Are you looking to purchase or import famous brand office furniture from China for your business or home office? Then this guide is for you. We understand identifying which brands are the best can be difficult, especially since China is the largest furniture export country globally. For this reason, we have compiled the following guide on Chinese office furniture brands to give you all the information you need.
History of Furniture Factory Development in China
In the 90s, some Hong Kong and Taiwan companies expanded to China, intending to establish furniture factories. However, these factories mainly served as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for large factories in Europe and the United States. The gradual localization of parts and accessories saw the rapid improvement of their supply chain.
In the process, OEM factory employees learned about popular European and American style furniture, mastered relevant technologies, and grasped the supply chain of furniture accessories. As a result, some struck out on their own and opened smaller furniture factories.
In 2004, China surpassed Italy to become the largest exporter of furniture. And it has since remained the world’s leading supplier of furniture. In 2018, the country exported furniture with an estimated value of $53.69 billion. The following year, China’s global online furniture sales were estimated to be over $68.6 billion.
How Are Famous Designs Being Copied
With famous brand office furniture costing an arm and a leg, major Chinese manufacturers saw a niche and exploited it. They began making copies of iconic office furniture brands from Europe and the United States. The likes of Herman Miller, Steelcase, Ergohuman, Bentley, Haworth, and Knoll.
They would either make some adjustments to the original or 100% replicas. Let’s take Herman Miller, for instance. Their popular Aeron office chair has a price tag of well over 1000 USD. But you can get a cheaper “knock-off” that costs four times less, such as the WorkPro Quantum 9000.
A quick look at these two office chairs and you will not immediately notice their differences, owing to their more conspicuous similarities. Said similarities include mesh seat and back upholstery fabric, adjustable armrests, and lumbar support. However, there’s a reason why Aeron costs as much as it does. While the original and knock-off may appear similar, their differences are outstanding.
For one, Herman Miller uses superior quality raw material to build Aeron’s frame and upholstery. The chair’s lumbar support is adjustable, while the Quantum 9000 offers fixed lumbar support. The latter comes in one size, while Herman Miller offers Aeron in three sizes, i.e., A, B, and C, to accommodate different body weights and heights. Moreover, the Aeron, unlike the Quantum 9000, has a tilt limiter that allows for an upright posture, mid-recline, and full recline.
Now, the smaller furniture companies initially operated on a domestic scale. They heavily relied on the Lecong wholesale furniture market and furniture exhibition (both of which we’ll discuss further in this guide) to attract customers. However, owing to the fierce competition from the larger companies, they began manufacturing cheap replicas of the original designs the big manufacturers produced.
So, where does the office furniture market, and the furniture market as a general, stand in China today? Let’s explore that in the following section.
The Present Situation of the Furniture Market in China
Today, China is one of the leading furniture producers, consumers, and exporters in the world. Production-wise, the Chinese furniture industry accounts for around 40% of the total global furniture production.
Top 5 China Furniture Factory Locations
- Pearl River Delta zone, particularly in Guangdong Province, especially in Foshan, Shunde, Dongguan, and Shenzhen cities
- Yangtze River Delta zone, including Shanghai Municipality and Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces
- Bohai Sea Surrounding Area, including Beijing and Tianjin municipalities and Shandong and Hebei provinces
- Northeast China Area, particularly Heilongjiang and Liaoning provinces
- West China Area, including Sichuan province and Chongqing municipality
Of these locations, the Pearl River Delta area is the largest furniture production center due to its abundant natural resources. The same goes for Beijing, China’s capital. Shanghai also has a large market thanks to being a global financial hub and China’s largest metropolitan city. It is arguably the biggest of all furniture markets in the Yangtze River Delta region.
When it comes to natural resources and infrastructure (e.g., facilities and equipment), China’s Central and Western regions are not rich. The furniture industry in these regions is still developing. It may, therefore, be a while before they start competing with the likes of the Pearl River Delta area, especially on the export to developed countries front.
China’s Domestic Furniture Market
The latest UN data has the estimated population of China to be over 1.4 billion. Thanks to this significantly large population and a higher increase in purchasing power due to a rise in disposable income, China currently has a very high demand for furniture. Locals are willing to spend more on furniture, which is, in turn, boosting the Chinese furniture industry.
Other factors contributing to China’s furniture industry booming are urbanization, robust GDP growth, economic stability, and increasing real estate development. However, this has also had negative repercussions, including forest scarcity hence the shortage of high-quality wood, causing it to become expensive. Among the ways furniture manufacturers are dealing with this is importing wood from other countries.
China’s Global Furniture Market
China is among the leading exporters of wooden furniture. It mainly exports its furniture to Europe, the United States, Japan, Hong Kong, and Vietnam. Nonetheless, some organizations in China import finished wooden furniture from countries like Germany and Italy.
Currently, China is the go-to-market for furniture, even for Westerners. Foreign designers outsource high-quality furniture and upholstery material from the country at a reasonable price. Shang Xia and Mary Ching are examples of Chinese companies that have overseas partners for the sole purpose of exporting their furniture.
