Earlier this year visitors to the 13th IMOB Istanbul Furniture Fair were able to see at first hand some of the specially manufactured furniture designed as part of the Handmade in Hatay project (ANMOGEP) a €7.3m initiative funded by the European Union.
Supported by the Antakya Chamber of Trade and Industry, the Handmade in Hatay project is a very significant project for the local furniture industry in terms of providing a common facility to provide support, training, and consultancy to producers of handmade furniture in the southern Turkish province of Hatay.
The facility will improve the efficiency and competitiveness of small- and medium-sized manufacturers of handmade wood furniture by introducing advanced technology and machinery to further enhance the historical and cultural richness of the province’s products. Crucially, the motifs and local handicraft techniques, which give Hatay furniture its unique character and heritage, will be retained as the industry moves forward to embrace modern technology. For example, more than 300 historical motifs reflecting Antakya’s history were re-crafted for the “Antakya Mobilyası” brand after two years of research resulting in 15 collections of traditional furniture made up of 63 separate pieces.
Importanatly, the facility will contribute not only to the region’s socio-economic development but also the national economy.
Exporting to 10 countries
Commenting on the facility, Hikmet Çinçin, Head of the Antakya Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “Thanks to the support we have received from this project, we are now exporting right across Iran, to Iraq, Azerbaijan, Russia, and all the Turkic Republics. Exporting our products to more than 10 countries has been an enormous boost in terms of the development of our region. ANMOGEP is providing a wide range of support to local people on issues such as production processes, production machinery, promotion and marketing, education and employment. It has also put Antakya centre stage in the handmade furniture business both in Turkey and worldwide.”
Branding is a must
Mr Çinçin went on to underline the importance of the project and the next step, saying: “There are more than 1,000 furniture producers in Antakya; however, our biggest obstacle has been branding. On a small scale, some of our SMEs produce handmade works of art, giving new life to wood. For example, Antakya leads the way in Turkey for the production of furniture accessories, such as nests of tables etc., most chain stores buy such products from our producers and our exports have grown substantially. However, the next step in the development of our local furniture businesses is effective and eye-catching branding, stressing and protecting the unique character of our products.”