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DESIGN RESONANCE: Mat Collection (above).
DESIGN RESONANCE: Mr Huang and Ms Tng (above) are drawn to the thought process that goes into creating a piece of furniture, from conceptualising, to designing, sourcing materials, and finally production.
DESIGN RESONANCE: Eunos Lounge chair (above)
PASSION FOR DETAIL: Each piece in Mr Llewelyn-Bowen's (above) collaboration with Courts is bold, fashionable and a conversation starter.
PASSION FOR DETAIL: The Posh armchair and Mansion House sofa (above).
LIVING IN A KOREAN DRAMA: Macaron family (above).
LIVING IN A KOREAN DRAMA: Born in Colour retails furniture that is made in South Korea, which Mr Chua says is practical, space-saving yet built with a notion of fun; retro shelf cabinet (above).
LIVING IN A KOREAN DRAMA: Founders Mr Chua and Mr Tan.
CLEAR CHOICE: Signature glassware designs at Villeroy & Boch's flagship store will include the classic and luxurious collections Grand Royal and Octavie, as well as the timeless Purismo (above)and Allegorie series.
COSMOPOLITAN LIFESTYLE: Mr Villeroy says Singaporeans, expatriates and tourists are familiar with the Villeroy & Boch brand.
COSMOPOLITAN LIFESTYLE: Pieces from the Samarkand Mandarin collection.
BED AND BATH COLLECTION: Ms Johnson expects a range of customers to buy John Lewis products - expatriates who are already familiar with the brand, as well as shoppers who want high quality products that are still affordable; Egyptain cotton towels.
BED AND BATH COLLECTION: Agapanthus grey bedding (above).
EUROPEAN FLAVOUR Ms Koh (above) brings in only renowned brands that have years of presence in the industry with great testimonials and distinctive identities.
EUROPEAN FLAVOUR: Leolux (above) from the Netherlands; and Paola C from Italy.
EUROPEAN FLAVOUR: Flexa from Denmark; hülsta, Kymo and now! By hülsta, all from Germany.

Decor delights

Unique offerings by these new outfits will give pleasant selection headaches to homeowners seeking furniture and fittings.
Jul 25, 2015 5:50 AM

For The Common Goods

28 Kallang Place, #05-01

By appointment only Tel:6908-5049

HE studied electrical engineering, while she read law, but a common appreciation of good design led married couple Tommy Huang and Angeline Tng to start a furniture/homeware store called For The Common Goods.

Mr Huang is still working as a project manager, while Ms Tng runs the store on top of being a stay-at-home mum.

"We dreamed of curating and creating thoughtfully designed products but never quite knew how or where to begin," says Ms Tng. The opportunity came when they saw and fell in love with Studiohiji's Pretzel Bench. "We loved its form, narrative and the beauty in its simplicity," says Ms Tng. The bench was showcased at the International Furniture Fair in 2011 but it was only the next year that the couple met its Indonesian designer Abie Abdillah.

"We somehow managed to convince Abie to let us take home that very pretzel bench which he showcased here, and which now sits proudly in our dining room," says Ms Tng. "Abie was keen to reach out to the Singapore market and we were keen to harness our collective design sensibilities and turn our common interest into something more. So we bit the bullet and started For The Common Goods."

For The Common Goods is the exclusive distributor of Studiohiji's products in South-east Asia, except for Indonesia. Apart from the Pretzel Bench, another popular piece is the Eunos Lounge Chair, which is a modern take on the Papasan chair. The Bench retails for S$999, while the Lounge Chair is at S$799.

For the Common Goods also stocks products from PDM Brand (which is short for "Product Design Matters"). PDM Brand is a Bangkok-based design firm which works closely with local manufacturers and craftsmen to create mats. The mats are made using traditional weaving techniques but use high quality fibres from recycled and recyclable polypropylene. "We think that the contemporary design and functionality of the Mat Collection would appeal to the Singapore market. The colours of the mats don't run, and they are mold resistant, waterproof, allergy-free, making them tropical carpets," says Ms Tng. The carpets retail from S$129.

Ms Tng says that the design philosophies of Studiohiji and PDM Brand resonate with them, hence the decision to stock them. She adds that For The Common Goods is premised on two ideas - for the common good, and goods for the common folk.

The couple say they are drawn to the thought process that goes into creating a piece of furniture, from conceptualising, to designing, sourcing materials, and finally production. They also value sustainability - not just for the environment, but also for the industry, and thus wherever possible, they support new designers and small producers and craftsmen.

"Our desire is to bring furniture that are thoughtfully designed and sustainably produced closer to the common folk, not only in terms of its affordability, but also in bridging the gap to enable people to have a better appreciation of good product design and craftsmanship," says Ms Tng. "By seeking out considered creations that support small producers and craftsmen, we hope that through collaborative efforts, a greater common good can be achieved and shared by designers, producers, craftsmen and consumers."

Dramatic flair

The Laurence Collection for Courts

Available at all Courts stores

HE IS head judge and style arbiter of the home decorating TV reality series The Apartment. Now homeowners can deck out their abode with pieces designed by Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.

The English designer, whose branded products appear in Littlewoods, John Lewis and Harrods, has collaborated with Courts to design an exclusive range of furniture and home accessories, changing the perception that well-made and trend-leading designer furniture needs to be expensive.

The Laurence Collection for Courts comprises 14 sofas in a variety of configurations and two armchairs, including a commemorative piece to celebrate Singapore's 50th birthday, the SG50 Cocktail.

