Helping Indian homes look better

New trade

Helping Indian homes look better

Many Indian homes are now personalised with furniture and interiors from China, as the two countries have found a way to help each other, writes Natasha Menezes.

The interiors and furniture industry has witnessed a compounding growth recently, and today’s market is no more purely reliant on manufacturing. It also deals with trading of finished products between cities as well as between countries. As countries increasingly  depend on several other economies for their sustenance, we look at one close partnership meandering in this path — between India and China.

They have similar markets and industries and face similar population and corruption issues. But the one thing that China has stepped up to in its race with other countries is the challenge to be regarded as the most preferred global manufacturer of sorts. So when it comes to home furnishings and interiors, don’t be surprised to know that the latest trends in the market these days is being sourced from none other than this eclectic Indian neighbour – China.

Quality improved

The first two things that come to mind when you think of China are probably low cost and inferior quality. But it is heartening to note that China is now shaping up on the major fronts of cost in interiors while also keeping a tight check on its quality. Chinese are seen making rapid improvements in quality versus price so that their finished product is more marketable.

In keeping up with the forecasts in the interiors segment, yet looking at ways and means to cut costs for their customers, designers are seen packing up their suitcases to make that long trip to China.

Expert interior designers Poonaam Amla and daughter Parul Amla of Antrik Design Studio, who have been on several business trips to China, share some of their skilled advice and memoirs of this latest interior trend.

“The latest trend in interiors, furniture, lifestyle and accessories these days is modern, basic, well-finished, minimalistic and monochromatic. As are straight lines, animal prints, stripes, checks and leather. Furniture design off late is seeing a mix of culture, nature and ergonomics. Colour, shape, silhouette and size are important for personalised pieces. For example, faux horse skin and faux cow skin are being widely used for rugs and carpets, as more people are becoming environment conscious,” notes Poonaam Amla.

The source for these latest trends comes from our neighbouring China, which is the next best option to pricey Dubai, Milan or Cologne. China has seen favour amongst Indians due to several reasons; its close proximity to India, sizeable labourer population, fair price, good finish and quality. There is also no import duty here.

Ghanzhou is the main trading hub for furniture. The Pearl River Delta area has the highest concentration of the furniture industry with the highest production output and best support network. The regions of Fujian, Zhejiang, Shandong and Shanghai are the next closest contenders.

The breadth and depth of China’s craftsmanship varies; from fabrics to frames, cushions to beds, you name it, you’ll find it here. They leave no stone unturned in this burgeoning marketplace.

In retrospect to quality, China is just like any other country, where the prices vary from inexpensive to moderate to über expensive. Depending on how deep your pocket is, you can be sure to find something that will suit your fancy.

While you might be lucky to find similar alternatives in India, the cost of doing up your entire home, i e doors, kitchen, wallpaper, furniture, sanitary ware, tiling and so on, will be as much or more than double that of an entire container load of goods shipped from China.

Reasonable pricing

The price difference between the two countries for renovating an entire house holds not even any ground for comparison! Usually it is the upper middle to high income groups of people who spend on home renovations in a lavish way. So doing up an entire household for this segment will be at least 50% cheaper, inclusive of international return flights to India, accommodation in China, as well as shipment back to India.

It typically takes about a week to 10 days to complete your sourcing of ready-to-ship furniture from China as everything is found in one place. Whereas in India it takes at least four to six months to complete sourcing of goods as you will not find everything in one city. The best buys in China are leather goods, steel and glass.

Even the language barrier in China is no longer an obstacle in its race for supremacy. You will find plenty a trading and sourcing companies in China that will help you with your entire shipment. They will also provide you with translators, if needed.

“As in India, bargaining is commonplace there. China is more mass production oriented. So the more you buy, the cheaper it will be. Be sure to cut the asking price in half before purchasing,” Parul Amla warns.

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