The International Furniture Fair Singapore 2016 / 33rd ASEAN Furniture Show (IFFS/AFS), along with co-located events The Décor Show and furniPRO Asia, drew to an end after a remarkable run at Singapore EXPO. Held from 10 – 13 March, the event offered industry professionals six halls of exquisite furniture pieces and inspiring collections put up by 423 exhibiting companies from 29 countries.
This year, IFFS attracted 20,343 unique visitors from 92 countries and welcomed an impressive total of 87 buying delegations. Organisers observed a good mix of retailers, importers/exporters, distributors/agents, contract specifiers, e-commerce retailers, and hospitality consultancy services at this edition, with an 8% increase in overall attendance.
Attributing part of the show’s success to the effective re-branding efforts held a few months prior, Mr Ernie Koh, Chairman of IFFS Pte Ltd, expressed, “We’ve managed to ‘marry’ the design and trade aspects of the furniture business at this edition of IFFS. In addition to being an ideal platform for striking deals and penetrating new markets, IFFS is now also the place to spot new design trends or to gain inspiration!”
The Ever-Effective Sourcing Platform
Over the years, IFFS has carved for itself a solid reputation as Asia’s premier sourcing platform and design-led exhibition. Many of its exhibitors return year after year because of the positive results that they yield from each participation.
Returning exhibitor HALO Creative & Design Limited (Hong Kong), Ms Wanda Rottstegge, Trade Marketing Manager, affirmed, “Based on what we’ve experienced, the visitorship is international and of high calibre. We’ve received a number of enquiries from new Asian, European, and Middle Eastern companies, so the team has been kept busy. IFFS 2016 was a great show for us – we’re happy with our results.”
A standout event in the Asian exhibition circuit, IFFS attracts a good number of visitors from the other side of the globe, many of whom choose to attend the show repeatedly. Ms Magdelena Montt, Representative of Dora Decora (Chile), shared, “This is my second time visiting the show. I came back because of the great quality of the exhibits. I find that there are higher-quality China exhibits here than at other regional shows. And I love that the show is so neat!”
The show is also a popular choice with the local furniture industry, not by default but because of the quality products that the comprehensive range of exhibitors offer. Ms Fanessa Liaw, Prestige Affairs (Singapore), said, “We’re a retailer looking particularly for Malaysian manufacturers to partner with. IFFS is a lot more upmarket than other regional events, and we see more original designs here than elsewhere in the region.”
Raising the Bar on the Design Quotient
Apart from the obvious trade benefits that IFFS offers the industry, the show has amplified its strength in the design department in recent years, becoming increasingly appealing to the creative industries here and beyond. Organisers pushed the design envelope further with the repositioning of The Piazza Hall and the inclusion of intriguing installations – such as the Tree of Influence and Pyramid of Notion – across the show floor.
Of special mention are the 20 up-and-coming designers who exhibited under the Design STARS collective, and the select groups of designers or design studios that participated in the International Design Showcase. For many of these individuals, IFFS was a priceless opportunity for them to gain greater exposure. Design STAR participant, Mr Kok Yih Ming, Design Principal of Kudzu Pte Ltd (Singapore), revealed, “I don’t usually engage in publicity activities for my business but being part of the showcase gave me added media exposure, which I appreciate a lot. I’ve received good response towards my designs, and I might come back as a paying exhibitor next year.”
Yet another noteworthy feature was the Furniture Design Award (FDA) Showcase, which consists of competition entries submitted by the 11 finalists of FDA 2016. Commenting on her decision to participate, Grand Winner, Ms Katarzyna Kempa (Poland), said, “I was first attracted to compete because I identified with what FDA stands for. The prize and the opportunity to visit Singapore were bonuses, and I’m glad I applied because being at IFFS is a significant milestone for me. It is far different than other European shows I’ve been to in terms of aesthetics, materials, and visitor interest. IFFS gave me the chance to gather new Asian contacts, and also to learn from others even as I present my pieces and my perspective. I’m expectant about future collaborations and opportunities that may arise from this.”
Looking ahead, the Organisers are confident of capturing more attention from the furniture and creative industries at large. Mr Phua Boon Huat, Chairman of the IFFS Show Advisory Panel, stated, “We had a very good run this year and we’re moving in the right direction. The team will focus on further enhancing the show experience for exhibitors and visitors alike, and we’ll share more as we firm up on our plans in the course of the year.”
The next edition of IFFS will take place from 9 – 12 March 2017 in Singapore EXPO.