The EUROPEAN SMART DESIGN FROM POLAND project aims at bringing together furniture industry entrepreneurs in order to promote POLAND in economic, historical, cultural and environmental terms at a showroom and through media activities at the High Point Market in North Carolina, USA in October 2020, April 2021 and October 2021.
High Point Market municipal exhibition and fair complex in North Carolina proudly carries over 100 years of furniture trade tradition in the United States. Each year it gathers professionals, designers, interior architects and traders from the east coast of the USA. Participation in the fair is a great business opportunity as the event is a must for those planning furniture sale in American retail chains. The United States is the world leader in furniture imports, boasting a market share of around 30%. Hence it is worth using this potential to introduce Polish furniture to representatives of the American interior design market responsible for the import sector.
The project is to reinforce Poland’s image among groups of professionals from the furniture and interior furnishings industries, as well as all interested individuals, as an attractive country in the field of furniture design and production, which has achieved global success while respecting the nature and drawing the best from the creativity of designers and centuries-old Polish craft traditions.
The Polish furniture industry is an example of a successful economic transformation based on the entrepreneurship and creativity of Poles, and forged by the diligence and determination of tens of thousands of companies and their employees. In 2018, Polish furniture generated a value of sold production of approximately PLN 50 billion, granting Poland the 6th place in the world in the manufacturers’ ranking. At the same time, 90% of Polish furniture was exported, ranking Poland as the 2nd in the world in terms of export value. About 180,000 people currently work in the furniture industry in over 26,000 companies. The success of the furniture industry is defined by the diligence, hospitality and solidarity of Poles towards their international partners, who for over 130 years have been buying Polish furniture, running their production plants and establishing partnerships in Poland. Many companies existing today have been operating since the 1880s. Finally, Poland owes its current position in the world to designers and architects awarded in national and international design competitions. Oskar Zięta, Maja Ganszyniec, Tomasz Rygalik, Robert Konieczny, Tomasz Kuchciński, Tomasz Augustyniak – these are only a few selected names of internationally recognized Polish designers. Our position is also credited to the pantheon of designers from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s – Wanda Telakowska, Bogusław and Czesława Kowalscy, Roman Modzelewski (the Vzór brand that produces furniture by his design will be responsible for the design of the Polish showroom at the High Point Market), and from the first half of the 20th century – Stanisław Wyspiański, Władysław Strzemiński and many others. It is also worth to mention the history of Polish design and icons such as the RM 58 armchair designed by Roman Modzelewski in 1958, who is currently experiencing a renaissance thanks to the young Polish brand Vzór, giving second life to legendary Polish projects.
Despite the undeniable successes of Polish furniture, its current image in the world concentrates on low price and high quality. Foreign recipients do not recognize the history of Polish furniture and its pedigree. Furthermore, Polish entrepreneurs, focused on maintaining international competitiveness, are not able to increase their efforts to build a strong Polish brand. Dialogue with the industry has clearly indicated that the key to building the image of a strong and recognizable brand is to organize national stands at the most important furniture fairs, but current promotional programs do not provide such an opportunity. Due to the fragmentation of Polish industry individual companies lack energy to successfully promote their brands. Poland can use its potential to build a strong and recognizable image of Polish furniture, which however requires integration of promotional activities of industry leaders and public institutions.
The project is organized by the Polish Chamber of Commerce of Furniture Manufacturers, which has a mission to integrate the furniture industry, participate in shaping its development and promote Polish furniture in the country and in the world. The project is co-financed by the Polish National Foundation. “We have a chance to use our potential to support the creation of a strong and recognizable brand of Polish furniture. Creating a consistent image of Poland and the most export-oriented sector of the Polish economy at international level requires strategic action of the highest quality as well as cooperation of institutions. Polish products are a Polish success that needs to promoted in the world” – said Marcin Zarzecki, president of the Polish National Foundation. “In our opinion, the implementation of the European Smart Design from Poland project provides tools for achieving our goal,” he added. Thanks to the financial support, the organizer is able to book an exhibition space, prepare showroom services and carry out a media campaign along with the preparation of a showroom promoting Polish design – “From December 2018, the Chamber worked with the Polish National Foundation to develop a strategy that will help support the image of the furniture industry. We managed to find a way to promote Poland and its cultural heritage and economic potential by combining the achievements of Polish designers and furniture manufacturers,” said Tomasz Wiktorski, co-author of the concept of the project – “Launching the project is a great success of the furniture industry and an opportunity to show that we can successfully enter new markets by joining forces and presenting a comprehensive offer of Polish furniture.”