Tag Archives: China

I Photographed The Pamir Mountains And Would Like To Show The Beauty Of These Places (10 Photos)

In this project, I have collected 10 photos that show the beauty of the mountains of Central Asia – Pamir and Tien Shan.

The Roof of the World – this is how the name of the Pamir mountain system is often translated. The Pamir is located on the territory of Tajikistan, China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. At the same time, it is closely connected with other highest mountain systems in the world – Tien Shan, Karakorum, Hindu Kush, the Himalayas. Their severity and great height distinguish the Pamir mountains. There are many glaciers, lakes, and rivers here. Living conditions are very harsh, and there is a place for high mountain deserts, where the polar climate prevails.

Continue reading I Photographed The Pamir Mountains And Would Like To Show The Beauty Of These Places (10 Photos)

Here’s How 6 Asian Castles Looked Before Falling Into Ruins

Sadly, not all historic landmarks stand the test of time, meaning we will never get to see them the same way they looked in their heyday. But worry not – some talented digital artists out there are using their skills to restore the long-lost historic landmarks to their former glory in digital form, ensuring their legacy isn’t lost.

Recently, Budget Direct teamed up with digital artists to recreate six Asian castles that did not survive to this day, and it’s pretty amazing to see these stunning buildings come back to life. See the digital recreations of these castles in the gallery below, and if you want to see more, see our previous posts here and here!

More info: budgetdirect.com.au

Sadly, not all historic landmarks stand the test of time, meaning we will never get to see them the same way they looked in their heyday. But worry not – some talented digital artists out there are using their skills to restore the long-lost historic landmarks to their former glory in digital form, ensuring their legacy isn’t lost.

Recently, Budget Direct teamed up with digital artists to recreate six Asian castles that did not survive to this day, and it’s pretty amazing to see these stunning buildings come back to life. See the digital recreations of these castles in the gallery below, and if you want to see more, see our previous posts here and here!

Continue reading Here’s How 6 Asian Castles Looked Before Falling Into Ruins

50 Times Architects Really Outdid Themselves And People Celebrated Their Works Online

Architecture is meant to fulfill both practical and expressive requirements, and thus it serves both utilitarian and aesthetic purposes. When you look at a structure, you can distinguish these two ends but they cannot be separated, and the relative weight each of them carry can vary widely. Plus, every society has its own, unique relationship to the natural world and its architecture usually reflects that as well, allowing people from other places to learn about their environment, as well as history, ceremonies, artistic sensibility, and many aspects of daily life.

However, architecture is better seen, not described. So, let me introduce you to “the beautiful impossibilities that we want to live in“, a subreddit dedicated to high-quality images of some of the most impressive (concept) buildings out there. This online community already has over 617K members, and the pictures they share are absolutely gorgeous. Continue scrolling and take a look!

Continue reading 50 Times Architects Really Outdid Themselves And People Celebrated Their Works Online

This Is What 6 Asian Castles Looked Like Originally Before Falling Into Ruins By Budget Direct

You are surely craving traveling by this point, so the best we can do is to offer you a way to discover something new and exciting without leaving your home. This time it’s the largest and the most populated continent, Asia, with its 45 million square kilometers of deserts, mountains, plateaus, plains, and jungles that carry the history of ancient civilizations. Budget Direct decided to digitally reconstruct 6 castles that have turned into ruins over the years across five countries in Asia. Asia’s architectural wonders are restored to their former glory right before our eyes.
This is the latest project in the series of reconstructions by Budget Direct: the team has previously brought back to life European castles, Ancient Wonders, and heritage sites protected by UNESCO.
Lee McCullagh, one of the project’s editors, spoke to Bored Panda:
“2020 saw millions of people across the globe are stuck at home, and even in 2021, there are many travel restrictions still in place. To support those searching for armchair travel inspiration, Budget Direct decided to bring back some of the most awe-inspiring castles from across Asia. The team started by making a long list of castles in Asia and then narrowed these down to those that had available resources for us to digitally remaster.
They then chose the castles with the most architectural wonder from across the continent to rebuild. The team worked with researchers, architects, and digital designers to bring these ancient castles into the 21st century.”
So sit back, relax, and let the virtual travel begin! And hopefully, you’ll find out something new today along the way.
More info: budgetdirect.com.au

