A Look at Singapore’s Flourishing Furniture Industry

According to IE Singapore, the worldwide home furnishing industry is expected to reach S$855 billion (US$700 billion) by 2015. Singapore's furniture industry has expanded rapidly over the years, with home decoration and environmentally-friendly products gaining popularity among consumers. These consumers are also increasingly willing to fork out money for luxury furniture.

It is heartening to see that Singapore’s furniture industry has regained its growth momentum despite the global economic turmoil. The Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC) reported a total furniture trade amounting to an estimated S$6.01 billion for 2013, clocking a positive growth of 3.3 per cent from 2012. Looking ahead, industry players do expect this growth to reach a total trade value of S$6.34 billion by 2014, resulting in a cumulative growth of around 9 per cent in the period between 2012 and 2014.

Green Initiatives

In 2013, The Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC) and Singapore Environment Council (SEC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to further promote the awareness of environmental sustainability and encourage the adoption of green best practices among Singapore furniture companies. This marks SFIC's second MOU with a green council, after the first with Singapore Green Building Council (SGBC) in 2012.

This MOU is a three-year plan which will see SFIC and SEC as well as SGBC working together to improve furniture manufacturers' sustainability expertise through various programmes like training seminars and conferences, and also programmes to help companies attain certification marks which encourages manufacturers to adhere to international environmental best practices in their manufacturing process.

Said Mr Ernie Koh, President of SFIC, “Our Singapore furniture companies are already well-recognised in the global market for their high quality and professional business management. The MOUs will further enhance our standing and raise our competitiveness and reputation in the eco-friendly furniture market.”

Recognising Industry Talents

Much focus is also placed on recognising the talents and contributions of individuals and enterprises in the furniture industry. The Singapore Furniture Industry Awards, organised by SFIC and supported by the DesignSingapore Council, International Enterprise (IE) Singapore and SPRING Singapore, aims to raise the standards, profile and image of the furniture industry by promoting innovation, creativity and excellence.

Creating Global Networks

Come March 2015, The International Furniture Fair Singapore 2015, held in conjunction with the 32nd ASEAN Furniture Show (IFFS/AFS 2015) and co-locating with The Décor Show and Hospitality 360° will see its first ever European Union (EU) participation.

Mr Koh highlighted Singapore's feasibility as a viable location to explore business opportunities. In a press release on July 2014, he commented: “Due to Singapore’s infrastructure and strategic location as well as the proven track record of IFFS, it was naturally the preferred choice for the first EU Business Avenues programme in ASEAN. We are delighted that the EU has made the choice decision to leverage on the IFFS as the platform to showcase European Designs with the business objective to gain exposure and experience for their businesses in ASEAN. I am sure the plethora of shows can offer abundant networking and business opportunities for the delegates to explore the dynamism of the markets here.”

During the official opening of the International Furniture Fair Singapore/31st ASEAN Furniture Show, the Decor Show and Hospitality 360°, Mr Lim Hng Kiang, Minister of Trade and Industry acknowledged the need for internationalisation and export for growth, and how Singapore companies should look beyond the local landscape for opportunities to expand their businesses and boost productivity. “Emerging markets in China and Southeast Asia, as well as the developed markets of the United States and Europe, offer promising opportunities for our companies,” he elaborated.

Design – A Key Focus of the Furniture Industry

It goes without saying that appealing aesthetics are one of the most important aspects of furniture. Furniture companies in Singapore have garnered international accolades such as the Good Design Award and Red Dot Award, all of which have been featured in major international news outlets. According to IE Singapore, these companies also boast an excellent network of factories across Asia, thus facilitating hassle-free liaison with multiple parties, importation and onsite installation.

To fully leverage design as a key competitive advantage and driver for the growth of Singapore's furniture industry, SFIC, supported by SPRING Singapore, has implemented the Furniture Design DNA (Develop, Nuture and Accelerate) in a bid to raise design capabilities, nurture design talents and accelerate business growth. Spearheaded by SFIC's Design Development Division, Furniture DNA aims to help local furniture companies, designers and students grow to their full potential.

Other initiatives have also been introduced, for example, SingaPlural, a week-long event where international talents across the creative industries showcase their talents through installations, exclusively curated design spaces, symposiums, competitions and many other activities. These programmes are projects of SingaPlural:

  • The Furniture Design Award (FDA) provides a platform for designers to express their creativity and gain recognition in the furniture industry, and also maintain the dynamism and vibrancy of the regional furniture design trade.
  • The Furniture Design Platform (FDP) aims to be a springboard for up-and-coming designers in Singapore and the region to launch their new prototypes into the international marketplace, kick-start their design careers and attract potential manufacturers, and at the same time, create opportunities to exchange trendsetting ideas.
  • The Furniture Design Forum (FDF) encourages the cultural exchange of ideas, inspiration, and entrepreneurship among designers in Asia and around the world, and has seen globally renowned guest speakers like Claudio Colucci, David Carlson and Tim Power sharing insights from their years of expertise.

What Lies Ahead

Singapore’s furniture industry started as small family-run businesses and expanded gradually over the years to major companies with offices and manufacturing plants all over the world. With consistent efforts being made to help promising young designers and also the implementation of industry programmes to help local furniture companies seek exposure and reach their full potential both locally and overseas, Singapore's furniture industry is set to soar to even greater heights.


Information and images are courtesy of the Singapore Furniture Industries Council.

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