Work Design Contributing Editor, Elise Shapiro, lately travelled to Shanghai for the China International Furniture Fair. Learn on for an in-depth recap of the occasion!
I’ve attended over 20 NeoCon occasions plus a number of business conferences over my profession, all inside the borders of the US. When provided the chance to journey to the September 2018 version in Shanghai, I jumped on the probability. One cannot precisely seize the dimensions, scale and breadth of the present as skilled in-person.
The kick-off banquet was a gala affair setting the tone for all the present
Initially conceived as the first showcase for the China furnishings business, beginning in 1998, it has advanced over the previous a number of years as the first car to showcase the furnishings business for each residential and contract markets in China and the APAC area. Whereas there has traditionally been a notion that these exhibits exhibit an abundance of “knock-off” choices, the emergence of a strong design group and efforts to create unique product choices now yield a present robustly presenting the depth and breadth of the present state of furnishings design and manufacturing within the area.
The present, organized by the China Overseas Commerce Exhibition Basic Company, this yr provides co-sponsorship, and participation from Purple Star Macalline Group Company Ltd., an organization that operates and manages house enchancment and furnishings purchasing malls. Underneath the Purple Star Macalline model identify. It’s estimated as of late 2017, their portfolio consists of 256 buying malls, providing roughly 20,000 manufacturers throughout 177 cities in 29 provinces, municipalities, and autonomous areas within the Individuals’s Republic of China. The Shanghai venue is the Nationwide Exhibition & Conference Middle, within the Hongqiao district of Shanghai. Sheer measurement and Described because the world’s largest exhibition venue, I don’t doubt that it meets that description. It took our bus about twenty minutes to circumvent the constructing to place us on the drop off to the primary present entrance. Configured in a four-petal configuration with concentric circulation each vehicular and pedestrian, a map in hand was a continuing necessity. Fortuitously, color-coded approach discovering made it simpler to discover the pavilions and bi-lingual signage was important. For comparability to Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, and equally imposing constructing, I stored questioning what number of Merchandise Mart’s would slot in this location!
An aerial view of the Nationwide Exhibition and Convention Middle – Picture courtesy of NECCThe colour-coded map was instrumental in navigating the present – every pavilion is keyed to a selected market sector – Picture courtesy of CIFF
A couple of caveats about our protection. The present is most undoubtedly geared to consumers from the wholesale market, each home and worldwide. There have been restricted alternatives to converse with exhibitors due to the language barrier, virtually universally, flashing my media credentials yielded an entry to the producer’s sales space, however no choice to discover out extra concerning the product. Conversely, this was virtually liberating, in that my observations and impressions are woven right into a story based mostly on what I noticed relative to the design, supplies, high quality, and presentation based mostly solely alone expertise. I feel that is necessary as a result of the world is getting a lot smaller and the worldwide influences on design are rather more prevalent available on the market(s) right here within the US. As extra companies function on the worldwide stage, and design companies will not be essentially restricted to do work of their house cities and nations, it’s crucial that we turn out to be extra knowledgeable by what’s going on outdoors our borders.
The kick-off banquet on Sunday night included the awards for the most effective in design, The Pinnacle Awards Asia-Pacific, an awards program that may be a joint effort of CIFF and the American Society of Furniture Designers (ASFD) and the Excessive Level Furniture Market. The profitable merchandise and producers are prominently featured all through the present. As the one worldwide furnishings and residential furnishing design award within the area, this strikes the ball ahead to put these merchandise and producers within the international highlight.
Moreover, there have been a couple of exhibitions, inside the bigger occasion, notably the “Design Dream Show” and the East Design Present and Chinese language Design Tendencies, which promulgates the notion that “good design is good business.” These occasions, geared to selling and heralding the event of Chinese language design, presenting them at CIFF Shanghai demonstrates the continued significance of this occasion for the Chinese language the furnishings design, manufacturing, and retailing group. It provides worldwide attendees a broad overview of product design and improvement on this crucial international market.