You are surely craving traveling by this point, so the best we can do is to offer you a way to discover something new and exciting without leaving your home. This time it’s the largest and the most populated continent, Asia, with its 45 million square kilometers of deserts, mountains, plateaus, plains, and jungles that carry the history of ancient civilizations. Budget Direct decided to digitally reconstruct 6 castles that have turned into ruins over the years across five countries in Asia. Asia’s architectural wonders are restored to their former glory right before our eyes.

Continue reading This Is What 6 Asian Castles Looked Like Originally Before Falling Into Ruins By Budget Direct

47 Portraits That Show The Power Of Smiling And May Change The Way You Look At Strangers (New Pics)

In 2013, the Australian traveler and photographer Jay Weinstein met a smile that changed everything. While wandering the streets in Bikaner, India, Jay spotted a man leaning against a row of motorbikes. The photographer was immediately drawn to the stranger, but felt it was best to avoid him. “Take my picture too!” the man shouted at Jay, who was shooting nearby objects, and Jay replied with a simple “Smile!”

This encounter started an almost decade-long mission of capturing strangers on the streets of the world, before and after them smiling. The simple act, sometimes genuine, other times forced, bears the transformative powers that lighten up the face and seemingly open up the soul within.

Continue reading 47 Portraits That Show The Power Of Smiling And May Change The Way You Look At Strangers (New Pics)

First Vertical Forest In Asia With 3,000 Plants Will Turn CO2 Into 132 Pounds Of Oxygen Per Day

Let us introduce you to the greener future of urbanized landscapes – vertical forests in Nanjing, China. These two forest-like buildings are called Nanjing Towers, and they’ll produce 132 pounds (60kg) of oxygen every day once they’re completed in 2018. With environmental concerns being a huge problem in overpopulated and overpolluted China, innovative projects like this are – literally – a much-needed breath of fresh air.

Each of the Nanjing Towers will stand 656ft and 354ft respectively, and between them, they’ll house over 1,000 trees and approximately 2,500 shrubs from 23 different local species. The taller tower will contain offices, a museum, a green architecture school and a rooftop club. When it comes to the smaller tower, it’s just as impressive, as it will house a rooftop pool and a 247-room Hyatt hotel. Balconies will afford visitors stunning views of the dizzying vertical forests that are intended to help regenerate local biodiversity.

The architectural masterpiece is designed by Stefano Boeri who has already created vertical forests in Milan (Italy) and Lausanne (Switzerland).

More info: stefano boeri | facebook (h/t: inhabitatmymodernmet, boredpanda)

These towers in Nanjing, China will contain vertical forests that will house 2,500 shrubs and over 1,000 trees

The 23 different tree varieties will produce around 132 pounds (60kg) of oxygen every day

They were designed by Italian architect Stefano Boeri and they will be completed in 2018

Similar buildings have also been planned by the architect for Lausanne, Switzerland

And two vertical forests, called Bosco Verticale, have already been built in Milan, Italy

For more eco designs check out this floating gym in Paris.

Continue reading First Vertical Forest In Asia With 3,000 Plants Will Turn CO2 Into 132 Pounds Of Oxygen Per Day

30 Country Flags Reimagined As Anime Characters For 2020 Tokyo Olympics

By now, you’ve probably already heard that Tokyo will be hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics. To celebrate this upcoming event, a handful of Japanese artists decided to team up and reimagine some of the participating countries as badass warriors.

The artists took inspiration from each countries’ flags and history while giving all of them a unique twist. From Japan itself to South Africa, check out the countries reimagined as anime warriors in the gallery below!

