From the minds of the re­gion’s most in­ge­nious prod­uct and fur­ni­ture designers come ex­quis­ite home­wares that you’d be proud to show­case in your abode. By Justina Tan

Epicure (Indonesia) - - CONTENTS -

Asian pride in the form of stylish home fur­nish­ings

Ken­neth Cobon­pue, Philip­pines

Dubbed ‘rat­tan’s first vir­tu­oso’ by the me­dia, Ken­neth Cobon­pue’s award-win­ning fur­ni­ture de­signs have ap­peared in films such as To­tal Re­call and Ocean’s Thir­teen, and mu­sic videos like Ma­roon 5’s Never Gonna Leave this Bed. Celebri­ties and roy­alty love his fur­nish­ings

– the 50-year-old Cebu na­tive counts Queen Ra­nia of Jor­dan, Brad

Pitt and An­gelina Jolie as fans. The for­mer celebrity cou­ple fa­mously pur­chased Cobon­pue’s Voy­age Bed – it re­sem­bles a pa­pyrus and reed boat – for their son, Mad­dox.

Cobon­pue’s early col­lec­tions in­cor­po­rated mostly nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als sourced from the Philip­pines, such as bam­boo, rat­tan, abaca, palms and sea grasses. How­ever, his de­signs have since evolved to in­clude more tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced ma­te­ri­als like car­bon fi­bre. Whether us­ing rus­tic or mod­ern ma­te­ri­als, a com­mon thread runs through all his cre­ations: they show­case a high level of crafts­man­ship. In­trin­si­cally Asian yet im­pec­ca­bly fresh and con­tem­po­rary, the Bloom chair – one of his most well-known fur­ni­ture pieces – is in­spired by the hibis­cus flower. Hand­made with mi­crofi­bre, the frond­like lounge chair is com­posed of hun­dreds of fine run­ning stitches that ra­di­ate from the cen­tre of the seat.

Jes­sica Wong and Pamela Ting, Sin­ga­pore

In an in­dus­try dom­i­nated by Dan­ish and Ital­ian de­signs, Scene Shang is a rare gem. Founded in 2014 by Sin­ga­pore­ans Pamela Ting and Jes­sica Wong, both 34, the home­ware and fur­ni­ture la­bel puts an in­no­va­tive spin on tra­di­tional Chi­nese fur­ni­ture.

Af­ter the for­mer school­mates took on sep­a­rate in­tern­ships in Shang­hai 11 years ago, they were in­spired by the bustling city’s vi­brant mix of tra­di­tion and moder­nity, which in turn sparked their ap­pre­ci­a­tion for Chi­nese cul­ture. They left their day jobs in 2012 and spent the fol­low­ing year and a half in Shang­hai to learn the fur­ni­ture trade, source for Chi­nese crafts­men, and re­fine their brand ethos. The la­bel met with re­sound­ing suc­cess af­ter launch­ing on­line in 2014, and Scene Shang’s brick and mor­tar store de­buted on Beach Road in April 2016.

One of the duo’s most pop­u­lar fur­ni­ture pieces is the Shang Sys­tem, which takes its vis­ual cues from the

Ming dy­nasty. Boast­ing a set of stack­able hand-carved draw­ers, the mod­u­lar fur­ni­ture sys­tem al­lows clients to cus­tomise colours and com­po­nents. It re­ceived a spe­cial com­men­da­tion at the 2014 Pres­i­dent’s De­sign Award and won a Golden A’ De­sign Award at Italy’s A’ De­sign Award and Com­pe­ti­tion in 2016.

Last year, Scene Shang col­lab­o­rated with a tat­too artist, an in­die de­sign stu­dio and a fash­ion la­bel to cre­ate an elm wood bench etched with koi and lo­tus pat­terns on the leather up­hol­stery, a Chi­nese chess set with brass pieces carved by a lo­cal auto parts maker, and ribbed porce­lain rice bowls made in east China. They also launched a Mid-au­tumn col­lec­tion last Oc­to­ber, of which the most no­table pieces are the TANG ta­bles. In­spired by the hue of duck­weed in a rus­tic pond, the ta­bles’ sur­faces re­sem­ble jade and are con­structed from brass­plated rods, tem­pered glass, and handfin­ished pati­naed laser cut steel sheets.

