A re­tail space with a dif­fer­ence

This place aims to cre­ate a com­mu­nity of lifestyle en­trepreneurs.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Spaces - By WONG LI ZA star2@thes­tar.com.my Com­mune is lo­cated at the Sun­way Ve­loc­ity Mall, Lingkaran SV, Sun­way Ve­loc­ity, Kuala Lumpur. On so­cial me­dia: face­book.com/Com­muneAtSun­wayVe­loc­ity and in­sta­gram.com/com­muneatsun­wayve­loc­ity.

WHEN you walk into Com­mune, there is a sense of the con­tem­po­rary en­cased in a by­gone era.

De­signed with an open, old-street-style con­cept, wooden doors and win­dow frames sal­vaged from old houses and shop­houses in Se­lan­gor and Me­laka are reused as part of the re­tail lot’s struc­ture.

Sky­lights above il­lu­mi­nate the space nat­u­rally, while grills serve as walls that pro­mote vis­i­bil­ity and trans­parency.

Lo­cated on the fifth floor of Sun­way Ve­loc­ity Mall in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, Com­mune is a 1,400sq m re­tail space that fea­tures 13 stores and 43 in­de­pen­dent brands rep­re­sent­ing the fields of art, de­sign, fash­ion, cul­ture, and mu­sic.

Browse through ur­ban pulp fic­tion books in Malay, English, and Ba­hasa In­done­sia, or get a dose of nostal­gia while flip­ping through vinyl records, some fea­tur­ing mu­sic dat­ing back to the 1930s.

Ad­mire hand­crafted fur­ni­ture and home ac­ces­sories, or pick up some eco-friendly skin­care prod­ucts be­fore sit­ting down with a nut­meg soda or sin­gle origin spe­cial­ity cof­fee, paired with some Per­anakan or Ja­panese food.

But don’t we have enough malls in the Klang Val­ley, you ask? Well, Com­mune, it turns out, is more than a shop­ping venue; what it is, is an in­cu­ba­tor for as­pir­ing lifestyle en­trepreneurs, pro­vid­ing them with an en­vi­ron­ment in which they can show­case their tal­ents.

“The idea of Com­mune is to cre­ate a com­mu­nity of dif­fer­ent ar­ti­sans and young en­trepreneurs. It also pro­vides a plat­form for up-and-com­ing de­sign­ers and ar­ti­sans to show­case their prod­ucts and get mar­ket feed­back,” says cu­ra­tor Danny Ho, 32, at a re­cent in­ter­view in the space. (He’s a cu­ra­tor rather than a man­ager or some­thing else more mun­dane, be­cause what is al­lowed into this space is care­fully cho­sen.)

In ad­di­tion, Com­mune also serves as an av­enue for artists to share knowl­edge, ex­per­tise, and re­sources.

“We try to cul­ti­vate a spirit of co-op­er­a­tion here be­tween re­tail­ers, to share re­sources and cre­ate some­thing larger. Hence, we in­cor­po­rated a com­mon space called the Event Foyer at the heart of Com­mune,” adds co-cu­ra­tor Matthew Ong, 34.

“We also en­cour­age re­tail­ers to give back to the com­mu­nity by giv­ing talks that ben­e­fit the pub­lic.

“What we hope to do is to ed­u­cate cus­tomers about the brands’ ori­gins and their cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity as­pects, which are all im­por­tant to un­der­stand the brands bet­ter,” says Ong.

Some past events held at the Foyer since the Sun­way Ve­loc­ity Mall opened in De­cem­ber last year in­clude a Chi­nese opera, in­de­pen­dent film screen­ings, cu­rated flea mar­kets and spe­cial­ity bazaars, and work­shops and pub­lic talks on health and beauty.

Com­mune also fea­tures two “se­cret” rooms called the Odd Rooms, which are avail­able for the artists and de­sign­ers to hold pri­vate work­shops.

An out­door sec­tion is also un­der­way, which will ac­com­mo­date hand­i­craft, wood­craft, and gar­den-based prod­ucts and ac­tiv­i­ties.

Ong says, as a way of giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity, Com­mune also works with sin­gle moth­ers and peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties in the Klang Val­ley, help­ing them to learn mar­ketable crafts or par­tic­i­pate in work­shops.

Buskers and street artistes are also wel­comed to use the space (for free) on the week­ends.

“We feel that there are many tal­ented artists who don’t have the space to show­case their tal­ent, so we want to of­fer them this plat­form to do so,” says Ong.

“Com­mune’s ul­ti­mate pur­pose is to see more brands de­velop here.

“I want to prove to Malaysians that only when we are united can we be suc­cess­ful in the art and de­sign world,” says Ho.

— Pho­tos: KAMARUL ARIFFIN/The Star

Wooden door and win­dow frames, sal­vaged from old houses and shop­houses in Se­lan­gor and Me­laka, have been reused to frame the re­tail lots at Com­mune.

Past events held at the Event Foyer – shown above in two dif­fer­ent con­fig­u­ra­tions – in­clude a Chi­nese opera, in­de­pen­dent film screen­ings, cu­rated flea mar­kets and spe­cialty bazaars, and work­shops and pub­lic talks on health and beauty.

Street artists and buskers are wel­comed to use the space at Com­mune to per­form — Com­mune

Com­mune cu­ra­tors Ong (left) and Ho.

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