More info: world-flags.org | Twitter

#1 Philippines

Image source: world flags

#2 Mexico

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#3 UK

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#4 Vietnam

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#5 South Korea

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#6 Japan

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#7 China

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#8 South Africa

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#9 Sweden

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#10 Malaysia

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#11 Italy

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#12 Finland

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#13 Canada

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#14 Belgium

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#15 Spain

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#16 France

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#17 Switzerland

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#18 Germany

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#19 Argentina

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#20 Norway

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#21 Singapore

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#22 Thailand

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#23 Brazil

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#24 India

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#25 Indonesia

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#26 Netherlands

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#27 Venesuela

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#28 Denmark

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#29 Russia

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#30 USA

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Continue reading 30 Country Flags Reimagined As Anime Characters For 2020 Tokyo Olympics

25 Amazing People’s Choice Photos From The Wildlife Photographer Of The Year Contest 2019

Back in the middle of October, Yongqing Bao was announced the Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) for his amazing photograph of a Tibetan fox engaging with a Himalayan marmot, titled “The Moment”. And now, almost two months later, The Natural History Museum has chosen 25 more incredible wildlife photos from the WPY 2019 shortlist for the LUMIX People’s Choice award.

As before, the photos showcase the complex relationships between both humans, and the animals themselves. And, clearly, no animal is too big or too small for these photographers – they’ve captured all sorts of animals, ranging from tiny mice to giant humpback whales. See the incredible photos in the gallery below and don’t forget to cast your own vote – you can do so hereuntil Tuesday, February 4th, 2020.

#1 “The Surrogate Mother”, Martin Buzora, Canada

Image source: Martin Buzora

Elias Mugambi is a ranger at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in northern Kenya. He often spends weeks away from his family caring for orphaned black rhinos like Kitui here. The young rhinos are in the sanctuary as a result of poaching or because their mothers are blind and cannot care for them safely in the wild.

#2 “Station Squabble”, Sam Rowley, UK

Image source: Sam Rowley

Sam discovered the best way to photograph the mice inhabiting London’s Underground was to lie on the platform and wait. He only saw them fight over scraps of food dropped by passengers a few times, possibly because it is so abundant. This fight lasted a split second, before one grabbed a crumb and they went their separate ways.

#3 “Winter’s Tale”, Valeriy Maleev, Russia

Image source: Valeriy Maleev

Valeriy encountered this Pallas’s cat while it was out hunting in the Mongolian grasslands – it was -42°C (-44°F) on that frosty day, but the fairy tale scene cancelled out the cold. Pallas’s cats are no bigger than a domestic cat and they stalk small rodents, birds and occasionally insects.

#4 “Mother Knows Best”, Marion Vollborn, Germany

Image source: Marion Vollborn

While on a bear watching trip to the Nakina River in British Columbia, Canada Marion spotted a grizzly bear and her young cub approach a tree. The mother bear started to rub against the tree trunk and was followed shortly by the cub, imitating its mother.

#5 “Tender Play”, Steve Levi, USA

Image source: Steve Levi

It was early March and Steve spotted this mother polar bear and her two cubs after 10 days of looking. They had recently left their birthing den in Wapusk National Park, Canada, to begin the long journey to the sea ice so their mother could feed. After a nap the cubs were in a playful mood.

#6 “Trustful”, Ingo Arndt, Germany

Image source: Ingo Arndt

For over two years Ingo has followed the pumas of Torres del Paine National Park, in Patagonia, Chile. This female was so used to his presence that one day she fell asleep nearby. On wakening, she glanced at him in a familiar way, and he was able to capture this portrait of a completely relaxed puma.

#7 “Inquisitive”, Audun Rikardsen, Norway

Image source: Audun Rikardsen

From a hide on the coast of northern Norway, it took Audun three years of planning to capture this majestic bird of prey in its coastal environment. After some time, the golden eagle became curious of the camera and seemed to like being in the spotlight.

#8 “What A Poser”, Clement Mwangi, Kenya

Image source: Clement Mwangi

In Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve, Clement spent time observing this beautiful leopard as she soaked up the last warm rays of the setting sun. Clement is mindful to remember to take pleasure in life’s simple moments – being all too aware that sometimes, as a wildlife photographer, you can miss the exceptional while looking for the unusual.

