Monday, February 28, 2011

Furniture Sector

Furniture SectorFurniture sector is one of the oldest sectors in the region, and has flourished during the last few years to become one of the major promising Palestinian industrial sectors. Prior to the political crisis and economic recession beginning in 2000, the sector witnessed the establishment of many firms as a result of the growth of the Palestinian economy and the development of this industry to include new categories like interior design, hospitality and commercial furnishings. In addition, advancements took place in design and manufacturing. More than 67% of local manufacturers are specialized in home furniture production, 21% are specialized producing office furniture, and almost 12% producing construction related components.

The industry has developed significantly to include 1100 establishments that utilize high manufacturing techniques and employ more than 10,000 labors, the estimated annual sales of manufacturers is estimated at US$ 110 million; where around 50% of that is destined to Israel for sale in the Israeli market or export to other markets, It is also worth to note that the sector has recently faced a dramatic recession due to the closure of Gaza trade terminals, while there has been some temporary growth in the West Bank.

Strengths of the furniture sector are mainly typified in high carpentry workmanship skills, good factory conditions, fine quality of produced furniture and the newly emerged Palestinian original designs. Opportunities for furniture sector are foreseen in development of new original and ethic designs, accessing target market with appropriate marketing tactics, upgrading utilized technologies and techniques to further increase competitiveness of products.
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Friday, February 25, 2011

House Tour: Pound Ridge, N.Y.

WHAT A four-bedroom, four-and-a-half bath house with 3,771 square feet and a detached two-car garage on 3.5 acres. ABOUT Open living spaces combined with charming nooks make this cedar-shingle house feel like a European farmhouse. The kitchen is in its own wing and features a floor-to-ceiling hearth with an antique mantel. Two banks of large windows offer, in one direction, views of stone walls, mature trees and the property’s pond; and in the opposite, the home’s interior stone courtyard. From the kitchen, across a brick landing, is a sprawling, informal living area with a dining area surrounded by windows.

At the heart of the house is the original parlor from 1769. Intimate in size and suitable as a library, it has a large fireplace and a Dutch door with the original hardware. The walls, coffered ceiling and stair banister leading to the second floor feature hand-hewn wooden planks and beams. Beyond the parlor, through pocket doors, is a sun-filled guest suite with courtyard access.

On the second floor are a laundry room, the master bedroom and two additional bedrooms. The master bedroom is defined by vaulted ceilings and architectural details like a round window. Its bathroom includes a claw-foot tub. Also on the property is what was once a small barn but is now the garage.

THE AREA The house is in Westchester County, about 50 miles from Midtown Manhattan. Village services are 3.5 miles away in Pound Ridge and 9 miles away in New Canaan, Conn. Trails, water access and other outdoor recreation are attractions at the 4,315-acre Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, about 10 minutes’ drive from the house. THE MARKET Properties in this area typically list for between $1.2 and $4 million.
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chance to win a new living room

Chance to win a new living roomImagine winning a living room makeover complete with furnishings, flooring, paint, accessories and labour. Thanks to Summerside Home Furniture and Callbeck's Home Hardware, that dream will come true for one lucky person.

The two city stores, in partnership with the Journal Pioneer and Ocean 100, have come up with the $10,000 Dream Living Room Makeover Contest. “I don't think there are too many people that couldn't use a $10,000 new living room makeover, myself included,” said Home Furniture manager David MacDonald.

He sees the contest as a way to cross-promote the stores. “What we are trying to do is become a one-stop shop for everything. You can basically build your whole home from foundation up with us.”There are several ways to enter the contest, which runs until April 9.

You can fill out a ballot at Callbeck's Home Hardware or Home Furniture while the Journal Pioneer and Ocean 100 are holding online contests where people can submit photos of their outdated living rooms for judging.

Twenty qualifiers from each of the contest partners will be selected to take part in an elimination draw on April 16 at 11 a.m. in the Hot Spot at Waterfront Mall. “When we get to the final 10 we are going to do a reverse draw,” explained MacDonald. “The last one in the pot is going to be the person that is going to win.”

There will also be prizes, yet to be determined, for the final 10 finalists. The winner will receive a three-piece leather Canadian-made furniture set valued at $4,000 from Home Furniture and select items such as coffee and end tables, rug, lamps and accessories for their new living room. At Callbeck's Home Hardware, the winner will select paint and laminate flooring to complete their new look, with help provided by the stores' interior designers.

