Plan to build up furniture sector into Asian hub

Strategies include helping firms expand beyond S'pore and encouraging workers to upgrade their skills

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim talking to Mr Razvan Ghilic-Micu and Ms Jia Xin Chum about their installation Headspace at the Singapore Design Week yesterday.
Dr Yaacob Ibrahim talking 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

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 yesterday, 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 skills, and promoting the viewing of design as something that goes beyond aesthetics to provide urban living solutions.

SFIC president Mark Yong said the global furniture industry is expected to grow from $631 billion last year to $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 technology, rather than rely on traditional business concepts and supply chains.

A Living Lab will also be launched here by next year to promote trade and collaboration between industry partners. And a new Digital Insights Programme, offering 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.

It was drawn up with input from groups such as the furniture industry, urban planners and architects, as well as the DesignSingapore Council, International Enterprise 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.


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

DR YAACOB IBRAHIM, Minister for Communications and Information, on the SFIC's strategies.

Speaking at the launch of Singapore Design Week at the National Design Centre, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said 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 the DesignSingapore Council.

Singapore Design Week, which runs until March 18, is a celebration of all things design, with events such as exhibitions and talks. Last year's festival drew over 60,000 people.

Ms Agnes Kwek, executive director of the DesignSingapore Council, the festival organiser, expects the figure to be surpassed this year. "More importantly, beyond numbers, we hope that the public will deepen their connection with design."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2018, with the headline 'Plan to build up furniture sector into Asian hub'. Print Edition | Subscribe