The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) wants the Philippines to be a global hub for furniture and it intends to make this happen by the year 2030. To meet this target, the agency has been supporting the local furniture industry in stepping up efforts to make their products even more competitive in the international market.

To increase its share abroad, the local industry has engaged in various programs that can help further advance the skills involved in creating consistently stylish, up-to-date designs, maintaining quality control in its products, and through innovatively using local, sustainable materials.

Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines, Inc. (CFIP), a national group of firms, chapters and affiliates that work together for the mutual benefit and the sustainable growth of the Philippine furniture industry, said that the main strength of the industry is on design, especially the parts and pieces that uses sustainable materials or indigenous components such as abaca, bamboo, coco coir, buri, and pina fiber.

Already, a market abroad exists for Philippine-made furniture and designers like Kenneth Cobonpue have made strides by drawing a prestigious list of international customers.  Trade shows regularly held in Manila and Cebu City have attracted a considerable number of foreign buyers who sell the merchandise to prominent customers that include major hotels located in key destinations.

DTI data indicated that of the $347 billion value of world production of furniture in 2012, 0.2 percent was accounted for by the Philippines, which shows there is room for the industry to grow.

The industry intends to increase its share in the global market to two percent by 2017. Under the roadmap, the plan is for the country’s furniture exports to rise by seven percent per market and to climb further by 10 percent in 2017.

Furniture and fixture exports have steadily increased in the last six years.  Figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that from US$165.138 million worth of exports in 2011, the exports grew to US$179.709 million in 2012, US$251.048 million in 2013, US$362.730 million in 2014, and US$297.992 million as of November 2015.

The local furniture industry is working closely with its stakeholders to further boost the numbers, particularly the export receipts. To be globally competitive, players in the homestyle and furniture industry composed of designers, design students, manufacturer-exporters, and suppliers learned more about the latest international trends during the “Homestyle Forward: International Trends Workshop.” Held at the Ronac Lifestyle Center in Makati City recently, the workshop was organized by the CFIP with the support of the Board of Investments (BOI).

Daniel Levine, director of New York City-based Avant Guide Institute and Global Editor of the website WikiTrend.org served as the resource speaker. Levine presented the 11 global social trends in the global furniture industry.  He identified these trends as Green and Natural, Socially Responsible, Heritage and Craftsmanship, Health, Introspection, Meaningful Connections, Uniqueness, Personalization, Technology, Simplicity, and Flashy Wealthy.

In her opening remarks at the workshop, BOI Officer-in-Charge Executive Director for Industry Development Services Ma. Corazon Dichosa encouraged the participants to nurture a culture of innovation. “The workshop aims to further boost the product development capacity of industry players, one of the focus areas identified in the Furniture Industry Roadmap alongside capacity-building, marketing and advocacy,” she said.

The workshop was part of the many strategic activities contained in the Furniture Industry Roadmap that the industry players themselves crafted and submitted to the BOI through its Industry Roadmapping Program.  In the roadmap, the industry aims to become the number one exporter for homestyle, furniture and furnishings in the Southeast Asian region, and eventually, become the global design hub for products using sustainable materials by 2030.

The industry is targeting the medium to high-end segment of the traditional markets such as North America, Europe, Middle East and Japan; Asia especially Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh, Bangkok and Singapore; and BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China).