Mr Phua Boon Huat, President, Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC),
Mr Mark Yong, Chairman, Design Committee Chairman,
Mr Ernie Koh, Presidential Advisor, SFIC,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. A very good morning to all of you. I am happy to be here with you today at the unveiling of the Urban Living Showcase. I want to extend my heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to the Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC) for driving the Design Innovation Programme (DIP). I look forward to visiting the showcase and meeting the talents behind the innovations.
The evolving landscape
2. Our furniture industry has come a long way since its early days. Today, Singapore’s furniture industry is known for its high quality and solutions for high-density urban environments. The global furniture industry is expected to continue its growth of 5% per annum from 2020 to 2025. Our furniture companies look well-poised to ride on this expansion, with the rising tide of e-commerce and increasing affluence in Asia.
3. Why do I say e-commerce? Two years ago, at the height of pandemic, I launched the Creative Showcase virtually. I was told that because of that, it allowed our Singapore furniture companies to gain access to the European market. Earlier at FIND, I made a speech and talked about the market size, and it bears repeating that there are immense opportunities in Southeast Asia, because the regional furniture sector is projected to reach US$18 billion this year, with an annual growth of 15%, reaching US$27 billion in three years’ time. I think we need to seize this window of opportunity.
4. As the landscape of furniture design evolves, our designers and furniture firms are challenged to re-imagine and create furniture that meets both form and function. It does not have to be mutually exclusive. For instance, Covid-19 has disrupted and changed the way we live, work, and play. Working from home is fast becoming an option requested, or in some instances, wanted by more workers nowadays. This has led to stronger demand for space-efficient and ergonomic work and home furniture.
5. Some of the collections that are being featured in the Urban Living Showcase address these changing consumer preferences. I am very glad that participants from the Design Innovation Programme (DIP) are given the chance to show their ideas and solutions. At this platform, we have a lot of buyers – not just from Singapore, but from Asia and Europe, like Italy. I hope that these three days will open up many market opportunities for our DIP participants and local furniture companies.
Riding the design innovation wave
6. The Design Innovation Programme is one of the many initiatives that SFIC and Enterprise Singapore have undertaken to help our designers and furniture firms stay ahead of the curve. Mark and Boon Huat mentioned that collaboration does not have to be confined within the sector. Innovation happens at the intersection of different sectors. That is how innovations are usually sparked. In terms of thinking about furniture design, there is tremendous opportunity for us to take a multidisciplinary approach, whether through designers, furniture firms or even IT. Through the DIP, Enterprise Singapore and theSFIC have made it possible for our local furniture players to partner with designers to innovate and come up with clever, relevant and commercially-viable solutions for urban lifestyles.
7. Innovation is the way forward for our furniture industry. Many local furniture companies have since moved from original equipment manufacturing (OEM) of the past to building their own brands and innovating with original designs. Our own local furniture companies have really transformed over the years, especially in the past two and a half years. They have gone digital to expand their footprint, customer reach and markets.
8. I am glad that SFIC, under the leadership of Boon Huat, Mark and Ernie, has always been at the forefront of innovation and progress.
a. SFIC recognised the need for local furniture companies to differentiate themselves with distinctive designs, innovative features and compelling brand stories.
b. Since 2019, the DIP has seeded more than 30 collaborations in the furniture sector. It has enhanced design capabilities and talents, and encouraged greater brand ownership and advanced product development of urban living solutions.
Staying globally competitive
9. I am glad that Singapore furniture companies are continuing to build your brands and boosting your design and innovation skills to stay globally competitive.
a. The Urban Living Showcase features more than 10 collections from DIP participants. Besides the exhibition, the collections have also been launched online.
b. Some of the innovative collections include the Steward Smart Space Series by NextofKin Creatives, which is a range of smart furniture add-on systems that declutters tables to improve the dining experience.
c. Another example is the OVAL collection by Air Division, which features furniture with smart functions and hidden storage that can be mixed and matched or easily expanded.
10. Besides visiting the showcase, I hope that all of us here will take the chance to network, incubate ideas and collaborate with like-minded designers, buyers and prospective partners.
11. Partnerships play a key role in growing our industry and boosting our economy. SFIC is our valued and long-term partner whom we have worked closely with to uplift industry capabilities and create new business prospects and opportunities for our Singapore companies.
12. I am very heartened to hear that SFIC will continue to grow the DIP and future-proof our local furniture companies by sharpening their competitive edge.
13. I trust that SFIC and our Singapore furniture industry will press on to innovate and present fresh ideas and bright solutions that enhance our urban lifestyles and future living.
14. On this note, I wish you all a fruitful time at the Urban Living Showcase and a wonderful day ahead. Thank you.