The Design Dream Present garnered a packed viewers from the design group and consumers
The relevance of CIFF within the bigger world of office design
Getting into the exhibition middle transports you right into a whirling vortex of individuals heading to the varied pavilions. With an estimated 200,000 attendees unfold over the breadth of the corridor NECC’s 400,000 m² (four.3M SF), plus the every day inhabitants of adjoining workplace buildings you’re in a hive of exercise. We expect the relevance of this exhibition to our readers is to get a glimpse of what’s occurring globally. No matter all of the political drama and potential commerce points – it’s important to view this from the attitude of furnishings design and markets outdoors of our geographical consolation zone. It’s this author’s opinion that it might be naïve to assume that the increasing improvement of China’s furnishings business and concerted effort to promote higher design and manufacturing methods won’t have an effect worldwide. Though there was a smattering of producers from Europe and different elements of the APAC area, the present is most decidedly geared to the Chinese language market. A lot of the attendees characterize high-end exhibitors, designers and main retailers from 29 provinces and 182 cities from throughout China. Nevertheless, there isn’t a doubt that the furnishings exhibited right here will discover a method, or one other might be delivered and put in properly past China’s borders.
One other over-riding remark is that the exhibit exhibits the affect of design outdoors the area on the product(s) are designed and manufactured in China and the APAC area. All issues thought-about because the world will get smaller due to higher transportation, communication, and stream of individuals from one continent to one other, design ideas are extra simply transferred from one tradition to one other. So, what did we see and the way do we expect that may impression office design?
What did we see?
Within the Workplace Furniture Pavilion – there was appreciable emphasis on ergonomics and creating furnishings to improve wellness within the office. Options ranged from growing know-how to have adjustable work surfaces, lighting, and connectivity. There have been many distributors for storage lockers used considerably in co-working and free handle workspaces. A number of cubicles have been displaying up to date furnishings know-how, locking mechanisms, sit to stand desk bases, each guide and powered.
Seating takes the lead!
It might be fascinating to tabulate what number of chairs have been on show. Activity chairs took the lead relating to amount, selection, colours, materials, options, ergonomics, know-how, consolation and worth factors. Reveals ranged from refined multi-level pavilions to small perimeter cubicles displaying an array of elements and items to assemble any type of seating.
Because the “devil is in the details” there was obvious effort to differentiate product by altering out supplies and development types. Whereas many might have alluded to beforehand designed US and European product, most producers exhibiting product made vital efforts to create one thing totally different. Notable options have been chair again, and arm particulars.
Whereas there are themes which are recurrent within the bigger world of furnishings design, there have been only a few merchandise that have been poor copies of extra well-established designs, and the standard of a lot of the merchandise was significantly larger than I anticipated. I think about all worth factors can be found, though I used to be restricted within the quantity of concrete pricing info I might get on many gadgets to examine, for instance to the US market.
A couple of glimpses:
There have been hundreds of chairs, what was most fascinating was the scrutiny of design and element by attendees – Picture courtesy of CIFF
Most chairs exhibited have been activity chairs
Whereas most chairs have been generic like these pictured beforehand, this outlier had audio system and a USB port and a light-up function throughout the again. The colour, emblem and extra cushion options additionally appeared fairly a bit, in addition to throughout different producersThe ‘race car’ ergo chair was a recurring motif
What about wellbeing within the office?
Whereas the plethora of seating choices targeted on consolation and ergonomic options, there additionally was an emphasis on different furnishings to help a wholesome office. Simply as at NeoCon, there have been a number of iterations of adjustable peak tables and desks. Many reveals featured the know-how elements for offering sit- to -stand options. One exhibitor, TiMotion lately featured in WDM, had a really lively show space. It was good to see a well-known “face” within the crowd!
One thrilling show provided choices for multitasking work/train choices. A singular function of those choices was that they utilized pure supplies of their design and development. The exhibit promoted the wedding of nature and know-how in presenting their merchandise. Bike and treadmills have been spare; clear takes on extra elaborate office health choices.
