According to the Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB), our timber industry plays a pivotal role in our country’s economic progress. To learn more about the wood industry and how it plays an important role in furniture design as well as the design industry, Creative Home recently met up with Dato’ Dr. Jalaluddin Harun, Director General of MTIB at the Furniture Promotion Centre in Kota Damansara to get his point of view on this topic.
What is the status of wood based industry with particular reference of value added products?
The Malaysian timber industry has contributed significantly towards the nation’s economic growth. Over the last two decades, the industry has made an impressive transition to one that focuses on exports of secondary and value added products covering mouldings, builders’ joinery and carpentry, and furniture. Currently, Malaysia is ranked 8th in the global furniture exporter. Malaysian furniture has also been exported to over to 160 countries and every year the market which are penetrated by the Malaysian furniture is increasing. Furniture export performance for the year 2016 from January to August amounted to RM4.84 billion compared to RM4.56 billion for the same period last year, an increase of RM6.2%.
Can you tell us about the action plan formulated by Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities?
The Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC) has formulated an action plan for a systematic long-term growth of the timber industry in Malaysia for the period 2009 – 2020. This blueprint has been drawn up under the National Timber Industry Policy (NATIP). NATIP focuses on seven main pillars include Industry Structure, Supply of raw materials, innovation and technology, marketing and promotion, human capital development, Investment Incentives and Bumiputera participation. Under NATIP, wood industry export revenue is expected to reach RM53 billion in 2020 to RM16 billion in furniture exports (30%).
What are some of the issues or challenges when it comes to developing and promoting our wood based industry especially in terms of furniture, moulding and joinery?
NATIP provides the broader framework for the development of timber sector against the backdrop of competition from lower cost producing countries and market demand for concurrent designs and high value added products. The Malaysian timber sector needs to transform into a high value-added industry utilising both imported and local raw materials. In addition, the timber sector is confronted with a number of structural issues such as labour shortage and skilled workforce to further strengthen its resilience in the years ahead. Notwithstanding this, there is a need for the timber industry to embark on measures to strengthen domestic capacity in design and production of technology intensive products.
In the case of furniture industry, there is a need to migrate to the platform of Original Design Manufacturing (ODM) with established brand names. The industry needs to embrace and strengthen design capabilities and capacities. Production and exports of more ODM furniture products will further contribute towards enhancing the growth of the furniture industry in the longer-term, as well as provide the necessary synergy to remain competitive in the global markets. It is becoming clear that no economy can succeed and sustain unless it has all the components of an innovation ecosystem. To thrive in the new global economy, Malaysia must rise to the challenge of creating a culture of increasing and continuous design and innovation. The faith and commitment in design, creativity and innovation as the tool to move forward will be one of the most crucial elements to ensure the growth and success of Malaysiaʼs furniture and timber based products industry.
We understand that MTIB is in the process of producing the National Design Roadmap for furniture and timber-based products. Can you share more about this Roadmap?
This Roadmap provides a focused framework towards further enhancing domestic design capabilities and production of newer timber-based products by using design and applying the strategy of design thinking. Implementation of the measures identified under this Roadmap will provide the basis to guide and synergise available resources to further develop the market potential for furniture and timber-based products.
This Roadmap compliments the thrusts outlined under NATIP. It is drafted in such a way that the current OEM model of the industry is still maintained and enhanced; but the move towards ODM is made at a small scale in the beginning. This is done with the hope of creating clusters of high-technology and high-design activities which will then be the pioneers to push the rest of the industry forward. The Roadmap covers the whole spectrum: from product design and development, materials research, innovation and human capacity development.
The future success of the timber industry depends on developing innovative products and processes, creating new markets and products. By the year 2020, the Roadmap envisages strong infusion of design and design thinking culture as a pivotal part of the timber industry. The initiatives under this Roadmap also complements the initiatives under the Government Economic Transformation Programme towards achieving the vision of high income nation by 2020.
Can you elaborate on MTIB’s role in organising the MOBILI Furniture Design Competition as well as TANGGAM?
Design is recognised as the best and most effective way to enhance the capabilities of Malaysian furniture manufacturers and intransforming this sector from Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) to Original Design Manufacturing (ODM). One of the pioneering activities involves the development of marketable designs by locally nurtured Young Designers, and exhibiting as well as promoting these products in major fairs such as the Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF) and the SaloneSatellite Showcase (SaloneSatellite), which has been acknowledged as the networking centre to merge the world’s most promising designers with exhibitors, world class furniture manufacturers and entrepreneurs participating in the i-Saloni. Pursuant to this objective, MTIB initiated the organization of the annual Malaysian MOBILI Furniture Design Competition (MOBILI) in May 2012. As a result of the first MOBILI, from a total of 11 finalists submitted by MTIB to COSMIT (organizer of SaloneSatellite and i-Saloni Milan) at the end of 2012, five talented Young Malaysian designers have been selected to participate and showcase their prototypes under MTIB’s TANGGAM booth during the 16th edition of SaloneSatellite, held from 9 to 14 April 2013.
MOBILI is an initiative launched by the Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB) to select, promote and market, outstanding designs, designers and furniture products at international level. We want to create a portfolio of new exciting designs that have an international market appeal and can be manufactured and marketed by Malaysian furniture manufacturers.
TANGGAM by MTIB efforts have effectively demonstrated the invigorating and outstanding innovations of new designs from Malaysia. With its main objective of promoting the image of Malaysian furniture and catalyzing the transition of this sector from Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to Original Design Manufacturer (ODM), and eventually Own Brand Manufacturing (OBM), MTIB was allocated a fund under the 10th Malaysia Plan (Rolling Plan), to undertake a programme to enhance the quality of Design (of the locally manufactured furniture). The programme is part of a comprehensive 5-year plan for design enhancement of Malaysian furniture.
Check out MTIB’s Furniture Promotion Centre in Kota Damansara. This centre will serve as a Design Incubation Centre (DIC) and a one-stop destination for furniture designers to provide their latest designs to customers. www.mtib.gov.my
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