Road map to boost furniture industry unveiled at opening of Singapore Design Week

At the opening of Singapore Design Week on March 5, 2018, the Singapore Furniture Industries Council announced a slew of strategies to keep the industry competitive and sustain its long-term growth.
At the opening of Singapore Design Week on March 5, 2018, the Singapore Furniture Industries Council announced a slew of strategies to keep the industry competitive and sustain its long-term growth.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
At the opening of Singapore Design Week on March 5, 2018, the Singapore Furniture Industries Council announced a slew of strategies to keep the industry competitive and sustain its long-term growth.
At the opening of Singapore Design Week on March 5, 2018, the Singapore Furniture Industries Council announced a slew of strategies to keep the industry competitive and sustain its long-term growth.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
Dr Yaacob Ibrahim talks  to Publicworks' Razvan Ghilic-Micu, and Kvadrat's Melissa Liu Poulsen about the installation Headspace at the Singapore Design Week on March 5, 2018.
Dr Yaacob Ibrahim talks to Publicworks' Razvan Ghilic-Micu, and Kvadrat's Melissa Liu Poulsen about the installation Headspace at the Singapore Design Week on March 5, 2018.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

SINGAPORE - The council that represents the furniture and furnishings industry in Singapore has unveiled an industry road map with the aim to make the sector an Asian hub by 2021.

At the opening of Singapore Design Week on Monday (March 5), the Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC) announced a slew of strategies to keep the industry competitive and sustain its long-term growth.

These include helping local companies expand beyond Singapore, encouraging employees to upgrade their skills, and encouraging the viewing of design as something that goes beyond aesthetics to provide urban living solutions.

Mr Mark Yong, president of SFIC, said the global furniture industry is expected to grow from S$631 billion in 2017 to S$766 billion in 2021, with the highest growth coming from Asia.

"Modern consumers are increasingly seeking individualised experiences and have higher expectations from brands. This requires developing bespoke propositions that appeal to distinct consumer groups, such as the urban middle class and the urban silvers," he said.

The 2021 Furniture Industry road map urges local companies to be innovative and tap on technology, rather than rely on traditional business concepts and supply chains.

A Living Lab will also be launched in Singapore by next year to promote trade and collaboration between industry partners. And a new Digital Insights Programme, which offers seminars by experts in big data, analytics and data visualisation, will benefit local small and medium-sized enterprises.

The road map was commissioned by the SFIC, with funding from the DesignSingapore Council, and drawn up with input from groups such as the furniture industry, urban planners, architects, and the DesignSingapore Council, IE Singapore and Spring Singapore.

Mr Yong described the outlook for the global furniture industry as promising, with a projected compound annual growth rate of close to 5 per cent over the next three years.

This growth will be driven by the burgeoning Asian middle class as Asian economies will account for half of global gross domestic product growth by 2025, he said.

Citing Singapore's status as a Unesco Creative City of Design, and its cosmopolitan landscape, he said the furniture industry here is well-poised to meet the growing demand, especially in Asia.

This means "moving into lifestyle, creating compelling customer-centric brands and solutions, and inclusive collaborations within and beyond the industry", Mr Yong added.

Aside from the SFIC, there are eight other design industry associations working with the DesignSingapore Council to identify three-year road maps to transform the design sector.

Speaking at the launch of Singapore Design Week at the National Design Centre, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, said that the SFIC's strategies "will take advantage of Asia's growing demand for urban living solutions".

"Together, we will help businesses to design user-centric urban living solutions and to become more agile through continuous testing and prototyping. This will enable our design businesses to compete in the region and beyond."

Singapore is making "good progress" in strengthening its "ecosystem for design", he added, citing findings from a recent study by DesignSingapore Council.

"Companies are investing more in design and design training. They are also more willing to give in-house design champions a seat in the boardroom, growing from 12 to 32 per cent, to drive strategic use of design in their companies."

Singapore Design Week, which runs till March 18, is a celebration of all things design, with a wide range of events such as exhibitions, workshops and talks.

Last year's festival drew more than 60,000 people - a figure Ms Agnes Kwek, executive director of DesignSingapore Council, the festival's organiser, expects to be surpassed this year.

"More importantly, beyond numbers, we hope that the public will deepen their connection with design," she added.

For more information, visit https://www.designsingapore.org/en/sdw