Adjustable Peak work surfaces have been in all placesOne producer had an thrilling spin on practical seating to permit train within the workplace setting
Excessive shows had terrific options
One other differentiator, this present from others, attended was the flowery arrange of the producer cubicles. Whereas most commerce exhibits function pipe and drape 10 x 10 stalls, there was all kinds of presentation mini-pavilions inside the exhibit halls. Whereas some smaller corporations had small presentation areas across the perimeter, entrance and middle have been giant, elaborate mini-showrooms that have been absolutely enclosed islands inside the bigger area, and featured fairly an elaborate lighting and architectural options. These reveals offered a definite background and conveyed subliminal “brand” messaging in some ways.
This reference to the significance of tea in Chinese language tradition was a easy, elegant design factor on this Producer’s show spaceA dramatic staircase in a multi-level pavilion showcasing the fashionable design of their furnishings choices
The reveals went from amusing…
The size of the venue provided the potential of multi-level and fairly detailed revealsBasic particulars met a excessive know-how ceiling grid for this show enclosure
Common tendencies have been additionally prevalent
The merger of labor and life regarding furnishing workspace was obvious all through every pavilion. The ancillary product was entrance and middle, equally to what we now have seen at different current furnishings exhibits. Tender seating and “collaborative” areas have been featured in lots of reveals and tremendously outnumbered extra conventional office furnishings. Offering for the extra open and multi-purpose locations which are at present in vogue have been the story of the day.
Muuto was one of many few European producers on the presentMushy seating options have been easy, modular and designed for ease of re-arranging in at the moment’s open workplaceThe residential furnishings pavilion had a product that might really feel like house in any workplace surroundings – Picture Courtesy of CIFF
What else did we see?
I feel it was extra about what we didn’t see! What appeared to be absent have been the ever present “phone booths” that popped up in all places at this yr’s NeoCon. I solely noticed one or two examples of system furnishings options. A lot of the shows have been based mostly on the premise that preserving issues unfastened and versatile is the best way of the longer term for contract furnishings options. The workplace furnishings pavilion didn’t function many reveals with different architectural merchandise like flooring, wall masking or upholstery textiles. Though these are an integral a part of product introductions at NeoCon, they weren’t featured right here. Nearly all of the pavilions featured residential merchandise and associated décor in order that these gadgets might have been extra evident in these shows.
The lone telephone sales space
Typical workplace furnishings have been additionally briefly provide, but the few that I noticed, had an magnificence and ease of element that was fairly hanging.
One of many few conventional convention room optionsA “home office” settingThe “Twist” system was singularly probably the most fascinating of the restricted quantity of methods product exhibited
A number of “fun” shows confirmed a streak of humor amid the seriousness of the event. The exhibitors have been there to exhibit their product, and the consumers have been there to purchase but the visible aid provided gave the present a way of festiveness that softened the vastness of the venue and the depth of the gang(s).
Artistic seating choicesI beloved the bubble partitions!
The important thing takeaways for me have been that there’s a burgeoning artistic group inside the Chinese language furnishings market, most certainly pushed by the will for extra selection and high quality shopper items. Simply taking within the large workplace and residential complexes that serve the 24 million + inhabitants of Shanghai would point out that there’s a built-in demand for each contract and residential furnishings. Multiply that by the remainder of the area, and there’s most undoubtedly a relationship between the dimensions and scope of the present associated to the potential market on the market that may want the products and providers showcased.
The multi-day occasion was an train in furnishings overload, but it provided a view of a world in contrast to any I had ever skilled. As a first-time customer, I actually appreciated the chance to see furnishings and design from the point of view of one other tradition and setting. Little question this present will proceed to evolve because the design and furnishings business evolves on this geography. After this unimaginable introduction to CIFF – we’re wanting forward to spring in Guangzhou.