#9 “The Unwelcome Visitor”, Salvador Colvée Nebot, Spain

Image source: Salvador Colvée Nebot

Over several months, Salvador watched different species of bird use the dead flower spike of this agave in Valencia, Spain as a perch before descending to a small pond to drink. A pair of common kestrels were frequent visitors though each time they came magpies would hassle them.

#10 “Training Session”, Stefan Christmann, Germany

Image source: Stefan Christmann

When Stefan came across this penguin couple in Atka Bay, Antarctica, seemingly with an egg, he was surprised as it was too early in the season for egg-laying. Upon closer inspection he discovered the egg was a snowball! Perhaps the diligent couple were practicing egg transfer in preparation for when their real egg arrived. This is possibly the first time it has ever been witnessed and documented.

#11 “Teamwork”, Jake Davis, USA

Image source: Jake Davis

Jake was on a boat off the coast of Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada where he watched humpback whales bubble-net feeding. Here the lead whale dives to locate the fish, once the fish are located, the rest of the pod swim in decreasing circles while blowing bubbles which create a net, trapping the fish.

#12 “Matching Outfits”, Michel Zoghzoghi, Lebanon

Image source: Michel Zoghzoghi

Michel was in the Pantanal, Brazil photographing jaguars. One afternoon, as he was on the Três Irmãos River, a mother and her cub crossed right in front of his boat. He watched mesmerized as they left the water holding an anaconda with a very similar pattern to their own.

#13 “A Suitable Gift”, Marco Valentini, Italy

Image source: Marco Valentini

Marco was in Hortobágyi National Park, Hungary when he spotted these kestrels displaying typical courtship behaviour. Here the female has just received an offering of a young green lizard from her suitor and in this touching moment she tenderly took hold of his claw.

#14 “Spot The Reindeer”, Francis De Andres, Spain

Image source: Francis De Andres

The conditions for photographing at the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard are extreme, but wildlife has adapted to the environment and its freezing temperatures. Francis found this composition of white arctic reindeer, which were observing him, both curious and charming.

#15 “Dressed For Dawn”, Csaba Tökölyi, Hungary

Image source: Csaba Tökölyi

Csaba had been in a hide all night photographing nocturnal species and their activities, but as the golden light of dawn reflected on the surface of the water, an egret in wonderful breeding plumage stopped close by. The elongated scapular feathers covered the bird as if it was wearing a gown.

#16 “The Humpback Calf”, Wayne Osborn, Australia

Image source: Wayne Osborn

Wayne spotted this male humpback calf and its mother while diving off the Vava’u Island group in the Kingdom of Tonga. The calf kept a curious eye on Wayne as it twisted and turned before returning to its mother periodically to suckle. She was relaxed and motionless 20 metres (65 feet) below.

#17 “Family Get-Together”, Michael Schober, Austria

Image source: Michael Schober

Marmots have become accustomed to the presence of humans in Hohe Tauern National Park, Austria and allow people to observe and photograph them at close range. This behaviour is beneficial for the marmots, as human company deters predators such as golden eagles.

#18 “Beak To Beak”, Claudio Contreras Koob, Mexico

Image source: Claudio Contreras Koob

Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve in the state of Yucatán is home to Mexico’s largest flock of Caribbean flamingos. This chick is less than five days old – it will stay in its nest less than a week before it joins a crèche of other youngsters who wander around the colony searching for food.

#19 “Big Ears”, Valeriy Maleev, Russia

Image source: Valeriy Maleev

Valeriy was on a summer expedition to the Mongolian part of the Gobi Desert when he happened upon a long-eared jerboa. As blood moves through the ears of these usually nocturnal animals, excess heat dissipates across the skin and so the jerboa is able to stay cool.

#20 “Captive”, Marcus Westberg, Sweden

Image source: Marcus Westberg

A giant panda sits in its cage in a breeding centre in Shaanxi, China. With a growing wild population and no realistic plan of how to breed and raise pandas for rerelease into the wild rather than a life in captivity – not to mention lack of habitat being the largest barrier to the continued spread of the wild population – it is unclear how such centres will benefit the species.

