SHANGHAI, CHINA My eyes darted across the huge exhibition site in Shanghai as I walked towards the hall where Swedish Wood had its stand at the annual furniture and interiors fair FMC. The edge of the site was dominated by a strikingly evocative building, the Chinese pavilion from Expo 2010, which now houses an art museum.
Economic development has paved the way for Chinese architecture and design to showcase impressive creativity and innovation. On our stand, we presented nine items/sets of furniture made of Swedish pine. These were designed and manufactured by major Chinese furniture companies. The furniture was the result of a strategic collaboration with the China National Furniture Association. The fantastic thing was that the whole process from us putting forward a proposal at the end of May to the furniture companies delivering their products took no more than around three months. The tough Chinese economy breeds companies, but only those that have sufficient competitiveness and entrepreneurial spirit survive.
Although growth in China may have slowed, its economic development has lifted several hundred million people out of poverty. This has created considerable demand for all kinds of raw materials and energy. China has, for example, become the world’s second largest importer of sawn timber. The Chinese authorities are well aware of what greater economic development means in terms of increased environmental impact. They have thus recently adopted a policy on green building materials, which is important in a country with the world’s largest construction market. Wood naturally has a special role to play and there is a clear desire to increase building in wood.
While I tried out the furniture designed and manufactured in China using Swedish wood, I pondered why Sweden, which is a significantly forested country that paints itself as environmentally responsible, didn’t establish a clear strategy to promote building in wood a long time ago.