Australian Made vs Imported Furniture: A Thorough Comparison

The furniture we choose to adorn our homes with is much more than merely functional; it is a reflection of our style, our values, and often, the ethos we live by. As consumers, we are no longer content with just any piece of furniture; we seek out quality, sustainability, and a sense of community. In this context, the Australian Made versus imported furniture debate gains significance, for it is not just a matter of aesthetics but also one of quality, supporting local labor, the charm of handcrafted versus machine-made, and ultimately, the longevity of each piece.

Recent industry news has highlighted a regrettable but undeniable trend: manufacturing has been on a decline in Australia. This shift, fuelled by cheaper imports, especially the import furniture from China, has left many furniture manufacturers grappling with a change in the Australian market. As someone who values the craftsmanship and commitment found in locally produced goods, I propose that there are myriad reasons we should buy Australian and continually strive to keep local manufacturing alive.

Quality and Longevity - An Investment Worth Making

The quality of Australian-made timber furniture is often unparalleled. If you’ve ever run your hands over a solid timber piece of furniture crafted by a local Melbourne artisan, you'll understand the distinction. The made timber furniture here is not only about practicality but also about artistry, the story behind every grain and notch. This contrasts with imported furniture products, which, unfortunately, might prioritise mass production over meticulous quality, resulting in a life span that pales in comparison to that of locally sourced items.

Supporting Local Labour: A Commitment to Community

Choosing to buy Australian-made furniture is a powerful statement in support of local industry. It’s more than just a transaction; it’s an investment in the local economy, enabling artisans to keep their passions alive and communities to thrive. Furthermore, running a business in Australia means adhering to stringent labor laws and ensuring employees are treated fairly, which may not always be the case with overseas suppliers.

In the realm of furniture, this translates to supporting skills passed down through generations, from the masterful creation of intricate coffee tables to sturdier office furniture. When you buy a local, custom piece, you are contributing to the local economy and more; you’re becoming a patron of a long-standing tradition.

Handmade vs Machine Made: The Nuance in Craftsmanship

The bespoke charm of handcrafted furniture remains unbeaten. Australian artisans take pride in creating furniture that embodies your personal style, allowing you to get exactly what you envision. On the other hand, the import furniture market, especially pieces that come flat-packed from large retailers like IKEA, offers a uniform solution with little room for individual expression.

The Environmental Impact: Stewardship and Sustainability

The environmental impact of importing furniture into Australia can be greater than you might anticipate. Consider the freight, the shipment, and the packaging; these factors all contribute to the carbon footprint of your piece. Then there's the department’s biosecurity import conditions to consider: ensuring that wooden packing materials do not become a vector for pest or fungus infestation, which may require treatments such as fumigate or presenting a fumigation certificate.

Australian furniture, on the other hand, often comes with a lower ecological impact and a focus on sustainability. Many local craftsmen prioritise materials sourced from sustainably managed forests, as evidenced by certifications from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

Navigating International Trade: The Logistic Maze

Importing does not come without its complexities. Those involved in business involving international trade must navigate around importing furniture and comply with Australia's legal requirements. This includes everything from meeting the department of agriculture’s standards to holding an import permit to the customs storage declaration upon the item's arrival. They must ensure that the furniture offer includes all the necessary documentation, like the newly manufactured plywood declaration for import, and meet the requirements set by BICON, Australia's Biosecurity Import Conditions system.

Keeping Local Craftsmanship Alive: Buying Australian Made

Manufacturing furniture locally embodies a spirit of heritage and pride. It’s heartening to note that even in recent times, there has been a resurgence in the appetite for Australian furniture as people begin buying Australian-made furniture more consciously. This shift is not just about wanting to support local—it’s also about seeking value for money, knowing that many furniture manufacturers offer warranty and service guarantees that imported goods often lack.

Challenges such as the shipping containers filled with imported goods docking into Australian ports or the complex details regarding mold and pest management that importers must deal with, including the phytosanitary certificate or ensuring wooden furniture complies with the forest management standards—these are prompts reminding us of the simplicity and assurance of choosing local.

The journey to prioritise Australian-made items requires a collective effort. It is about creating awareness, showing preference for locally manufactured alternatives, and understanding the broader impacts of our purchases. The decline in local manufacturing is reversible, and buying Australian is a pillar in this revival strategy.

In the face of global economic pressures, it might seem easier to succumb to the allure of imports, but every choice we make sends a ripple through the economy, the environment, and our communities. Let those ripples transform into waves that bolster local craftsmanship, safeguard our environment, and revive a sense of Australian pride in the things we make and cherish.

Ultimately, whether it's a dining table, tv cabinets, or even office furniture, each purchase decision is a chance to vote for the kind of world we want to live in. One where quality, sustainability, and supporting our own take precedence over the fleeting satisfaction of a bargain buy. Let’s band together, advocate for, and celebrate Australian-made, because, in the end, homegrown is not just a mark of origin but a badge of honor.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.