WHILE the European market has not been been able to deliver for most Cebu furniture exporters, international furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue said the local market is doing very well.
He added that furniture exporters that are still operating today still exist because of the domestic market. He also said markets around Asia, the Middle East and South America have been doing well.
Cobonpue, who spoke to reporters on the sidelines of Sun Life Financial Philippines’ 120th anniversary launching Thursday, said a high demand for residential end-users and hotels has allowed furniture companies to survive last year. For his part, he limits the items he sells to hotels and commercial establishments, saying homeowners are reluctant to buy furniture that they have seen in such places.
Aside from the local market, he finds that the US is also more lucrative than Europe.
As expected, Cobonpue said the first quarter was not as dynamic. However, he is more optimistic for the coming quarter.
For local furniture companies to do better, Cobonpue cited the need to train more local designers. “Companies here are content being manufacturers,” he said. While he feels the government is doing what it can to support the local industry and training designers under the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (Citem), he believes the country did not train designers early enough.
Cebu is one of five locations identified by the government to host a design center. Other locations include Davao, Bacolod, Legazpi and Pampanga.
The centers will be established to institutionalize and promote design and culture.
The Department of Trade and Industry Cebu earlier said that establishing a design center will benefit small and medium enterprises in improving their competitiveness.
He believes the design center will help the industry, but raised the issue about how to fill up the faculty. He is currently the chief of the industrial design program of De La Salle-College of St. Benilde.