HCM CITY (VNS) — A project to develop a design centre to boost the local wooden furniture and handicraft design industry is underway, according to the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of HCM City (Hawa).
Speaking at the seminar in HCM City yesterday, Hawa chairman Nguyen Quoc Khanh said the domestic furniture design industry for wooden furniture and handicrafts remained underdeveloped compared to other regional countries like Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines.
Khanh said design plays an important role in a product. Nowadays, when buying a product, consumers not only look at functionality but the design of the product, its aesthetics and what differentiates it from others in the market.
Viet Nam has become a destination for many foreign wooden furniture and handicraft buyers. However, most of Viet Nam's exported wooden furniture and handicrafts are produced using foreign designs.
"The country earned US$5.56 billion from the export of wooden furniture and handicrafts last year. Of which, exports of products designed by Vietnamese firms accounted for less than $10 million," he said.
Creating designs adds value, he said, adding that a strategy for adding perceived value through design should be made.
Once established, the Hawa Design Centre will be "a place to organise competitions to seek out design talent for the furniture and handicraft industry," Khanh said.
In addition, it will be a place in which they can exhibit and promote new designs and new products, as well as a centre to train and develop design talent, he said.
A library to keep technical books and manuals for the carpentry industry will be also included in the centre.
Graham Taylor, a furniture designer who has worked for more than 20 years in Viet Nam, said Vietnamese companies have had difficulties finding local furniture designers because local education does not pay much attention to design training.
A representative from Van Lang University said there's not a single school that offers training in furniture design.
The wooden furniture market is very large, so it makes sense for the country develop a training programme that feeds talent into the furniture design industry, he said.
Micheal Buskley, a wood specialist from UK, said "creativity is one of the greatest challenges for any designer.
"Design follows trends, so we need to understand what the trends are. This is particularly true in the furniture industry, which is a fashion business."
In designing furniture, we also have to deal with functionality, we are not designing pure artifacts or non-functional objects. Before making a design, the designer must understand which are the right wood materials for that particular piece and what the characteristics of that wood are. This is a skill that needs to be learned, he said.
The seminar on solutions to build and develop a domestic furniture design industry in Viet Nam was organised by Hawa as part of the seventh Viet Nam International Furniture and Home Accessories Fair.
More than 150 delegates, including local and international architects, designers, wooden processing companies and students from design schools participated in the seminar. — VNS