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Asia"s largest wood processing plant put into operation

Asia"s largest medium-density fiberboard (MDF) wood processing plant officially became operational earlier today in the southern province of Binh Phuoc after two years of construction.

Binh Phuoc—Asia"s largest medium-density fiberboard (MDF) wood processing plant officially became operational earlier today in the southern province of Binh Phuoc after two years of construction.

Former State President Nguyen Minh Triet and many of Binh Duong"s high ranking officials attended the inaugural ceremony.

Covering an area of 38 hectares at Minh Hung III Industrial Zone, the plant has a production capacity of 1,000 cubic metres of MDF per day or 300,000 cubic metres per year, making it the largest facility of its kind in Asia.

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Furniture Fair offers home comforts

The Viet Nam Furniture and Home Furnishing Fair aiming to attract more domestic customers is being held in HCM City's Tan Binh Exhibition and Convention Centre from November 8-11.

Organised by the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association (HAWA) of HCM City, the fair features more than 300 booths displaying products from 84 local companies involved in wood processing, fine arts and interior decoration.

Products on display include indoor and outdoor furniture, curtains, fabrics, flooring materials, kitchen equipment, lights, picture frames, porcelain and pottery.

Le Van Khoa, deputy director of the HCM City Department of Industry and Trade, said that Viet Nam was a promising market for furniture and other wooden products because of its population of 90 million and rising income levels.

Viet Nam, with exports of about US$4 billion a year, has been the largest furniture exporter in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

However, its products remained unpopular at home, opening the door for an influx of imported products, Khoa said.

The lower volume of purchases of local wooden products was due to the lack of large distributors and the absence of ties between manufacturers and distributors, said Nguyen Chien Thang, HAWA chairman.

Locally made furniture only accounts for 20 per cent of the domestic market, while the remainder is from foreign markets, mainly from China.

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Forum looks at furniture design

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

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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.

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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.

Furniture expo to boost exports

A four-day furniture and handicrafts expo will begin in HCM City next Wednesday, which is expected to help producers increase their sales abroad.

"The annual expo will serve as a bridge to connect businesses in the furniture and handicrafts industry with international buyers," said Quach To Dung, deputy director of the HCM City Department of Industry and Trade at a press briefing on Thursday.

She said businesses at the even would have an opportunity to market products for export in Viet Nam, thus saving costs.

Around 200 companies have registered to set up 500 stalls.

On display will be indoor and outdoor furniture, interior decoration, materials and accessories as well as bamboo and rattan furniture and handicrafts.