“Design in China”​ e10 – Cabana – The Global Home Furnishing Boutique in China

Look around your home, and many of the furnishings may have their origins in China. Perhaps the materials were sourced from China, or the entire piece was constructed in a factory there. While China exports furniture and home decor to the rest of the world, one company is bringing the world of furniture to China. Cabana is a multi-brand furniture concept store with locations in Beijing and Shanghai.

Founded in 2019, Cabana is owned by Mingus Group and retails furniture from foreign brands. China’s taste for international brands has only been growing in the past decade, with Chinese consumers preferring international brands over local ones for luxury items. Cabana is catering to that appetite, albeit with a mission to modernize Chinese homes.

Cabana focuses on in-store retail unlike many other retailers in China or the West. That makes sense as the retailer focuses on transforming homes with unique ideas from around the world, and their boutique stores provide a visual presentation of what the home would look like. Their brand voice is all about providing contemporary furnishing and lifestyle choices to their consumers. The roster of the brands they carry is impressively long and international. Many brands come from established furniture-producing markets like Scandinavia and Southern Europe (Spain and Italy, in particular). China is quickly becoming a big importer of furniture, thanks to low tariffs on most furniture items and growing demand for high-quality, modern furniture. The country’s shantytown redevelopment project is also contributing to the growing demand for modern furniture. As older, dilapidated homes are demolished, and new structures are constructed, the occupants would need to furnish and decorate their homes from scratch.

Cabana started with a single store in Beijing and, within its first four months, participated in Design China Beijing 2019. Coincidently, the exhibition’s theme, Modern Family, coincided with the brand’s voice. Buschmeyer + Cai Architekten, a German-Chinese design and architecture firm, designed the popup booth for the furniture retailer. Since then, Cabana has opened two locations in Shanghai, the financial hub of China.

Cabana largely caters to luxury consumers in China who prefer quality and aesthetics when it comes to furnishing. And the capital and Shanghai are the best cities to attract such clientele. However, as the demand for imported furniture rises across China, Cabana has the opportunity to expand beyond the confines of luxury-focused Beijing and Shanghai. The store has been featured in prominent magazines and publications like Vogue and Conde Nast Traveller. The company is one of the first ones to bring international furniture brands, including designer European brands, under one roof, giving more options to Chinese consumers. It has stuck to the in-store shopping model, which is rare in a country like China, whose population largely buys online. Going online could increase the exposure of the retailer, but it may not be willing to do that any time soon for the sake of maintaining its exclusivity in the two cities it is present in. 

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