“You don't have to do a thing,” said MacDonald. “We'll lay the floors and we're going to paint it and pull it all together.”Entries are already flooding in at both stores, he said. “The more times you get your name in, the better the chance that it is picked out,” he added. “We're hoping this could be an annual event.”
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Monday, February 21, 2011

Gallery Furniture fire trial set to start

The man accused of burning one of Houston's most recognizable retail icons — Mattress Mack's Gallery Furniture store — is expected to go to trial this week in a Harris County courtroom.

Robert Carroll Gillham, 68, wants to take the extraordinary step of serving as his own lawyer in the high-profile case. Gillham, a former Gallery employee, is expected to "vehemently" defend himself in the trial, his attorney said last week.

He is accused of setting ablaze a warehouse at the Houston institution, causing more than $20 million in damage nearly two years ago. "Yes, there was an arson," said Gillham's current court-appointed attorney Brett Podolsky. "The issue is the identity of the arsonist, and Mr. Gillham vehemently declares his innocence."

Gillham, a former salesman, quickly emerged as the No. 1 suspect in the four-alarm fire on May 21, 2009, that damaged Jim McIngvale's flagship store and adjacent warehouse in the 6000 block of the North Freeway near Parker.

McIngvale has earned fame locally with his colorful commercials and self-imposed moniker of Mattress Mack. McIngvale also made headlines when he gave 22 Houston firefighters flat-screen televisions and other gifts after the fire. The firefighters had to give the gifts back because state law prohibits public servants from receiving gifts. After he was arrested, Gillham's bail was set at $500,000 because he told a relative visiting him in jail that he was going to kill McIngvale, prosecutors said.

Gillham has remained behind bars since his arrest. Pretrial hearings, set for Tuesday, have been delayed because the defendant has been hospitalized for an unknown illness.

Assistant Harris County District Attorney Steve Baldassano said he expects the trial to last about a week, depending on how Gillham defends himself. "I've never had a pro se defendant, I don't think ever," the 20-year prosecutor said. "I wouldn't feel comfortable representing myself."

Gillham began working at the store in 1989 and was fired Feb. 7, 2007, for allegedly running a de facto loan sharking business for fellow employees down on their luck. Charges of slashing other employees' tires were filed then dismissed against Gillham.

Months later, Gillham was accused of threatening an employee at the store, and the company obtained a restraining order against him. Gillham then solicited two former co-workers to burn down the store for about $3,000, according to court documents. They refused.

Gillham told a girlfriend he would do it himself, authorities said. If convicted, he faces a sentence ranging from probation to life in prison. He is being tried on first-degree criminal mischief, not arson, Baldassano said.

Arson, if no one is injured, is generally a second-degree felony with a punishment capped at 20 years. Criminal mischief with damage of more than $200,000 is a first-degree with a maximum of life behind bars.
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Friday, February 18, 2011

Malaysian Furniture: Export Quality, Local Prices

Malaysia actually produces export-quality furniture at very low prices, but its people only spend an average of RM120 a year on furniture, says Datuk Dr Tan Chin Huat, Managing Director of the Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF).

Europeans, in contrast, spend an average of 400 euros while Americans on average spend some USD300 a year on furniture. "Furniture in Malaysia is very cheap. You can pay RM1,000 for a piece of furniture here, while the same piece can easily fetch RM1,600 in Taiwan and RM2,500 Hong Kong.

"However, many Malaysians still prefer to buy overseas products. That is why many local manufacturers are forced to export," he told Bernama in an interview on the upcoming MIFF next month.

Also present at the interview were Managing Director of MIECO Manufacturing Datuk Yong Seng Yeow and Jemaramas Jaya Sdn Bhd Chief Executive Officer Roland Law.


Tan says although Malaysia produces world-class furniture, a hefty 85 per cent of it are exported.

Statistics from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry show that the United States is the biggest importer of Malaysian-made furniture, with exports to the country totalling RM1,982.7 million between January and October last year. This is followed by Japan (RM573 million), Singapore (RM477 million) and the United Kingdom (RM407 million).

Malaysia's other top furniture export markets within the period are Australia, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, India, Saudi Arabia and Germany.

Tan acknowledges the number of western countries in its top 10 export market. However, he feels that the Asian market should also be explored.

"Traditionally Asian countries tend to export to the west. They rarely look at their Asian neighbours. Actually, there is great potential there.

