‘Furniture biz still alive’

DESIGN-DRIVEN CITY: Visitors check on the displayed products at the Cebu Design Week’s Trade Fair and Makers Market at the IC3 Pavilion over the weekend. Exporters showcased products like furniture, fashion accessories, woven clothes, and home decors, among others. (SUNSTAR FOTO / CARLO S. LORENCIANA)

CEBU exudes creativity in every corner, may it be in the architectural landmark of Mactan-Cebu International Airport, hablon textiles woven by hand in Argao or in furniture brands that have put Cebu on the map.

Furniture making, for one, has been a source of pride for Cebu, although the business now has not been as vibrant as it was before when economic conditions were a boon to the industry.

Jane Sayson, a designer at Cebu Homecraft, a furniture maker based in Mandaue City, believes the furniture business is still very much alive in Cebu.

“There is really still demand for our products,” she told SunStar Cebu in an interview at the Cebu Design Week (CDW) trade exhibit at IC3 Pavillion in Cebu City Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019.

Cebuano designers, furniture companies, accessory makers and creatives gathered over the weekend at the fair to raise awareness on Cebu’s image as a design-driven city.

Sayson shared the domestic market has greatly helped furniture companies in terms of demand.

“We are now catering to local customers, not just export,” the furniture designer said.

Cebu’s furniture products are sold to export buyers in Europe, Japan, the United States and United Arab Emirates.

But while Cebu’s furniture sector still sells most of its products to export markets, buyers back home are also catching up, thanks to the tourism boom.

Sayson cited the hospitality industry as one of the primary furniture buyers.

“We’ve talked to potential buyers,” she said of the prospects they’ve established at the CDW design fair.

Stephen Capadocia, sales executive at Coast Pacific, another furniture manufacturer based in Cebu, said they are also supplying to various hotels in the country.

“We are supplying furniture to hotels in Palawan, Boracay, Bohol and Manila,” she said when asked how the industry survived amid the economic challenges.

Cebu’s edge

Cebuano furniture makers are banking on their craftsmanship to withstand the influx of cheaper Chinese imports and the competition with other Asian countries.

Weaving and iron works are what differentiate Cebu-made furniture from those made by mass manufacturers.

The furniture manufacturing sector in Cebu started to boom in the ‘90s, becoming one of its sunshine industries at that time.

However, the business has since changed when the financial crises in 1997 and 2008 had crippled global demand. And the industry has struggled to regain its growth path.

But companies that have stood the test of time believe the business is here to stay, and they want to bring back Cebu’s spark in furniture design as much as they can.

CDW is part of Cebu City’s bid to become a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Creative City of Design.

The activity aims to create an avenue for the different industries in the Visayas to promote their products and services, build up their buyer and supplier database and learn about the market. (S)


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