THE next generation of furniture designers are eager to make a change in the industry by working closely with manufacturers, getting them to embrace new designs and learning how to solve problems together.
“We have to collaborate with manufacturers to solve problems in design and understand the potential needs of the market,” said Nathan Liow Heng Yee.
“Our roles go beyond just furniture design; it encompasses space planning, interior decoration, product design and brand building.”
Liow, who is based in Guangdong, said manufacturers in China were open to embracing new designs and mixing use of materials, compared to Malaysian manufacturers.
“This is where we as young designers play a role in influencing the manufacturers and figuring out how to present the Malaysian brand to the international market,” said Kaylynn Low Kah Ling.
“We have to be equipped with the technical knowledge and know how to communicate with manufacturers to broaden their horizons and approaches in furniture design.”
Liow and Low, both 26, were part of the Furniture Design Competition (FDC) in Action Designers Committee that also included Tengku Ahmad Danial Tengku Mustaffar, 26, Lim Bo Qiang, 28, Jasper Lee Jian Kang, 29, Yang Wen Wei, 21, and Victoria Pamela Yap Wei, 27.
Six of them spoke at the “Design Connects People – FDC in Action” seminar hosted by the Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF) in Kuala Lumpur, where they shared the experience they gained from a learning trip to four cities in southern China.
The programme included visits to the largest sourcing centre for furniture, lighting, furnishings and accessories, as well as networking opportunities with designers in China.
Tengku Ahmad Danial said working as a team with members from different fields made a difference to the visit.
“One person could be studying the intricacies and structures of a product; another could be evaluating how one product could be part of an entire collection; yet another could be analysing the product’s attraction value.
“It was a good opportunity for us to understand how big designs could be done as a team,” he said.
Lee added that furniture design should be a balance of function and aesthetics, and that designers should eventually have their own signature style or product.
The seminar served as a knowledge-sharing session on the latest living design trends and furniture industry in China, and served to set a clearer direction for the Malaysian furniture industry on design and presentation.
FDC in Action is a collaborative project by FDC designers and MIFF exhibitors.
The seven designers, comprising previous MIFF FDC winners and finalists, would be working with local manufacturers to present the highest standard of product design and product presentation under the lead of MIFF FDC chief judge Philip Yap.
“MIFF is taking the opportunity to continue our work with young designers, to open fresh opportunities for young talents to work with the Malaysian furniture industry,” said MIFF general manager Karen Goi.
“FDC in Action goes beyond just product design.
“It will take young designers through strategy planning, product positioning, styling, technical engineering, and marketing and promotions.”
Yap, who is also PYD Associates founder, said the designers were chosen from different disciplines as design was interrelated and influenced each other.
“We live in a seamless, borderless world where different fields influence each other, including science and technology,” he said.
“Furniture design is not so much about producing furniture, but about creating a lifestyle, a home or even a collection.”
Yap stressed that it was important to groom young talents to have sufficient knowledge, adaptation and creativity skills.
“The next step is for the young designers to work with local manufacturers to create innovative yet marketable furniture,” he said.
“The mission is to create a platform between factories and designers.
“The factories will provide the technical advice and support, while the designers contribute the design plan and strategy to create products with higher added value for international markets.”
The MIFF FDC 2018 competition is now open; entries must be submitted by Oct 30. For details, visit www.mifffdc.com