Freeman Cebu Business

Furniture makers going custom-made to survive

Ehda M. Dagooc - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines – Producing personalized custom-made furniture pieces for both domestic and export markets will be the driving force of the furniture industry to stay in business, this as the sector remains to be in survival mode.

Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation Inc., (CFIF) vice president for marketing Christina Maria Gaston believes that if there is one edge that Cebu furniture makers can bank on, that is to focus on doing customized furniture to overcome the demand drought from overseas markets.

This trend is seen to take off in 2017 as manufacturers have already made some promotions and gained good feedback from the affluent clientele from here and abroad, which means that the furniture industry in Cebu is heading towards another path, to put more value on its design capability, which commands higher cost.

Veering away from mass production, the furniture sector has finally found its identity in the world market, opting to serve the discriminating affluent market both here and abroad, who only minds about uniqueness and individuality of design, rather than the cost.

With this, 2017 will stamp Cebu's identity on premium, exclusive and luxury designer furniture and home furnishing items.

In fact, this direction was already mentioned by New York-based interior designer Erik Lopez in an earlier interview, saying Cebu's furniture industry should shift to higher-end furniture production, and work directly to clients making pieces of which designs are dictated by customers, not by mere trends or "what's in."

A graduate from Parsons School of Design College in New York City, Lopez said that there is a growing market in the world, demanding for less mainstream designs, entering what designers call as "non-era."

The phenomenon is a shift from purchasing "off-the-rack" furniture or home furnishing pieces, to custom-made or personalized designs.

From outsiders' point of view, Lopez believes that if Cebu will be able to sense the pulse of the furniture market in the world, there is no way that the industry will fall into the "sunset [industry]" category.

In fact, he said Cebu has a huge potential to well position itself in the customized furniture making business in the world.

"Collectively, the Philippines is a country of talented people. Filipinos in nature are creative," said Lopez.

Besides, he said before exploring the "new-age" furniture market segment in the world, Cebu's furniture industry has rich clientele within its home-ground, as sophistication of the domestic market is happening.

World renowned industrial designer Kenneth Cobonpue echoed Lopez’s insight, who also believes that the way Cebu could overcome the slow recovering export demand is to go custom-made.

Either targeting the domestic or export market Cebu furniture industry is seen to make its luster back in 2017 by turning off the "mass fashion" mindset and turning on the culture of catering one client at a time, or personalized service. (FREEMAN)


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