#21 “Ocean´s Signature”, Angel Fitor, Spain

Image source: Angel Fitor

Angel took this image in the waters off of Alicante, Spain. Immersed in a strong current, an otherwise slightly undulating salp chain twists and turns forming whimsical shapes. Salps move by contracting, which pumps water through their gelatinous bodies.

#22 “Bon Appétit”, Lucas Bustamante, Ecuador

Image source: Lucas Bustamante

Night hikes through the Ecuadorian jungle are one of Lucas’ favourite activities. With a keen interest in herpetology, he was overjoyed to spot this labiated rainfrog which are abundant in the region. It had just caught a baby tarantula and its comical expression said ‘caught in the act!’

#23 “A Pulsing Sea”, David Doubilet, USA

Image source: David Doubilet

A school of red tooth triggerfish form a cloud of silhouettes above a river of convict blennies flowing over the coral in Verde Island Passage, Philippines. The Passage, a strait that separates the islands of Luzon and Mindoro, is one of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world.

#24 “Meeting Place”, Yaz Loukhal, France

Image source: Yaz Loukhal

After a rough journey by sea to the remote Snow Hill Island off the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, Yaz flew by helicopter and then trekked through thick snow to reach the emperor penguin colony. His efforts were rewarded with this incredible view of the whole colony.

#25 “Losing The Fight”, Aaron Gekoski, UK

Image source: Aaron Gekoski

Orangutans have been used in degrading performances at Safari World, Bangkok – and many other locations – for decades. The shows were temporarily stopped in 2004 due to international pressure, but today the shows continue – twice a day, every day – with hundreds of people paying to watch the orangutans box, dance, play the drums and more.

Continue reading 25 Amazing People’s Choice Photos From The Wildlife Photographer Of The Year Contest 2019

The trade war is coming to a design center near you

Though news of tariffs and trade summits can often fade into the background din of political noise, now’s a good time to start paying attention—things are coming to a boil. In the same week that a long-delayed 25 percent tax will finally be added to a broad range of Chinese imports, the Trump administration announced that it will pursue escalating tariffs on Mexican goods in an effort to pressure our southern neighbors to curb border crossings. A new round of tariffs is also being levied on India.

We took a look at how the Trump administration’s trade policies are impacting the design industry.

TARIFFS 101Tariffs are an import tax on foreign goods, charged to the buyer. Say an American company wants to purchase a sofa made in China that would normally cost $500. If the sofa has a 10 percent tariff, the American buyer would have to pay $50 to the U.S. government for the privilege of buying it.

Tariffs ostensibly de-incentivize imports and act as a kind of punishment against the foreign nation: The idea is to encourage American companies to shop local instead of paying the international import tax. In practice, often companies continue to buy abroad, and are simply forced to raise their prices, which is why the tariff bill is ultimately often footed by consumers.

THE BACKSTORYThe U.S. and China have been engaged in a game of chicken for the past year, each slapping (relatively) small tariffs on each other’s exports. Currently, the U.S. has a 10 percent tariff on a broad range of Chinese goods. At that markup, most wholesale buyers and sellers have agreed to swallow the cost, and consumer prices haven’t changed much. However, a scheduled hike to 25 percent tariffs on $200 billion of products, already delayed several times, is scheduled to go into widespread effect this month. At that markup, the first domino will topple in the supply chain, triggering a slow-motion wave of change.

“Most vendors who import in China have sent us notices saying the 10 percent tariffs would be absorbed by them or their manufacturing partners,” says Mac Hoak, CEO of specialty retailer Mecox Gardens. “At 25 percent, vendors who import in China and their manufacturing partners would both have to increase prices and look for alternatives for production in other countries—which, of course, takes time.”

Tariffs will begin to affect even made-in-America goods soon.

