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HKTDC Houseware Fair 2011 Fair Review
Earthy Edge

  Silicone household items prove perennially popular
  Silicone household items prove perennially
popular with astute buyers
 
Environmental designs, artistic styles and imaginative creations abounded at the HKTDC Hong Kong Houseware Fair 2011, Asia’s largest show of its kind that revealed the latest trends in the global household products industry.

Brimming with fresh and innovative products from more than 2,000 exhibitors, the event placed particular focus on eco-friendly items in response to growing demand worldwide.

Fair newcomer Business Operations Asia Ltd, a Hong Kong firm, introduced its stylish Bamboa brand featuring a range of houseware, floorings and fabrics all made out of bamboo.

“Bamboo is the fastest-growing plant on Earth and does not require the use of pesticides in its cultivation nor a huge amount of water,” explained company owner Julia Washbourne.

Bamboa’s new Biotech range of tableware is made from bamboo pulp with plant-based dyes, providing “super-strong” products in a variety of colours. “We’ve had a lot of interest in our products at this fair, mainly from Australia, the US and South America,” she said.

Another Hong Kong exhibitor taking steps to safeguard the planet was Planet Technology (Asia) Ltd, which offered beanbag chairs and oversized cushions filled with foam instead of the usual polystyrene. The latter takes approximately one hundred years to break down, whereas foam takes just eight years.

Merchandiser Philip Ong explained how Planet’s products are “greener” in other areas too. “We can vacuum-pack these items, which not only cuts shipping costs but also reduces the overall volume of goods, requiring fewer ships at sea. Our customers prefer more environmentally friendly products,” he maintained, noting that the company had received several orders from new customers during the fair.

Another local supplier, Tack Unitrade Corp Ltd, turned up the heat with a frying pan featuring solar-powered LED control. “The LED panel in the handle shows when the food is ready, and the solar panel does away with the need for batteries,” explained Director William Ho.

Under the brand name Elegant Home, the company offers a range of energy-saving products such as double-walled pots that reduce cooking time and keep food warm longer.

The fair was also graced by unusual styles that intrigued and amazed.

An example was the chic Multiple Choice range of tableware and trendsetting MC2 line of quirky products from local supplier Topchoice Industries Ltd.

“Our MC2 line is pure designer fantasy with a funky, trendy feel,” claimed PR and Marketing Manager Brenda Liang. “We have a strong design team that works with both brands and the packaging.”

Among the firm’s latest designs is a decorative silicone cup-holder that prevents scratching and slipping.

Silicone is also the material of choice for Silicone Zone Int’l Ltd, whose playful but functional egg cups with suction bases, the “Egg Chair Collection” by Italian designer Nicola Zanetti, grabbed buyers’ attention.

“We have our in-house design team but also use international designers,” explained Assistant Marketing Manager Janice Cheng.

Adding a touch of whimsy to highly practical items was Spainish exhibitor Casa Vigar SL with its kitchen washing-up brushes in the shape of animals and dolls. Other offerings included silicone baskets, hooks and cleaning utensils.

A dazzling array of indispensable items attracted thousands of buyers  
A dazzling array of indispensable items
attracted thousands of buyers
 
 
“We are in 42 countries, with major markets in the US and Europe,” explained Sales and Marketing Manager Cruz Jover. “We are always studying new designs and developing new materials.”

The Chinese mainland’s Longda Bone China Co Ltd, which claims to be one of the world’s largest bone china manufacturers, presented a vast array of elegant dishes. “We work with OEM and ODM and produce more than 20 new patterns every three months,” said Sales Executive Sunny Sun. “We have a large international and domestic market and have already established new buyers at the fair.”

A special fair highlight was the World of Pet Supplies, which hosted approximately 100 exhibitors catering to rapidly growing demand worldwide.

Among them was Justine Zee Kwok, owner of Hong Kong firm BK Atelier Ltd, who has designed a range of super-chic, vegan pet carriers that are lightweight, durable and very stylish.

“We launched the brand in 2009 and have a strong customer base in North America, Europe and South America,” she noted. “Our customers appreciate our eco-friendly fabrics and the fact that everything is designed with the pet’s comfort in mind,” she explained.

Under the brand name Crazy Paws, Taiwan firm GSA Innovations Co Ltd also had an earth-friendly best-seller — the recyclable polypropylene ECO Carrier in neon colours, which can be flat-packed.

“We are using our knowledge of the plastics and footwear industries as part of the Go Well Group and incorporating those design elements into our pet products,” explained Creative Director David Archer. Other items available included pet strollers, houses, feed mats and harnesses.

Running concurrently with the Houseware Fair was its spinoff, the HKTDC Hong Kong International Home Textiles Fair, where exhibitors such as Sharda Exports of India showed just how stylish recycling can be — about 50% of the company’s attractive rugs are made of re-used garments.

“After washing and treating, the garments are sorted by fabric and colour before being hand-stitched and backed with polyester,” explained Senior Merchandiser Ashish Sharma.

The rugs came in a multitude of colours and textures, some with themes such as a rug made entirely of leather labels from jeans. Other items included bathmats, cushions and sheep’s wool rugs.

Another interesting product came from Hong Kong company Sino Harmony Textile Co Ltd, which has developed a fleecy blanket produced from soybean protein that has a luxurious feel and natural antibiotic and UV blocking properties.

“Currently, we are the only manufacturers who can produce this fabric and we have seen a lot of interest in it,” claimed Marketing Manager Nancy Zhang.

The firm’s Sineel brand also featured wide range of fleecy blankets, TV blankets and robes.

Buyers clearly appreciated houseware and home textiles being offered under one roof, thus facilitating business.

“We are in the cosmetics business but expanded into home decoration retailing last year,” said buyer Renata Minami of Brazilian firm Sumire Cosmetics. “We have established contact with new suppliers at this fair through the great variety of exhibitors here,” she added.

Fellow buyer Natalie Mark Perissinott of VetShopAustralia Pty Ltd was sourcing lightweight pet products for the company’s online business. “I’ve found very interesting items here. The organisation of the fair is excellent. I’ll definitely be back,” she said.

Participants in the HKTDC Hong Kong Houseware Fair reaped a further bonus in the form industry insights offered at seminars on subjects ranging from safety directives and product performance testing to market trends in the EU and US and “green” manufacturing.

These included a presentation on the “Market Potential of Eco Houseware Products” by Martin Rayner, co-owner of innovative UK houseware retailer Lakeland. (Click here for a detailed report)

“Hong Kong is the heart of the houseware industry and the fair is featuring more design-led products each year. That’s why many American and European buyers like to come here,” he remarked.