By Kent Dahl
Major Chinese furniture retailer, John Chang, has opened a shop-in-shop in Suzhou with furniture sourced exclusively from the Danish furniture maker Carl Hansen & Son. This is a clear sign that the Chinese interest for Danish design furniture is also growing in smaller Chinese cities.
“Just around 10 years ago, not many people were aware of Danish design in China,” says sales director Allen Wei for Carl Hansen & Son, who is based in Shanghai. “The Chinese interest first started in the major costal cities, but now the trend is spreading inland to even smaller cities,” he adds.
The latest Chinese Carl Hansen & Son retail outlet is a 40 square meter shop-in-shop in a big furniture store in Suzhou. The furniture store is called ULiving and is located at the fashionable Times Square in the town.
Despite a relatively small population of around 4,5 million people, ULiving in Suzhou has attracted a long line of high-end European furniture brands. For instance, apart from Carl Hansen & Son, John Chang is also operating shop-in-shops for Danish brands like BoConcept, B&O Play and Georg Jensen in ULiving.
Suzhou’s closeness to Shanghai might have something to do with the interest in Danish furniture. It is about 100 kilometres northwest of China’s main business centre. Due to an early focus on attracting foreign investment, Suzhou’s urban population has grown 6.5 per cent a year since 2014. It is the highest grown rate among Chinese cities with around five million people. Interestingly, Suzhou is also a major hub for Danish companies represented in China.
So far, Carl Hansen & Son’s furniture is mainly displayed in general Chinese furniture outlets mixing furniture from various suppliers. However, the store in Suzhou is likely the start of a new trend with more stand-alone brand stores in general.
Allen Wei sees the developing Chinese interest in Danish design as a result of a growing Chinese middle class and more general knowledge about European lifestyle.
One source of inspiration is Tokyo, which receives a huge number of Chinese visitors yearly. Here Carl Hansen & Son’s furniture is displayed in various museums, restaurants and cafes as well as office buildings. The Danish company also runs its own flagship shop in the Japanese capital.
Read more about ULiving here.