The largest meeting of the combined wood and furniture makers in Ireland will gather at the second IWFMN (www.IWFM.ie) Conference on 3 October 2019 in the Science Gallery in Dublin.
The conference aims to share insights and routes to grow the €1.04 billion industry that spans from saw mills to high craft artistic bespoke furniture pieces. With a focus on sustainability the event will also discuss the circular economy, innovation and collaboration with presentations from 10 Irish and international experts.
Bill Vernon, Industry Specialist, IWFMN commented: “At the height of the economy we exported over €80 million of household furniture to the UK before the recession decimated the sector. Now we have the opportunity to rebuild this vibrant sector by bringing all the key players together in a national debate and charting a route forward”.
The wood and furniture sector employs over 10,000 people with the bulk of employment in SMEs employing fewer than eight people. Spread throughout Ireland, hot beds of activity have clustered in different counties with Donegal excelling in kitchen manufacture and large manufacturing plants in door and window manufacturing in Cork, Kilkenny, Dublin and Meath. Monaghan historically had a strong base in domestic furniture manufacturing with the potential for resurgence while it also has a strength in timber-frame housing.
The sector is supported by specialist colleges and courses in Letterfrack, Co Galway, the College of Art and Design in Dun Laoghaire and the newly established DIT campus in Grange Gorman in Dublin.
The Conference will be chaired by Desmond Dwyer, Executive Chairman of the National Conference Centre and features a wide range of talks and panel discussions.
Steve Bowcott, CEO, John Sisk & Son Construction will present on 4D Construction and the Centre Parcs experience. Neil Kerrigan, Enterprise Ireland will discuss Forest Technology Hub : Opportunities for Irish Manufacturing & Construction Sectors.
Des O’Toole, Coillte will share his insights on Bio-Economy & the Carbon Economy : Opportunities for Irish Wood while Susanna Campogrande, Research & Innovation, Wood.BE will present the Belgian experience and Trends from the Milan Furniture Fair.
Dr. Frank O’Connor, anois, will cover Eco-design and the circular economy and the opportunity to lead globally. Sean Downey, Specialist Contracting Director, CIF. Dermot O’Donovan, GMIT Letterfrack will cover the Evolution of Work-based Learning. Gabriella Kemendi, General Secretary, European Furniture Industry Confederation will share the European experience.
The discussion panel will debate Irish Case Studies for Collaboration led by Simon Dennehy, Perch Design Studio and Sean Phillips OVVO while the second panel will discuss Sustainability in the Wood Industry led by Dr. Frank O’Connor and Mark Sweeney, Enterprise Ireland.
The keynote speaker is Minister Heather Humphreys, Minister for Business, Enterprise & Innovation.
Commenting, IWFMN added “This forum will create the catalyst needed to take these learnings and build a vibrant sector through the collaboration of all the key industry players.”