Final Checks and Container Loading in Shanghai

Final Checks and Container Loading in Shanghai

I arrived in Shanghai on Friday, with a few days planned to catch up with everyone at the workshop, check on our latest container of furniture before it leaves and visit the annual Shanghai furniture fair.

I had timed this particular visit to China so that I could personally check a shipment of elm furniture from our Chinese Classical range, along with several bespoke pieces that we have had made to order for customers, before everything was loaded into a container to be shipped this week. This is something I try to do from time to time in order to ensure the quality and consistency of what the workshop produces and to raise any issues directly with the team in Shanghai. This time around we are shipping a 40’ container, so there were around 150 pieces in total to check before they could be packed and loaded.

As usual the guys here had done a great job, but it was still useful to discuss some of the finer points in terms of the finish and detail on the furniture, as well as to make a couple of last minute adjustments to paintings on a couple of pieces to get them just right. From my point of view it is also great just to be able to view everything myself – particularly the bespoke items. Normally we rely on photos taken out here in China and the furniture goes straight out of our warehouse to customers without being unpacked, so we rarely get to see the final results of our discussions with customers and the designs we draw up.

A couple of examples are shown here. The first is a simple blanket trunk fitted with shiny brass hardware and finished in a smart grey lacquer, the colour actually being based on a Farrow and Ball paint that the customer asked us to match. The second is a beautiful pair of wardrobes in cream lacquer, with the inside of the doors and rear inside panel finished in an oyster colour and painted with butterflies and flowers in silver and gold – the pattern based on one of the cabinets in our ‘Canton Colour’ range.

  Loading the container Our container arrives Packed furniture Ready to be loaded
Cream Lacquer Wardrobe, Interior Adding the Final Touches Cream Lacquer Ming Wardrobe Grey Lacquer Blanket Chest

After spending a day at the Shanghai Furniture Fair (more on that later) I visited the factory again the next day for last minute checks on a few items and to witness final packing and loading of the container. This was the first time in 12 years that I had seen the loading process and it was impressive to see the buzz of activity as various workers carried out final checks, fitted any remaining hardware, secured shelves, cleaned and polished the furniture, packed, labelled and finally loaded each item. What seemed a cavernous space when the container was first opened soon started to fill, with each carton carefully placed into position to make full use of the available area like a giant 3D jigsaw.

I had left by the time the container was finally full, with just a few items left over that will go on our next container. The actual loading process took around three hours and the container then left ready to sail in a couple of days from now, arriving in the UK around four weeks later. I won’t see the vast majority of these pieces again before they find new homes with our customers around the UK, so it was great to have the chance to witness this particular part of their journey.

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