24 Oct 2008
Classy Comfort(HKTDC Houseware, Vol 01,2009)
From dashingly modern to elegantly retro, the wide range of furniture from Hong Kong ensures there's something for everyone
For shrewd buyers, there's no place like Hong Kong - home to a vast number of suppliers dedicated to creating quality furniture that caters to divergent tastes.
Trendy homemakers will certainly love the contemporary range from Fortune Furniture Co Ltd, which includes environmentally sound board-on-frame furniture made using "honeycomb" technology and finished with UV lacquer. "All the materials we use are eco-friendly, in compliance with Germany's E1 standards," says Marketing Strategist Ray Kwok.
One example is a sleek, floor-to-ceiling, flush wooden wardrobe 2.6 metres high with eight 600mm-wide doors. "Thanks to honeycomb technology, the wardrobe uses 50%-60% less wood than ordinary models of the same size, which helps save the environment. The lighter weight also means that the wardrobe panels will not warp and its hinges will not distort readily," Mr Kwok explains.
"A layer of high-gloss lacquer gives the wardrobe a shiny look, which is especially popular in Europe," he advises. "Compared with PU lacquer, which is harmful to humans, our UV lacquer is safe, harder and more scratch-resistant."
Another popular piece from Fortune Furniture is a classy chaise longue made of fire-retardant materials and stain-resistant fabric. "Liquids spilled on the chaise won't soak through the fabric into the upholstery," Mr Kwok advises. "While the standard model is a cream colour, we can make the chaise longue in any colour requested." Measuring 1 metre wide, 1.6 metres long and 750mm high, the chaise sells for US$270 FOB Shenzhen per piece.
"We specialise in European-style modern furniture -- mostly simple designs with clean lines, which are currently in vogue and appeal especially to the younger generation. Many of our products are created by Italian designers," Mr Kwok says, adding that the company's biggest market is Europe, which accounts for 60% of exports.
Complementing such contemporary styles are vintage pieces boasting fine craftsmanship and enduring designs, such as the handmade antique reproductions from China Land Interior Design & Contracting Co. One hot seller is a semi-circular side table (model CA-36) measuring 77x33x75cm with intricately painted floral motifs.
"This is a classic Western design, and we can make it in any colour desired by clients. It is hand-crafted and the floral patterns are also painted by hand," says Director Yung Sing Ho. "We have a team of skilled craftsmen who specialise in painting flowers, and another in effecting the antique look."
The latter is a "very complicated" process, he notes. "For some models, we use mud to achieve that effect. For models with crackles, we may stick fabric to the furniture and paint over it," Mr Yung advises, adding that the company uses wood from the Chinese mainland to make antique reproductions.
"One important consideration for us is to ensure that the furniture keeps its shape even if the ambient temperature changes drastically. For example, when it is transported to the US and Europe - where our antique reproductions are popular - it should be able to withstand the heat inside the container, which can reach 60°C during a one-and-a-half-month journey by sea," explains Mr Yung. "Hence, we put a lot of effort into strengthening and drying the wood before using it to make furniture."
Similarly, quality wood is used by Oriental Arts & Furniture in its lacquer pieces of fine design and craftsmanship, exemplified by an 18x16x28.5-inch wooden trunk (model BL-06-004-02) featuring Chinese-style landscapes on the sides.
"This trunk embodies a mix of Eastern and Western elements - the shape is European while the motifs are Chinese - in the chinoiserie style," says Marketing Executive Jo Hung.
"It is made of hardwood and veneer plywood, with a layer of protective lacquer. The item is mainly hand-crafted and the motifs are all hand-painted," he notes.
While the standard model is black, the company can make the trunk in any colour requested, Mr Hung advises. Its FOB Shenzhen unit price is US$100 for an order of 12 pieces, and US$80 for orders of more than 25 pieces.
The trunk also comes with a stand made of Appalachian Tulip Poplar imported from the US. "We use Appalachian Tulip Poplar for the frames of most of our furniture," Mr Hung advises.
Oriental Arts generates the designs for its products, and also custom-makes furniture. "Furniture is a very personal thing. All along, we have had a stable market for traditional models, although we have also made some contemporary designs," Mr Hung says.
Dining in style
Nonetheless, the feeling of grandeur in the home cannot be achieved without an elegant furniture ensemble, such as a set comprising a round rosewood dining table and 10 chairs from Yue Fung Furniture Co Ltd.
"This dining table set is a Western-style classic design. The tabletop and the pedestal base can be separated for easy transportation, and the lazy Susan is also detachable," says Project Supervisor Winnie Tsang.
"We import rosewood from a few places, such as Latin America, and the more expensive rosewood comes from Brazil and Myanmar," she says, pointing out the company is a specialist in rosewood and blackwood furniture.
"Our furniture is hand-crafted, although the more laborious production processes, such as the sawing of wood, are done by machine," Ms Tsang advises. "We have our own factories, so we're able to maintain high standards of quality control and thus the quality of our products."
Also offering attractive dining furniture is Actin Trading Ltd, whose best-sellers include a set (model ET96) that comprises a hardwood rectangular table, measuring 98x48 inches and standing 30 inches high, and eight chairs.
"The tabletop includes two removable 18-inch panels, which means its size can be adjusted easily," says Merchandiser John Tao. "The standard model is mahogany, but we can make the table in any colour requested," he stresses, adding the model sells for approximately US$2,000 per set FOB Shenzhen.
Quaint or trendy, such beautiful furniture from Hong Kong offers classy comfort for homemakers the world over.