"China has about 1.3 billion people, and India's population has also reached a billion. There are around 550 million people in the ASEAN region as well."

He therefore urged the industry to explore non-traditional markets as such, and to even go as far as Russia.

"I think there's a good market potential there," he says.

The Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA) last month revealed that it approved 42 industry projects last year that created employment for 5,163 people. The projects garnered RM218 million in local investments and RM241.2 foreign investments. Of this was an investment of RM443 million on the furniture industry alone.


Meanwhile, Yong says the local industry has been able to compete with the rest of the world because of the reliability, quality, competitive pricing of its products.

"We are known for it too," he says.

Malaysia currently ranks number nine in the world in furniture exports.

He says the industry has come a long way from the cottage industry it was 30 years ago. Today, the industry boasts world-class manufacturers.

Aside from the 2009 global financial crisis that has hit the industry hard, the furniture industry today also faces challenges that hardly existed a few decades ago. How does it deal with scarcity of good timber and rising prices of materials like steel?

Tan says it is indeed a problem, but one that is faced by the industry worldwide. He says it is a matter of how fast one can adapt to the changes.

"No doubt, solid wood is depleting. But there are alternative material that can be used, that are also environmentally-friendly."

Yong himself is in a business of recycling waste materials from the industry to produce eco-friendly alternatives like Mieco's wooden panel and chipboard.

"I would say I'm like a "scavenger". Whatever people throw away, I take. This includes raw material like off-cuts and branches, so you can say that my materials are 'green'.

"Today, we can produce a comfortable and sturdy chair using less timber than in the olden days. For example, we can make kitchen worktops using chipboard instead of solid wood. The quality is just as good."

He says the speed at which industry players can adapt to the changes of material, design and even in marketing, also plays an important part in keeping alive in the industry.


Going green is also part of keeping up with the changes.

"I would say more local furniture manufacturers are gearing towards that. The government also plays an important role as they have a certain control in stopping the felling of trees."

So does that mean the industry is going green because they have their backs up against the wall? Or is cost affecting their choice?

"It's not just that," says Tan. "The market also plays a part, as more and more people are now looking for environmentally-friendly products."

He says going green is not just about building with "green materials" but also choosing green packaging options.

"Nowadays if you want to export to countries like Japan, they wouldn't like you packaging your products with plastic sheets, because plastic is just so bad for the environment. So you have to ensure that even your packaging materials are green."

MIFF 2011

On about the upcoming MIFF 2011, Tan says it offer a great avenue for the Malaysian furniture industry to showcase their products at a nominal cost of RM550 per square metre.

"Compare this to international fairs where it is much costlier - the Dubai Furniture Fair demands USD750 per square metre, in Russia it's USD1,350 while in Europe you have to pay 700 euros per square metre".

In addition to that, he says, it also brings revenue for the exhibitors and the publicity it will receive will also add extra value to them.

He says MIFF is targeting more than the USD755 million it receives in export sales in last year's fair.

Some 15,000 visitors turned up at last year's fair with the most numbers of visitors from Malaysia, the Asean region, Europe and the Middle East.

This year's fair is the 17th and will be held at the Putra World Trade Centre from March 1 to 5 and the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

Tan says to date 450 exhibitors have confirmed their participation and free shuttle buses and coaches will be provided between the two venues for the convenience of visitors.
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Designers create furniture that eats mice for energy

Designers create furniture that eats mice for energyObjects around the house can be dangerous if we aren’t looking – but with these new creations, there could be a time when they become positively frightening. Among their creations are a wall clock and a light powered by trapping flies and a table that feeds on mice.

Auger and Loizeauhave been showing off their ‘carnivorous domestic entertainment robots’ at science exhibitions. The pair were inspired by a visit to the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, which has been developing robots that power themselves using microbial fuel cells. These extract electrical energy from refined foods such as sugar and unrefined foods such as insects and fruit as well as animals.

Mr Auger admits the robot furniture is provocative. ‘Some people are appalled by it but others are fascinated,’ he said. We play on something that is powerful in human nature, the idea of life and death.’

At the less bloodthirsty end of their work, the clock traps the insects on a belt covered in honey which acts as bait and glue. The insect-eating light and clock have been tested with live food but animal lovers will be happy to know that no mice have been harmed in the making of the table.
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Thursday, February 10, 2011

‘Blackbird’ extended at Living Room theater

The Living Room’s powerful production of David Harrower’s “Blackbird” will continue for one more weekend. The two-character play starring Scott Cordes and Vanessa Severo was to have closed last Monday, but ticket sales have been so brisk that three performances have been added: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday.

