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Going global still a challenge for local interior design companies

Keshie Hernitaningtyas
Keshie Hernitaningtyas

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Tue, January 9, 2018 | 10:30 am
Going global still a challenge for local interior design companies

Visitors walk through interior design displays at Maison&Objet on Jan. 26, 2015 in Paris, France. (Shutterstock/File)

Expanding and marketing products abroad can pose quite a challenge for local companies in the lifestyle, decoration and design industries. Tough competition from countries like China and Vietnam and a lack of innovation are some of the factors contributing to the situation.

"Many Indonesian [companies] are struggling to carve new markets, as most companies and factories cannot compete with countries like Thailand, Vietnam or China," Indonesia-born product designer Alvin Tjitrowirjo told The Jakarta Post by email. "Most local companies are not innovative enough, which is also a big problem when marketing their products overseas."

Alvin, who participated in last September's biannual French trade fair for interior design, Maison&Objet, shared how it was a great experience to market his products in Europe. "It was our first time participating at Maison&Objet; we believe it was the best platform for us to be in. Being the only Indonesian brand in Hall 7, it was very beneficial for us to position our brand among other international brands," he said.

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Established in 1995, Maison&Objet gathers professionals in the lifestyle, interior and design industries in Paris, France. Held in January and September, each edition boasts the latest inspiration and insight into current and future trends, featuring some 3,000 brands and more than 85,000 visitors, of which 50 percent hail from outside the country.

Since exhibiting in such event can be quite expensive, Alvin said that government support would be invaluable. "Not just financially, but strategically – well curated and presented – to be represented at this event. So together we can create a louder voice in elevating our nation's brand image as well as generate business."

Alvin, who plans to visit the January event to browse the kinds of visitors and products on offer as a look into this year's trend, revealed that he would also join the Maison&Objet in September 2018 as an exhibitor for the second time.

"I'm looking for distributors and representative agents or retailers to represent and sell our products and brand in the international market and in Europe," he said, adding that he was currently developing new range of accessories to be showcased at the event.

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AlvinT's booth at the Maison&Objet exhibition in Paris, France, which was held from Sept. 8-12, 2017. It featured a joint collaboration with Sejauh Mata Memandang of Chitra Subijakto. The exhibition is the first time both designers represented Indonesia at the world’s authority of home decor fair that connects international interior design and the lifestyle community. AlvinT's booth at the Maison&Objet exhibition in Paris, France, which was held from Sept. 8-12, 2017. It featured a joint collaboration with Sejauh Mata Memandang of Chitra Subijakto. The exhibition is the first time both designers represented Indonesia at the world’s authority of home decor fair that connects international interior design and the lifestyle community. (AlvinT/File)

For Indonesian companies aspiring to exhibit at an overseas event like Maison&Objet, Alvin advised that it was very important to be focused. "You need to prepare from A to Z, like the design of the product should be eye-catching, the price should be spot on, the delivery time shouldn't be too long and the follow-up should be prompt."

Maison&Objet's January edition, which runs on Jan. 19-23, is set to feature "Showroom", a concept initiated by innovation and creativity agency NellyRodi that points out how a product no longer makes the consumer.

"The financial crisis and the digital revolution have had a tremendous impact on our behavior. Consumers who used to have a passive posture, buying products without questioning the brands that sell them, have found empowerment," NellyRodi's Vincent Grégoire said in a statement. "With the advent of Instagram particularly, consumers are becoming trendsetters themselves, full-fledged influencers. This is what we have called the 'showroomization' trend: it is no longer the product that makes the consumer, but the consumer that makes the product."

As for the impact of such a trend on the interior design market, Grégoire said that the old rules no longer applied, as story-telling was rendered obsolete by story-living. "Consumers no longer want to be told stories, they want to experience things. So living rooms and retail stores are turned into stages for the whole world to see."

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