LOCAL timber furniture companies will put concerns about the supply from the State’s timber industry aside when they join Australia’s finest furniture manufacturers in Perth at the FIAA Australian Furniture of the Year Awards 2003 this weekend.
The national competition, run through the Furnishings Industry Association of Australia, attracts entries from more than 1,000 companies around Australia, from which 50 finalists are chosen for the final round of awards.
Last year, local producer Jahroc won the ‘Best of the Best’ award, which included a year’s free entry into all the major furniture shows around the nation with all transport paid.
Jahroc joint founder Gary Bennet said receiving the award had an immediate impact on raising the business’s profile.
He said it was a credit to FIAA in WA for creating the event and for working to keep it in Perth.
FIAA Australian Furniture of the Year Awards chair-person Sandy Breeze said the event had been established to benchmark design, quality workmanship and to foster export opportunities.
Established a decade ago as a means to create revenue to support the industry in WA, the event has grown dramatically and, for the past seven years has involved businesses from other States.
“Design and the quality of the furniture has grown with the event,” Ms Breeze said.
Entries for this year’s event were notable for their sense of design aesthetic and contemporary style than past years, she said.
“There is a new sentiment of using the resource more carefully,” Ms Breeze told WA Business News.
She said that, although it was an uncertain time for many manufacturers who relied on timber as their main resource, the awards night offered a time of camaraderie and encouraged the industry to push ahead.
“It is a big industry and it is really suffering at the moment,” Ms Breeze said.
Furnishings Industry Association president Ian Hearn said it was important to remember the positives, and to consider that there was a healthy local furniture industry that did not rely on timber.
Companies such as Gascoigne Furniture – the largest manufacturer of Chesterfield leather lounges in the Southern Hemisphere and exports to 14 countries – and steel furniture manufacturer Burgtec Australasia Pty Ltd were examples of successful non-timber furniture companies established in WA, he said.
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