The play is a darkly comic and disturbing 90-minute one-act centering on a young woman and an older man discussing a sexual relationship they shared 15 years earlier. Bryan Moses directed the show. The Living Room is at 1818 McGee St. In other theater news, veteran actor, director and playwright Ric Averill has founded a professional theater company as part of the Lawrence Arts Center. The first production is Sarah Ruhl’s quirky comedy “Dead Man’s Cell Phone.

The show opened last weekend at the arts center, 940 New Hampshire, Lawrence. Additional performances are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The show will also be performed on Feb. 18 at the Fishtank Performance Studio at 17th and Wyandotte streets in the Crossroads Arts District.

Averill directs the show, which features Doogin Brown, Natalie Liccardello, Kitty Steffens, Diane Yvette and Jeanne Averill.
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Monday, February 7, 2011

Filipino furniture designer a Hollywood hit

His designs may be in Hollywood but his heart is at home: renowned Filipino furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue says he still gets his inspiration from the sun-baked shores of Cebu. The multi-award-winner is regarded by international design magazines as one of the poster boys of Asia's chic furniture design industry and his unique works have penetrated the luxury market around the world.

They can be found on movie sets, in the home of US movie star Brad Pitt - who bought a Cobonpue bed - and in leading hotels, establishments and resorts in Paris, London and the Caribbean. Yet for all his success, the 40-year-old father-of-two remains firmly grounded to his roots.

He says his creative ideas come from nature and locally-sourced materials in Cebu, an island province in the central Philippines, famous for its colourful festivals and sweet mangos.

"In the beginning, I always looked at nature for reference - the transparency, fluidity. These are characteristics of nature that I want to capture in the objects I design," Cobonpue told AFP at his factory in Cebu City, which is also the country's booming furniture industry capital.

"But actually, inspiration comes from everywhere. There is beauty in everything we see, if only we can take a second look."

Although Cobonpue credits his natural talent to his mother, Betty, who is a famous local designer, he sharpened his skills at New York's Pratt Institute where he studied Industrial Design in the late 1980s.

He was also apprenticed at leather workshops in Italy and in Germany until 1994, before heading to the United States in the hope of landing a job with one of the big design houses there.

However he was forced to return to the Philippines in 1996 when he could not find a spot in the tough US market.

"There was no work to be found. Even Harvard graduates were driving taxi cabs at the time," he said.

"We had a furniture factory back home, so I took over."

Once back in Cebu, Cobonpue experimented with different designs using humble rattan as the raw material. He used the skin of the vine for binding and as a weaving material, with its core forming the wooden structure.

Manufacturing under his own name, Cobonpue's meticulously hand crafted, modern designs slowly gained fame beyond Cebu and replaced the 1980s-era catalogue of his mother.

Each design portrayed a certain kind of character, or had a hidden story behind it.

The first major breakthrough was a collection called Yin and Yang - with beds and chairs made from rattan splits over a frame of steel and wicker that combined form and function using round and square shapes.

Another critically acclaimed set was the Lolah collection, which used traditional Filipino boat building techniques in bending rattan to showcase its flexibility and create sensuous frames.

Accolades followed, including the top prize for a lounge chair at the Maison et Objet exhibition in France in 2009 as well as awards from the Hong Kong Design Centre and the Singapore International Furniture Design competitions.

Several of the designs were also picked for three editions of the authoritative International Design Yearbook, underscoring Cobonpue's status as a furniture virtuoso.

But perhaps what signalled Cobonpue's entry into the big league was the 2001 launch of his Voyage collection, cocoon shaped beds that were reminiscent of ancient reed boats.

"They aim to take the sleeper into an imaginative journey into dreamland," Cobonpue said.

The bed became famous when Pitt, an avid art collector, bought one from a showroom that represented Cobonpue designs in Los Angeles.

Orders then flooded in from Hollywood, and Cobonpue sets were used in movies, including the Ocean's 11 franchise starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Pitt, among others.

They are also familiar sights in the hit American television series, CSI.

"You know at first, I didn't know what to make of it. The attention we got after that was incredible," the soft-spoken Cobonpue said.

"I feel that as an artist, your work should validate itself, not because of some celebrity buying your work.