BROWNLEE CURREY, PRESIDENT OF CURREY & COMPANY

Another reason why prices haven’t changed yet: hoarding. Because trade tensions have been percolating for well over a year, many companies have had time to build up a cushion of inventory—like stockpiling supplies for a long winter. Furnishings manufacturer Currey & Company is a case in point: Though the company relies on China for roughly a quarter of its manufacturing, it hasn’t yet had to raise prices. “Our very strong inventory position will ensure that there are no pricing impacts to our customers in the immediate future,” says Bob Ulrich, Currey’s SVP of sales and marketing. “We have been very intentional in the growth of our inventory.”

However, if the tariffs continue, even the most well-stocked larders will run dry, and companies will be forced to either import from China at a markup or manufacture elsewhere.

BEHIND THE SCENES With a 25 percent markup and no clear end in sight, many manufacturers are scrambling to get out of China, or at least develop a backup plan. In recent years, Southeast Asia (Vietnam especially) has grown exponentially as a manufacturing base, and many companies large and small are looking to go there.

“The tariff situation with China has been a major strategic focus in our planning for 2019 and beyond,” says Austin Painter, CEO of designer Amanda Lindroth’s product business. Painter and Lindroth manufactured much of their early pieces in China, and are currently assessing their manufacturing options as their company grows. “Every penny of our margin matters, and a 25 percent hike in landed cost is felt across all lines of the business. … We need to continue to source product elsewhere. While our current materials and construction techniques are replicable throughout Southeast Asia, future product development efforts will be hedged by flexibility in production locations.”

For most designers, the biggest effect of the trade conflict may not be a delayed custom sofa, but the hesitation of a client whose stock portfolio is hurting.

Ironically, some companies, predicting a trade conflict in China, had begun to move production to Mexico (in February, Ethan Allen CEO Farooq Kathwari told Forbes that part of the appeal of the company’s 600,000-foot facility in Mexico was the shelter from tariffs). And many manufacturers south of the border had begun working on compliance with the updated NAFTA treaty—an agreement jeopardized by the threatened tariffs.

Others are attempting to bring elements of their production into the U.S. Though this is precisely what the Trump administration had hoped for, it’s not without complication. “I think it is worth understanding that the tariff piece will begin to affect made-in-America goods soon, because most parts, at least for lighting, are all affected,” says Brownlee Currey, president of Currey & Company. “So even if a company is doing U.S. metalwork, the price of the steel has gone up and the price for many other materials, such as glass, wires, and hardware will all increase.”

And though U.S. manufacturers are no doubt grateful for the new business, some have been overwhelmed by demand. “We know one of the largest high-end retailers began moving some upholstery manufacturing from China—they have already contracted out orders to one of the [U.S.-based] upholstery makers we use,” says Hoak. “This resulted in major new orders for them, but delays and quality-control issues for us, as this new volume has overwhelmed their capacity.”

Put simply: It’s a bit of a mess.

WHAT KINDS OF PRODUCTS ARE MOST AFFECTED?Because tariffs on steel and certain electronic components have already been in place, products that rely on those materials—lighting, for example—are more vulnerable. However, in a highly integrated global economy, a 25 percent increase on materials will have far-ranging consequences.

The situation with China is more mercurial—the uncertainty itself has become its own problem.

“Mainstream furniture will be the most impacted by the situation in China. Even as quickly as U.S. companies are relocating production out of China and into countries like Vietnam, the country remains the single largest source for furniture,” says Warren Shoulberg, a longtime industry watcher and retail expert. “The Mexico situation will impact the glassware and decorative accessories segments more than any others.”

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?The inner workings of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue lie well beyond the purview of Business of Home. Many analysts predict that diplomacy will prevail and the tariffs on Mexico will not go into effect on their scheduled start date of June 10. The situation with China is more mercurial—the uncertainty itself has become its own problem.

If the conflict with Mexico dies down, and the trade war with China fizzles out, then the overall impact will be minimized. Andy Counts, CEO of the trade group American Home Furnishings Alliance, strikes an optimistic note: “The imposition of a new 25 percent tariff on products from China has created uncertainty in the U.S. furniture industry, but no consistent impacts to date,” he says. “While consumers are likely to eventually see some modest price increases, … they also are likely to see a greater selection of U.S.-made goods.”

