFS/AFS 2012), Deco Asia 2012 and The Hospitality Show 2012, featured 512 companies from 26 countries, arrayed across 67,000m2 of the Singapore Expo. Four-fifths of the exhibitors were ASEAN and South-east Asian manufacturers.

Organiser IFFS, a subsidiary of the Government-backed Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC), recorded a “record-breaking” attendance of 23,552 trade visitors, an increase of almost 13% on last year. It also reported a higher value of spot-order transactions than at the 2011 edition – US$303m, up from US$289m.

Much of this success can be put down to high growth in emerging markets. The international flavour of the March event means it suits a range of global tastes – ultra-contemporary upholstery rubs shoulders with neo-colonial and vintage chic, sleek outdoor teak with reclaimed cabinet, the mainstream with the eclectic. A good number of UK buyers could be found sizing up the offering, forming a small part of an incredibly varied global visitor base.

“The presentation in particular is up there with the world’s best … Singapore’s own d-Bodhi unveiled an amazing reclaimed/urban arena – probably the best product platform this editor has yet seen”

The show’s universal appeal makes it an essential destination for upmarket manufacturers looking to widen their scope.

The presentation in particular is up there with the world’s best. Halo’s dazzling stand, replete with the new Timothy Oulton collection, was continually abuzz with activity. Nearby, Artsome’s nautical stand, thrusting the Chinese company’s new Gunmetal range to the fore around a boat-shaped installation and bar, took the concept of thematic display to a new level. Meanwhile, Singapore’s own d-Bodhi unveiled an amazing reclaimed/urban arena – probably the best product platform this editor has yet seen.

Towards the back of the exhibition centre sat concessions to the myriad demands of today’s showgoer. Deco Asia coralled numerous accessories and furnishings suppliers, while The Green Pavilion highlighted Singapore’s sustainable capabilities. The Hospitality Show, a recent addition to the fair – and a no-brainer given the country’s reliance on tourism – was supported this year by the Hospitality.Design.Furniture Converge Asia 2012 conference, a design-oriented seminar programme featuring 30 speakers. 

Befitting the nature of the event, design initiatives enjoyed a great deal of prominence, both within the venue and outside it. D’Space rounded up some of the most intriguing exhibits from the halls, and incorporated Platform, a seminar centre and Furniture Design Award presentation site.

A significant addition was SingaPlural, the inaugural Singapore Furniture Design Week, which linked the fair with trails, installations, award presentations and parties in the heart of the city. A shuttle service ferried visitors to various downtown satellite locations, providing them with a glimpse of Singapore’s thriving design community.

“The focus on design has been the strength of our show, and we will continue to build upon that,” notes Tony Pang, chairman of the Show Advisory Panel. “To maintain our prominence in the market, we aspire to get even better at looking after our exhibitors’ needs, as well as keeping things fresh for visitors to our show.”

The numerous special segments add essential value to the visitor experience, and, far from simply paying lip service to the demands of diversity, have been well implemented and boast more substance than many standalone events of a similar nature. Crucially, the design, sustainable practice, accessory and hospitality aspects are anchored in a firm foundation of high quality domestic furniture, allowing them to grow at a sensible pace.

Design is a nebulous concept – we all have some understanding of the importance of good design, yet, like any art form, it is subjective. Be it traditional or contemporary, radical or conservative, local or international, IFFS Singapore is the closest I’ve come to finding a shared language of furniture design – it is an enriching experience, and reaffirms why this event is held in such high regard.

This report was featured in Furniture News, May 2012. This year's IFFS takes place from 9-12th March.

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