Flexibility fires furniture firm's success

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 September, 2012, 11:01am

Cindy Kan points to three key factors - functionality, flexibility and quality of craftsmanship - to explain how Zense's made-to-order furniture has been able to attract so much interest in Hong Kong.

"That also lets us work with different types of customers," says the marketing manager. "They range from members of the public shopping for their own homes to interior designers who need something special custom-made for a top client."

At its own mainland factory, the company produces an extensive selection of sofas, beds, coffee tables, cabinets and wardrobes. The styles available are by no means limited to those on display at the store. Customers can use those for reference but adjust where necessary to suit individual needs in terms of size, proportion, wood and fabrics.

Some clients also come in with a photo, for example, of a TV cabinet they like. Something along the same lines can then be tailor-made to fit the layout and décor of their apartment.

"We are always ready to advise and will use our knowledge to discuss what is functional and doable," Kan says. "We don't just copy; we respect the work of other designers. Therefore, we can give clients pieces with a look similar to what they like, though they may want to change the legs or use a different wood."

In fact, encouraging good, original design is something the company takes very seriously. One of its initiatives is to create a platform for young designers by helping them produce prototypes and putting their work on show in the store.

"It is important to promote local design talent and give them a chance to show what they can do," Kan says. "We have our client base and work with some very well-known architects and designers, so we can help up-and-coming talent with the practical side of the learning process, such as how to build a brand."

A next step may be to hold an exhibition of young designers' best work to give them further exposure - and win new orders.