Moreover, many furniture businesses import furniture from China and sell it under their brand name. The Chinese furniture manufacturers, having mastered Western-style manufacturing and designing, can produce high-quality furniture products at a significantly lesser cost. The quality of furniture and the affordable prices explain why Chinese furniture is increasingly becoming popular on the Western and global front.
The Popularity of Eco-friendly Furniture in China
In addition to deforestation, which has prompted the Chinese government to take tree planting initiatives, there’s also the question of environmental protection. The government, furniture manufacturers, and consumers all understand the importance of taking care of the environment.
Consumers are willing to pay more for furniture free from chemicals that can be harmful to the environment. And in 2015, the Chinese government passed the Environmental Protection Law. The new law saw many furniture factories close shop as their manufacturing methods were not per the environmental protection policies.
Increase in Office Furniture Production
If you are in the market for famous brand office furniture, China likely produces it. With the country being an economic hub and many international brands investing in China, demand for office furniture has increased. And due to deforestation, plastic and glass furniture is also growing in popularity in offices.
Speaking of office furniture, where can you find these famous brand models? Read on to find out.
How to Find Famous Brand Office Furniture in China
Finding office furniture in China doesn’t have to be difficult and frustrating. The key is knowing where to look. Here are some of the ways to find famous office furniture brands without breaking a sweat.
Attend Furniture Fairs
There are various furniture fairs you should consider attending in China. And now, owing to COVID-19, you can visit these fairs from the comfort of your home. They include:
China International Furniture Fair (CIFF)
CIFF takes place biannually during the Autumn and Spring seasons in China. The Spring edition, which takes place in Guangzhou, usually has two phases:
- Phase 1 (18-21 March 2021): focuses on home furniture, outdoor furniture, home decor, and home textiles
- Phase 2 (28-31 March 2021): focuses on office furniture
The autumn edition (3-6 September 2021) takes place in Shanghai, and its focus is the same as the first phase of the Spring edition, i.e., home furniture and outdoor furniture.
Shenzhen International Furniture Exhibition (SIFE)
The furniture fair exhibits different categories of high-quality furniture, including home and office furniture. The 2021 edition of Shenzhen International Furniture Exhibition took place from 17th to 21 March.
International Famous Furniture Fair (Dongguan)
The 45th International Famous Furniture Fair (Dongguan) was held from 16 to 20 March this year. Thousands of domestic and overseas exhibitors display their products, including office furniture and modern furniture.
The China International Furniture Expo (Furniture China)
The B2B trade fair will take place from 7 to 11 September in 2021. Of the over 100,000 visitors that attend, a large percentage are usually traders and designers. Here you can find famous brand office furniture on display and learn about the latest trends.
Visit Furniture Supplier Locations
Earlier in this guide, we mentioned the top five furniture manufacturing locations in China. These are Pearl River Delta, Yangtze River Delta, Bohai Sea Surrounding, Northeast China, and West China regions. Of the many locations furniture is produced in China, we recommend the Lecong furniture market in Guangdong province.
Lecong is home to some of the largest furniture shopping malls in China and the world. So if you’re looking for superior quality, affordable copy famous brand office furniture, this is the place to be. Below are some of the furniture centers you may want to visit for office furniture:
- Louvre International Furniture Exhibition Center
- Lecong International Exhibition Center
- Foshan International Furniture Expo Center
- Sunlink Furniture City(north section)
- Shunde Empire Furniture Wholesale Center
- Tuanyi International Furniture City
As you may not be familiar with the local furniture scene, shipping process, be fluent in Mandarin, and more, consider hiring the services of a sourcing agent. Typically, a sourcing agent will charge you 3% to 5% of the total value of your purchase for services, which include:
- Product sourcing
- Factory audit
- Order processing
- Inspection (quality control)
- Shipping arrangements
- After-sale services
Alibaba (China’s Amazon)
Don’t have the budget for a sourcing agent or to travel to China to visit the manufacturing locations in person? No worries. You can order your office furniture on Alibaba. Alibaba is a B2B Marketplace with thousands of furniture manufacturers, distributors, and traders.
It is best to source products directly from manufacturers. Why? They have a facility with equipment, materials, and workers to produce furniture products, meaning they can afford to sell to you at the lowest prices possible. Consequently, allowing you to maximize profit if you’re buying to sell.
To ensure a supplier is reliable and trustworthy, check to see if:
- They’re verified.
- Their business profile includes crucial details, such as the company’s establishment date and the executive officers’ names.
- The company exists by checking the company address on Google Maps. You can also look for photos of employees and factory workers and company signage, on say, the factory building, factory gate, and employees’ uniforms.
- They have a gold membership, which essentially means they have passed an onsite inspection conducted by a third party, and they can afford to pay the high Gold membership fees.
Keep in mind, getting duped online is easy. So you should always exercise caution. To help build trust between buyers and sellers on Alibaba, they offer services such as Trade Assurance. Trade Assurance coverage protects the buyer in the event of a delay in shipping date or a seller delivering a low-quality product. The assistance offered by Alibaba under this service includes getting your money back.
Finding replicas of famous brand office furniture in China can be a relatively easy task. With the insights we’ve provided in this guide, your furniture sourcing endeavors can be successful and stress-free. If you would like our help buying furniture in China, contact us today, and we’ll help you find quality office furniture for the best prices possible.