Wood Purchasing News


Feature Story


U.S. Hardwoods Gain Favor With DESIGNS LIGNA

By Lucas Ngu

Sally Yao is the marketing manager for Designs Ligna, which purchases at least one container per month of raw materials from the U.S. for the production of various furniture items.
Manila, The Philippines–Thirty-eight years ago, Designs Ligna was just a small workshop located at the front yard of the residential property of Al de Lange, the company’s founder. Through the years, it has evolved to become one of the better-known furniture manufacturers in the Philippines.

Holding the reins of the company today is Nicolaas de Lange, who took over his father’s business and has trans-formed it into a modern wood processing factory that is involved in the production of furniture for the modern home, offices, condominiums and hotels.

A 30-minute drive from the city’s center of Manila, Designs Ligna emphasizes the production of high-end furniture with 80 percent of the products being shipped to the U.S.

In the Philippines, Designs Ligna is a name that is synonymous with prestigious developments and its clientele includes the Marco Polo Hotel in Davao, the Linden Suites in Manila as well as the RCBC Bank.

In 2001, the company moved to a new location in Manila when the old factory was razed by fire. Operating on a 5,500 m2 site, the factory employs 150 workers and is equipped with modern woodworking machinery. Incorporated into the furniture-making facility is a veneering line that gives the company an edge over competitors, thus enabling it to turn out even more eye-catching furniture pieces. As the company grew from strength to strength, it has remained loyal and committed to the name that it is known as at home and in distant shores – Ligna – a Latin word for wood.

The furniture items are manufactured for the high-end segment of the market with the bulk being exported to the U.S. market and that explains why raw material has to be imported from the U.S., arriving at a rate of one container every month while
Designs Ligna products are made of various wood species, but all are purchased in Select and Better grades, and No. 1 Common for the production of chairs.
three containers of veneer are imported from Europe each year.

“For the production of bedroom furniture, the U.S. timber comes in ‘Select and Better’ grade and ‘One Common’ for chairs,” said Sally Yao, the company’s sales manager.

The lumber is delivered to the factory in 1-to-2-inch thicknesses, and with widths of 6-inches and up, and 8 feet or more in length.

Each day, workers carry out tasks assigned to them from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. with those involved in the more critical stations like machining and veneering having to do shift work.

At the end of the production line, the furniture items are loaded into containers and shipped out at a rate of eight containers a month.

The company started importing wood from the U.S. 10 years ago and it has not encountered major problems relating to the use of American timber.

According to Ms. Yao, the decision to use U.S. timber was not only customer driven but also prompted by the company’s social commitment to work with materials from sustainable sources only.

The company’s products are exported to 16 countries around the world.
“It is easier to sell a product when our potential customers are familiar with the species we use and the timber complements the high-end look of our pieces,” she added.

Like many other furniture manufacturers in the region, Designs Ligna is a very contented user of U.S. hardwood and this has enabled the company to churn out wood products to the satisfaction of end users or customers, both at home and abroad.

To ensure in-time delivery of raw material, the company makes it a point to place orders two months in advance. This ensures that the production flow is smooth and continuous,
without exerting any pressure on inventories.

The company’s emphasis on quality means furniture parts have to be inspected visually, piece by piece at every stage of the production process. To make sure that the parts fit nicely, the raw material has to be precisely cut and defects rectified.

As with many Philippine furniture designs, the products also combine mixed media with some items being made from a combination of materials, mostly wood and rattan. In Manila, customers can take their pick of the impressive array of quality furniture items at the company’s retail outlets in SM Megamall, Glorietta 5 and on Arnaiz Avenue in Makati City.

Designs Ligna’s workforce includes 200 highly skilled craftsmen.
To enable it to stay ahead of the competition, Design Ligna works with well-known designers like Joey Yupangco and Ed Calma, both graduates from Pratt Institute in New York. The company also does exclusive pieces for internationally renowned designer Karim Rashid.

Nicolaas de Lange was the youngest president of the Philippine Chamber of Furniture Industries when he first ran it at 29, and he was recently asked to serve a second term. He has now moved on to chairing the ASEAN Furniture Industries Council.

In recognition of the company’s pursuit of excellence, Designs Ligna is a recipient of numerous awards, including one from the President of the Philippines for the outstanding partnership the company has developed with its employees.

For more information, visit the company’s website at www.designsligna.com or email

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