Hi, I would love some information on furniture manufacturers if anyone could help me.
Contemporary classic furniture has always been a passion and recently Iâ€™ve started designing furniture and I would like to get some manufactured, for personal purposes for now. I understand that you can send your designs for consideration to the big guys like Kartell, Edra etc. but there are two problems, the first being the fact that furniture design is a new thing for me so I have no training, no proper ideas about health and safety requirements etc. and the second being that these companies are typically only interested in already-functioning designers, with examples of work, previous commercial success etc.
Therefore, I would like to know of any companies (preferably in the UK, Europe would be fine, the rest of the world could work) who you can pay to manufacture just a couple of your designs. If these companies exist they do not seem to explicitly advertise themselves. I have searched the net, asked people etc. but have had no luck.
I obviously canâ€™t start somewhere junior in a furniture company and try and work my way up to a stage where theyâ€™ll make my designs, and besides this is more of a â€˜hobbyâ€™ at this stage, so I would just like someone else to make me some physical items.
I have great faith in my designs, especially considering some of the stuff which the furniture world churns out right at this moment, but what interest are designs on paper/computer to anyone? I need to find a manufacturer.
I don’t think you’ll find many manufacturers (or any at all) that explicitly produce one-off furniture pieces for designers. Not enough business in that, I’d guess.
What you may find, is that you can have your designs produced by a fabricator or cottage/small-scale manufacturer that specializes in whatever medium(s) you are desiging with. Don’t be afraid to take differing components to other businesses if your primary source doesn’t do so well in some mediums or processes. Also, don’t be afraid to look at strictly furniture or similar-industry outfits for manufacturing - many companies advertise to very specific niches when their services/processes are applicable to a wider audience. “Think outside the box” so to speak.
Thank you! I’m sure that the cottage industry route won’t be especially cheap, but I’m taking a rather bizarre route and it’s a good suggestion.
I bet - if I had the right contacts - it could be done somewhere in China for about $10 (given these services in China like getting your clothes custom made for about $10 a piece or there’s a town whose main industry is copying famous artwork very accurately or painting very cheap portraits for people who email their photos), but then again I’d rather stick to quality and craftsmanship rather than ultra-low prices.
Depending on your manufacturing techniques, you can get great quality from China or India. If what you are making can be completely spec’ed out for CNC, why not try a couple from China? Shipping it back will take a long time and require going through customs, but it can be done, and done well. You just need contacts.
Instead of looking for ‘manufacturers’ here, though, look for fabricators, prototypers and upholsterers.
I would ensure you have proper IP protection before sending anything to China (including Chinese patents).
Chinese IP law is extremely lenient, to say the least. There is nothing to stop a Chinese prototyper/manufactuer from patenting your product in China. Once they do that, they can effectively monopolize the manufacturing of that particular product. The way Chinese patent law is written is such that a patent bearer has the legal right to stop another enterprise from manufacturing a particular product in China.
If for whatever reason, you end your relationship with that factory, you cannot use a different factory in China to make that same product.
You may have a different experience, but in my experience we move stuff between factories pretty frequently. Never had a problem. Also never had a problem with factories ripping us off, it’s always fellow US-based importers doing it. But we’ve been working with most of our factories for around 20 years to when they were based in Taiwan, and that surely helps.
And in reponse to a couple posts back, if this is a product that can be made entirely on a CNC router, I wouldn’t bother sending it overseas. Labor cost is where Asia has the biggest advantage, and there is little labor involved in cutting something on a CNC- that’s one of the few areas where domestic manufacturers are still competitive. There is a lot of spare CNC capacity in the US, and shops that are very hungry for the work. It might be a little cheaper in China, but by the time you factor in shipping and the hassle factor, there’s not much difference left. It’s also hard (possible, but hard) to source decent panels (plywood, MDF, etc.) in Asia. Most of what’s available over there is utter crap.
Hello I am the president of Basit Design Furniture, a Colorado based company. I will be happy to talk to you more in detail if you are still looking. I do recommend you to check my web site and my line of work. If you are interested then once you see my work and approach we might have some interest in taking it from their on. Thanks
I tried to take a look on the site, but it says that the page cannot be reached. I would be interesting in your offers tooâ€¦ Just moved in a new apartment and I need furniture for all the rooms. If I would buy all the furniture from you, bkhanzada, would I have a discount?
Well, I will put in my two cents since I in the furniture industry, am in China and have been China for quite a long time…
For custom furniture - which is basically what you are asking for - we could probably help you, though yes, it would not be inexpensive. (and no, its not possible to have anything made in China for ten dollars anymore). Actually, its often just as much work to produce a single piece as it is to run off a whole production line of the same model. But we have done custom pieces ranging from upholstered items to leather to solid wood furniture for clients - usually as initial samples. Some things are more difficult then others like molded contemporary furnishings or veneer pieces… Shipping by the cubic meter is not cheap though not expensive either though often the cost of the shipping is the same as the cost of the item itself. Our sites in my signature…
I agree with the comment on Chinese IP though to be honest, I would not waste your time on it, since enforcement is practically impossible. If anything it would be easier to go after someone in your home country importing that item then to try to enforce it in China.
You can pop over to our blog at http://www.acf-china.com if you want to know more on this subject and look at the “Brits get rich in China” post… If that doesn’t give you an accurate picture of the reality of IP in China, then I don’t know what will…
This “long-term relationship” concept is one of those quaint little western concepts that us foreigners keep failing to realize simply just don’t translate over in this part of the world. In my experience the closer/more business you give to your Chinese supplier the more they tend to see you as a sucker to be taken advantage of. Playing suppliers off of each other here seems to be more effective and keeps them on their toes.
I’ve been designing furniture in Los Angeles for almost 20 years now, the first 12 years for one company, and then freelance for a while, but I’m returning to the first company. There are lots of workrooms here that will make items for prototypes, but you have to get to know them. You didn’t say what materials were being used in the furniture. If it is wood, then a prototype is very easy to make, especially here. If it is metal, then it will be a lot more expensive to make just one, but still possible. I’ve had a lot of furniture parts made by machine shops, but generally I get at least 25 of any one piece. The company I work for specializes in high end furniture, and much of what we make is made to order. The high-end furniture industry is huge in Los Angeles, partly because we have relatively inexpensive labor. I’m not sure exactly where you are located or what the industry is like in your area.
you might consider local fabricators rather than small batch manufacturing.
particularly for your personal purposes.
If your quantity is low, say less than 5-10 you should contact a woodworker, metalshop, upholsterer - whatever you need done and just pay them the peice price.
as you say, with no training or experience you have a uphill climb getting these onto a sales floor, (or getting you into a job). Small businessmen will be willing to spend time and talk over your designs with you to get something they can make easily - not something your likely to get from China.