In a more dramatic scenario, the 25 percent tariff on Chinese goods will continue unabated, and the tariffs on Mexico will increase to 25 percent by October. Such a development would have ramifications throughout the economy in ways that are difficult to predict.

WHAT DESIGNERS NEED TO KNOWNo matter what happens on the political front, the tariffs have already had an impact. Prices for a range of goods have risen, and will likely continue to go up throughout 2019. For interior designers who primarily earn from markup on product, higher prices might not seem like the end of the world. However, it’s likely that disruptions to the global supply chain will lead to delays and backlogs—even for goods not manufactured in China.

More broadly, trade conflicts lead to economic uncertainty, and that’s bad for business. For most designers, the biggest effect of the trade conflict may not be pricey chandeliers or a delayed custom sofa, but the hesitation of a client whose stock portfolio is hurting.

“The overall impact of these tariffs creates a level of uncertainty that makes everyone uncomfortable,” says Ulrich. “This uncertainty can impact business and our perception about the health of our economy in a negative way.”

WHAT TO DO ABOUT ITThere’s not much that designers can do about large-scale economic uncertainty or geopolitical tension. The best plan is simply to follow the news and be prepared. Two things to keep in mind:

Across the board, prices are likely to go up at least a little in the second half of 2019. In general, clients are likely to get more for their money today than they will in five months.

Now would also be a good time to double-check the availability of product—especially items that are integral to long-term projects. Confirm lead times, and try to lock in prices now. Don’t assume that because something is available for a certain price today, it will be in stock at the same price in three months.

Homepage photo: Shutterstock.com

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Continue reading The trade war is coming to a design center near you

Potential tile tariffs drive a wedge between distributors and designers

A pile of tile stacked in Shigu, Yunnan, China (CEphoto, Uwe Aranas/Wikimedia)

Seizing on the momentum generated by the Trump administration’s timber and steel tariffs, a coalition of tile manufacturers is lobbying the U.S. government to impose tariffs of over 400 percent on Chinese-supplied ceramic tiles. While the approval of new duties could lift domestic producers, some design industry professionals are pushing back.

On April 10, eight U.S. ceramic tile producers, all members of the Tile Council of North America, successfully petitioned the Department of Commerce (DOC) to launch an investigation into China’s practice of tile dumping. That group, collected under the name “Coalition for Fair Trade in Ceramic Tile,” included American Wonder Porcelain, Florida Tile, Inc., Crossville, Inc., Florim USA, Dal-Tile Corporation, Landmark Ceramics, Del Conca USA, Inc., and StonePeak Ceramics. The coalition claims that the Chinese government is subsidizing the production of ceramic tiles to below-market-rate prices (or even below production costs) to artificially crowd out the competition, and the group is asking that the DOC impose retaliatory penalties on Chinese manufacturers to level the playing field.

To avoid confusion over what is and is not a tile, the coalition has issued a blanket request pertaining to any tile-like product, no matter the use, thickness, or design, for pieces up to five-feet-by-fifteen-feet. The scope of the complaint also includes tile originating in China and modified— beveled, painted, or refined in any way—in the United States.

In response, the newly-formed Ceramic Tile Alliance (CTA), a group of designers, retailers, and distributors, has launched a petition against imposing new tariffs on Chinese tile. The group argues that doing so would hurt the long-term health of the U.S. ceramics industry to the benefit of domestic manufacturers, that architects and interior designers would lose valuable connections that they’ve cultivated with international artisans, and that retailers would only be able to offer a limited selection.

Additionally, the CTA alleges that showrooms would need to renovate their displays, some of them larger wall and floor pieces, to reflect that certain products would be no longer available. Overall, the CTA estimates that “thousands” of jobs could be lost as distributors and retailers would be forced out of business by higher prices and restricted supplies.

The United States International Trade Commission (ITC) will issue a preliminary injury determination by May 27. If the ITC and DOC find in favor of the coalition, the duties could be imposed as early as the beginning of next May.

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Continue reading Potential tile tariffs drive a wedge between distributors and designers

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