One-third of the world’s socks, 80% of the world’s mid-to-high-end violins, nearly half of the microwave oven turntables in the global market, and one-third of China’s electric guitars… You may be unable to imagine that the above production records are actually created by some little Chinese towns.
How can the small towns have such great potential? Verifyfull planned a series of blogs to answer the question. Today, we will introduce you to the town of classical furniture— Tianyuan Town, Zhejiang Province.
The Classical furniture town Tianyuan is located in Zhouxiang Town, Zhejiang Province, China. Through the acquisition and renovation of classical furniture, this small town which started in the 1980s and 1990s, gradually became China’s largest distributing center for classical furniture after half a century. The town now has more than 40 processing companies with more than 5,000 employees. It has gathered skilled craftsmen from all over the country and formed a modern furniture industry chain integrating restoration, research and development, design, production and sales. More than 10 containers are shipped to other countries every day.
Industrial transformation and upgrading
Zhang Xu, 37 years old, is a businessman in Tianyuan town. In 2008, when the financial crisis broke out, the assets of many international buyers had shrunk, and the demand for high-priced Chinese classical furniture was also diminishing. The well-known classical furniture town began to decline gradually, and business was in a state of failure. The weak international market was certainly one of the reasons, but furniture vendors like Zhang Xu also realized that similar designs, backward techniques, and single materials were also restricting the development of the town. Transformation and upgrading were imminent.
Zhang Xu: At that time, the demand was smaller, and the relationship between supply and demand was different. Also, when solid woods were sent abroad, they would expand or contract due to the temperature changes in transportation processes.
Reporter: So you had to reproduce some suitable materials.
Zhang Xu: Yes.
How to make the classical furniture industry glow with a new style? Furniture dealers in the small town gradually built a modern furniture industry chain integrating restoration, research and development, design, production and sales. Several leading companies were born from it. This town has become the largest distribution center for classical furniture in China.
Strengthen innovation and expand exports
Zhao Ji ran a furniture store with his father and founded his own brand in this town. He used to study abroad. Although he took over the classical furniture business from his father, the new furniture brand he created is no longer traditional classical furniture, but a collision between modernity and tradition, Chinese culture and Western culture.
Zhao Ji said: “We develop our own design styles and update 300 styles every year. Foreigners choose their favorite styles and place orders, instead of them giving us drawings and we OEM. This is old elmwood with iron art. We are mainly good at mixing. The old elm wood has a very natural texture and is more environmentally friendly. It comes from an old door panel, which is usually used in the north of China.”
The same furniture, but no longer the original feeling. On the basis of the original craftsmanship, there is a new concept of design in it, highlighting environmental protection, and taking the European and American fashion furniture route. More importantly, the design and selection of materials are completed in accordance with the needs of different customers around the world, so as to increase the added value of products and differentiate them. Zhao Ji said: “We also want to do cross-border e-commerce 2C, such as this kind of side cabinet, basically sells about 2,000 US dollars on Amazon. ”
At present, the annual export value of Zhao Ji’s furniture brand can reach 15 million US dollars, and domestic sales through online sales can reach 20 to 30 million US dollars.
Different from the mixing style, another furniture factory director Zhao Jianding still adheres to the production of traditional classical furniture, but he has begun to make breakthroughs in the overall process and design concepts. For example, the shape of traditional classical furniture is kept, but it also combines the aesthetic needs of contemporary people. Chen Chungeng summed it up with the phrase “turning the complexity into simplicity”. He said: “Many things are subverting the tradition. Things like bookcases are very concise. They are made according to the current aesthetic concept and cater to the needs of young people. ”
But no matter what style it is, in Zhao Jianding’s view, from material selection to designing, to hand-carving, there is no shortage of procedures. Only when the traditional handcraft skills are used to the extreme, can the products truly gain a foothold in the markets. He said: “Anyway, whether to make one or two pieces of furniture, it will take at least 50 days or more, and even a chair will take at least 40 or 50 days. In my view, quality is high on the agenda.”