"The best compliments are from the ordinary people who save up on their hard earned money to buy just one chair. Or from the gasoline attendant who tells me he saw me on television and says he felt proud to be Filipino."

With his reputation at its highest, the patriotic Cobonpue is now busy building a legacy he wants to leave to young Filipino designers.

He teaches at the local university and picks promising students to work at his shop - one of them has already won an international award for a ceiling lamp made from recyclable materials.

He has also long given up his US green card and is in the early stages of planning his own design academy to impart his art to more Filipinos.

"With all our talent, our country should have a thriving design scene. I don't see that yet," he said.

"We have the potential, but it starts with design education and industry."

In the next five years, Cobonpue said, he wanted to expand to include designing clothes, while toying with some even more radical ideas.

"Right now, I am also designing a concept car made from bamboo as a personal project. Let's see where that takes us," he said.
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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Classic colors: Blue-and-white furniture always trendy

Classic colors: Blue-and-white furniture always trendyPractically the definition of "classic," the blue-and-white color scheme never really goes out of style. The spotlight just drifts from time to time while other more trendy looks get attention. It's center stage again, and as vivid and crisp as ever.

Designer Barclay Butera used the color combo all over his main showroom during the International Home Furnishings Market in High Point last fall. Like a cool breeze, the pieces will be in showrooms just in time to freshen your home for summer. His Barclay Butera Home and Barclay Butera Lifestyle collections feature fabrics he designed for Kravet, such as a bold cobalt-and-white stripe on the sofa and the oversized check pattern on the chaise.

"Quintessential blue and white is my all-time go-to for a fresh, crisp, clean interior. This color palette is so versatile that I can use it in any project. Of course, beach is a classic, but it also translates beautifully in a rugged mountain environment or a serene desert retreat," Butera said.

To add to the symmetry, he created a paint line with Benjamin Moore that coordinates with his Kravet fabrics. The paints will also be available this spring.

Somerset Bay, which uses the tag line "The Colors of a Life Well-Lived," featured several blue-and-white pieces. The Pamplico half-round cabinet was painted vanilla bean with a deep blueberry interior visible through the curved glass door. The same color combo was used on the Topsail Decorated Chest. Featuring a japanning finishing technique, the bow-front is illustrated with hand-painted scenes in blue against a vanilla background. It's a look reminiscent of Worcester blue-and-white porcelain from mid-1700s England or the ever-popular blue-and-white Delftware from the Netherlands dating back to the 16th century.

But this pairing goes back even further, to the Middle East and China. Ming Dynasty blue-and-white porcelain is a coveted collector's item, as is the blue-and-white pottery made for export from China.

Century Furniture tapped into that Far East motif by upholstering the Pagoda Pizzazz love seat in blue pagodas against an antique white. The back is shaped to echo the silhouette of the pagoda. Century also showed a deep-indigo velvet to cover its button-tufted, rolled-arm two-cushion sofa for the Signature Collection.

Palecek was showing a lot of blue and white on wicker and rattan sofas, chairs and pillows as well as decorative accessories. The pillows, which can be used inside or out, sport sea-horse, crab or sea-turtle motifs in white against a navy background with white piping.

Miles Talbott and the Joe Ruggiero "House of Blues" fabric collection for Sunbrella was all about the darkest blue and the brightest white. Ruggiero explained that his travels influence his design and color ideas.

"We have been working on this coloration and this year hit the right formula," he said. So look for those classic navy, indigo and cobalt blues to be popping against all shades of white this season.
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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Striking Reupholstered Armchair with Colourful Good Luck Charms

Striking Reupholstered Armchair with Colourful Good Luck CharmsThe London based design studio 20age rekindled this old chair’s flame. A vintage armchair stands at the base of this colourful reconstruction, proving once again that fresh design can reconstruct almost anything. We can consider this chair to be very lucky: once because it was saved with the help of a beautiful fabric and second because the strings that make up the back side of the armchair are considered to be lucky charms in Brazil.

The strings are supposed to be tied to the wrist with three knots for good luck and for each knot, you should make a wish. Found on Design Milk, the lovely armchair, named Bahia Chair, is reupholstered in yellow velvet cord and yellow and green checked cotton and has 5,000 Brazilian ribbons attached to the back side. We can clearly see the Brazilian and English heritage of the designers, Emma Phelps and Mauricio Varlotta.
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