The beauty of Scene Shang’s de­signs is that they blend seam­lessly with both vin­tage and con­tem­po­rary in­te­ri­ors – a per­fect mar­riage of old-world charm and in­no­va­tion.

Tomo Kimura, Ja­pan

Tokyo-born prod­uct de­signer Tomo Kimura’s cre­ations are a flaw­less blend of Ja­pan’s min­i­mal­ist aes­thetic and fine Ital­ian ar­ti­san­ship – spiked with an un­con­ven­tional spirit. The 43-yearold grad­u­ated with a de­gree in hu­man sciences, but sub­se­quently spent more than a decade in Italy where he nursed his love for de­sign. There, he achieved a diploma in in­te­rior de­sign from Ac­cademia Cap­piello in 2002 and a diploma in prod­uct de­sign from Isti­tuto Europeo di De­sign in 2009. In Turin, he worked with ad­ver­tis­ing and de­sign stu­dios, restor­ing mod­ern an­tique fur­ni­ture such as a 1956 Au­gusto Bozzi chair, and de­vel­op­ing his own projects.

His most no­table cre­ation is per­haps Twitty, a door han­dle that was one of the win­ning en­tries for the ‘hands on door han­dles’ com­pe­ti­tion jointly or­gan­ised by De­sign­boom and Italy’s Colombo De­sign in 2011. Crafted in the shape of a perch­ing bird, the han­dle was made through a com­plex an­cient tech­nique of cast­ing molten metal in­side a damp clay sand mould.

Kimura re­turned to Ja­pan three years ago, where he now holds a day job at a com­pany spe­cial­is­ing in engineering and man­u­fac­tur­ing ground, marine, and aero­space ve­hi­cles. How­ever, he con­tin­ues to hone his craft, cre­at­ing min­i­mal­ist mas­ter­pieces such as the Float­ing Oak Con­sole Ta­ble and the ORCA end­less mod­u­lar­ity ta­ble.

Lee Chia-ying, Tai­wan

A de­signer and in­ven­tor rolled into one, Tai­wanese de­signer Lee Chia-ying, 37, is the brain­child be­hind quirky cre­ations such as Ran­dom (a pen­dant light with two strings that il­lu­mi­nates ran­dom orbs with each tug) and In Your Time (a clock that records one’s heart rate through a pulse sen­sor, and trans­lates it into hours and min­utes). In 2011, she founded stu­dio if, a multi-dis­ci­plinary out­fit spe­cial­is­ing in in­dus­trial de­sign, phys­i­cal in­ter­ac­tion de­sign, and new me­dia in­stal­la­tion. She stud­ied mu­sic and com­puter sci­ence, but sub­se­quently en­rolled in Italy’s In­ter­ac­tion De­sign In­sti­tute Ivrea. Her pas­sion in home­wares was ig­nited af­ter her first job at the in­dus­trial de­sign cen­tre of a con­sumer elec­tron­ics com­pany.

Her pen­chant for sto­ry­telling is ap­par­ent from her whim­si­cal cre­ations. But more of­ten than not, her de­signs trig­ger ‘why didn’t I think of that’ re­ac­tions. Clever in­ven­tions in­clude Tik­tik­tik, a ta­ble lamp that al­lows its user to set the length of time the light is on – up to an hour – sim­ply by how far the chain is pulled, and Un­fold – a series of wall stick­ers that in­cor­po­rate a ra­dio, a lamp and a scent dif­fuser. Us­ing the con­cept of origami to cre­ate play­ful tran­si­tions be­tween forms, each sticker serves a func­tion when it’s opened up and folded back. For ex­am­ple, the Un­fold Ra­dio sticker re­sem­bles a gramo­phone and the folded horn serves as both the switch and vol­ume con­trol for the ra­dio – the fur­ther you open up the horn, the louder the vol­ume be­comes.

She has also col­lab­o­rated with the Na­tional Tai­wan Mu­seum of Fine Arts and JUT Foun­da­tion for Arts and Ar­chi­tec­ture, cre­at­ing in­stal­la­tions such as the Ono­matopoeia Type­writer that’s crafted from ply­wood and acrylic, and the Voice Bub­ble Ma­chine that pro­duces soap bubbles only when ac­ti­vated by loud voices. Com­mer­cially, she has de­signed for Stu­dio Italia De­sign and runs a small pro­duc­tion of her de­signs for stores and gal­leries in Eu­rope, Taipei and Bei­jing.

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