Mon, 25 Nov 2002

Certain buyers still prefer foreign brands

Sudibyo M. Wiradji Contributor Jakarta

The demand for imported furniture in the upper-income market segment remains high despite the sharp increase in prices.

Although sales are not as strong as before the economic crisis hit the country in 1997, imported furniture and interior design products are still easy to find in local furniture stores.

One of the top centers for imported furniture and interior design products is the Jakarta Design Center, where several furniture companies have showrooms. At the center, you can find sofas, dining tables, chairs, beds and cabinets. Each showroom features top brands like B&B, Carpel, Cavinna, Keilnauer, Extensis and FlexiStyle.

With imported furniture available here, you don't have to hunt for imported furniture in Singapore or Hong Kong as many people did in the past.

Before the financial crisis hit Indonesia in late 1997, sales of imported furniture were brisk. Foreign brands, particularly from Italy, had become the main choice for local buyers.

Besides individuals, orders also came from hotels, apartments and office building owners. The economic meltdown and the collapse of the rupiah changed buying trends. The collapse of the rupiah against the dollar caused an increase of about 300 percent in the price of foreign-made furniture. Although the sharp increase in prices caused many imported furniture lovers to return to locally made products, demand from corporate clients and the rich remained stable.

If you are looking for urban tropical ambiance, then the place to get imported interior design products is Temple Trees, located at Jl. Senopati No. 41C, Kebayoran Baru, 50 meters past Apotik Senopati, just before you turn left into the SCBD area. Here you will find high-quality colorful hand-woven fabrics, and matching cushion covers, bed linen and table linen; contemporary European glassware and an array of colorful bags for children and adults, clothing for both men and women and soft toys. The products available at Temple Tress have a very eclectic style.

However, you can also find several high-quality products made locally, designed and produced by foreigners and Indonesians. These products include an array of unusual glass lamps, metal and ceramic interior designer items, scented candles, various bags and bed and table linen, wood, terracotta and stone craft. Temple Trees, which serves as a gallery for Asian artists and photographers, also sells Serta mattresses.

The company's products are primarily targeted toward individuals, "but we have several products which may be used as corporate gifts", said Veronika of Temple Trees.

Temple Trees works almost exclusively with the designers and producers. "In general we do not cater to individual design requests, with the exception of bulk orders or sofas which use our fabrics. Sofas generally require two to three weeks production time," she said.

The company offers discounts to wholesale buyers on a discretionary basis. "We are extremely service oriented and we will make every effort to ensure that our customers are taken care of," Veronika said.

Temple Trees promotes a selected number of high quality designers and producers from Asia and Europe.

If you prefer a sofa set with a semi-classical style, then a visit to PT Malinda Furniture Gallery (MFG) can be the right move. The company provides imported furniture tailored to the needs of homes, such as sofa sets, dining tables and beds.

You can find here the latest model of FlexiSyle, made of wood polished in such a way so to look like metal. The showroom provides a computer link that enables customers to see what their sofa will look like based on their choice of fabric and color. There are 900 types of fabric and 300 choices of color. You can also find other products from Karpel and Babmakcie.

The price of imported furniture varies, depending on the size, product, brand and quality. One sofa at PT Decorama Mitra Selars, for instance, costs about Rp 63 million (US$7,000). A Cavinna brand bed sells for Rp 45 million (about $5,000). One of the sofa sets at PT Malinda Furniture Gallery costs some Rp 40 million. A dining table sells for between Rp 20 million and Rp 40 million.

But if you need furniture for your office then you can visit a showroom of PT Vinotindo Graha Sarana (VGS), a company that specializes in the sale of imported furniture for corporate offices.

The company's products are actually manufactured at local factories under license. They have to pass strict quality standards set by the brand owners.

The brand owners send teams here on a regular basis to monitor the quality of the products. A sofa at PT VGS is sold for between $200 and $4,000. A chair costs between $200 and $3,000.