There was plenty of tropical wood furniture to be found at the first two big European furniture exhibitions of 2018 – the IMM interiors fair in Cologne, Germany (IMMCologne), and the January Furniture Show at the NEC in Birmingham, UK (JFS-Birmingham).
At the German and UK shows, plantation teak and mahogany furniture made a particularly strong showing, while other prominent tropical species included acacia, mango, munggur/suar (Albizia saman, also called Rain Tree).
At both events, there seemed to be a fashion too for recycled tropical timber products, with tables and storage units made from a range of species recovered from old doors, flooring, decking and even boats. Indian companies seemed to be particularly favoured, with their style currently in fashion, said exhibitors.
“Originally these recycled pieces looked recycled, with a deliberately rustic finish,” said one UK designer-importer. “But now, manufacturers, under our guidance, are working the wood more and going for more sophisticated, polished styles.”
In fact, furniture from tropical countries has been performing reasonably well in the European market for the last four years.
There was a slight dip in EU imports in 2016, which some attributed to the impact on wider consumer confidence caused by the UK’s vote to leave the EU, although others said it was small enough (under 3%), to have been ‘normal trade fluctuation’. But business picked up again last year as EU imports rebounded 7% to euro1.75 billion.