Like the Domotex show held in Hanover earlier in the month, the IMM Furniture Fair in Cologne between 16 and 22 January highlighted the challenges facing tropical suppliers looking to increase their share of the European market, as pressure continues to mount from domestic manufacturers and non-wood materials.
Demand for wooden exterior furniture, traditionally an important niche market for tropical wood products, is coming under pressure from other modern weatherresistant materials.
However, the Fair also emphasised that wood, alongside other natural materials and organic finishes, is very fashionable for interior furniture, that there is strong interest in furniture with a strong back story, and that small, well-designed products have an important role in the European furniture sector. All these trends offer new avenues to market for suppliers of tropical wooden furniture.
As if to emphasise these opportunities, the headline of the leading article on the IMM show by Decoist, a leading online magazine focused on architecture and modern design was “Wood is beyond good – it’s sensational!”.
Decoist observes that “one of the big furniture design trends of 2017 is undoubtedly the way in which top manufacturers and designers have so whole heartedly embraced wood. In a world where organic finishes and natural materials are making a rapid comeback, wood is definitely the absolute king of 2017 and this trend is likely to continue to last beyond the year as well!”
Decoist’s comment that “Indonesia made a big impact at this year’s show with their unique creations” is particularly encouraging for the tropical wood sector and an early sign of the potential of Indonesia’s market development strategy in Europe.
Indonesia had a significant presence at the show having booked just under 600 square metres for a national pavilion displaying products from a wide range of Indonesian companies, a timely investment in marketing for a national furniture industry that is the first, and only capable of delivering 100% FLEGT-licensed product.
Indonesia did well to target IMM Cologne which is now one of world’s leading furniture shows following a marketing drive to internationalise the event. The show achieved a record number of visitors this year, exceeding 150,000 for the first time.
Of the 104,000 trade visitors, around 56,000 came from Germany and 48,000 from abroad (an increase of 4%).
There were particularly large increases in visitor numbers from Spain, Russia, Italy, the UK, Netherlands, Poland, China, South Korea, India and the United Arab Emirates.
The show boasted around 1,200 exhibitors from 50 countries displaying more than 100,000 pieces of furniture and furnishing items, a third of which were shown to the international market for the first time in Cologne.