True to Mr Llewelyn-Bowen's flair for the dramatic and passion for lush, ornate detailing, each piece in the collection is bold, fashionable and a conversation starter. The pieces come in a range of styles, from slick monochromatic shapes to intricate floral prints and stately Chesterfields finished in rich purple-hued velvet. Prices range from S$1,999 to S$2,950 for a three-seater sofa.

The Laurence Collection for Courts draws inspiration from a number of places, including a traditional British home, the stylish opulence of the 1920s and in the case of the SG50 piece, the jetsetting glamour that has characterised Singapore's meteoric rise as a vibrant metropolis over the last 50 years.

Mr Llewelyn-Bowen says: "Singapore's rapid development, constantly evolving landscape and multicultural identity is hugely inspiring. I find myself deeply fascinated by the juxtaposition of colourful Peranakan shop houses and heritage homes beside soaring contemporary skyscrapers and the dazzling nightlife."

The House of Laurence also has a collection of home accessories such as picture frames, lush scented candles and plush cushion covers.

Terry O'Connor, CEO of Courts Singapore, says: "Furniture shoppers are becoming increasingly design-savvy and we see more of our customers willing to experiment with bright colours and interesting textures. Many are now especially inclined towards creative, statement pieces that allow them to bring a stronger sense of their personalities into their homes. Laurence's bold take on design in his new collection with Courts is a welcome option for customers who want to venture beyond the minimalist aesthetic at accessible price points."

Compact fit

Born in Colour

1024 Yishun Industrial Park A #02-37

By appointment only, Tel: 9009-3586

MOST homeowners would be familiar with Japanese designed furniture. They are usually compact in size, to fit small homes in Japan. But increasingly, South Korean furniture is designed for compact homes as well.

Born in Colour retails furniture that is made in South Korea. "Homes in Seoul are compact and getting smaller and we see this very similar trend in Singapore. Furniture built for Koreans are practical, space-saving yet built with a notion of fun. Thus, we hope to bring them to Singapore homes too," says Robin Chua, one of the three co-founders. The other two are Mr Chua's friends Roy Tan and Linus Loy.

Born in Colour was started when the three of them were looking for bespoke furniture pieces to furnish their homes. "We had a tough time searching for the right furniture that suited our ideal style, and even if we did, the pricing was out of our range. Hence, we took it upon ourselves to set up something that we all love and to bring in furniture that is of good quality, affordable and unique at the same time," says Mr Chua.

While on holiday in South Korea, they came across furniture that was being sold at the stores. "We liked the quality, and feel that their designs are suited for the Singapore market," Mr Chua says. "Our range of furniture now includes, but is not limited to Scandinavian, retro, vintage, and industrial styles."

The trio began planning for Born in Colour early last year, and opened their furniture studio in December.

Most of its customers are first-time homeowners, who live in high rise housing.

Popular pieces are usually retro and vintage-inspired ones, such as the retro side rack which works as a display case, the retro five-tier shelving cabinet and the Macaron family of display/storage cases. Prices range from S$39.90 for a Macaron storage box, to S$285 for the side rack and S$1,085 for the cabinet.

Eagle-eyed Korean drama fans will be able to spot some familiar pieces. For example, in the comedy/romance drama, Emergency-couple, a scene features some Macaron boxes, a retro study desk and the shelving cabinet.

"If you have ever wondered what it is like to live on the set of a Korean drama, come to our studio and we can show you," says Mr Chua.

Outstanding European style

Villeroy & Boch Singapore

15 Stamford Road, #01-74/76 Capitol Piazza

Opening hours: 10.30am to 10pm daily

FANS of European premium brand Villeroy & Boch will now be able to buy its famed tableware, flatware, glassware and giftware in a proper store. The 267-year-old brand is opening a store at Capitol Piazza, which will be its flagship store for Asia.

The 1,500 square foot store will stock a curated collection of items such as the classic tableware range, which includes the Amazonia Anmut, Samarkand Mandarin, and La Classica Contura, as well as contemporary pieces from the Country Decors range.

Signature glassware designs include the classic and luxurious collections Grand Royal and Octavie, as well as the timeless Purismo and Allegorie series. Meanwhile, colourful vases such as Verso, Nek, Numa and Tiko bring both decorative and functional elements to every home.

Nicolas Luc Villeroy, head of the tableware division at Villeroy & Boch, says that Asia has been an important growth market for the brand.

"History and European style are outstanding attributes for the Asian consumers," says Mr Villeroy. "Singapore was chosen as part of the expansion plan (with this flagship store) as the country is well known for its cosmopolitan lifestyle, political stability and economic strength."

He adds that Singaporeans are well read and well travelled and are no strangers to many major European brands. In addition, Singapore also enjoys a large community of expatriates and tourists whom are familiar with the Villeroy & Boch brand.

Beyond Singapore, Mr Villeroy has big plans to expand the brand in the Asia-Pacific region. "We expect a strong increase of revenue within the years to come as the Asian market, and China in particular, are one of the focus markets of Villeroy & Boch," he says. He has set his sights on Thailand, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and Australia. Villeroy & Boch is present now in over 20 major cities with "The House of Villeroy & Boch" showrooms, the most important instrument for brand awareness.

To date, there are 167 stores worldwide, and Singapore is its latest. Prices range from S$73.95 for a mug to S$175 for a plate and S$329 for a teapot.

"Singapore is an important spot as it is the city where our APAC headquarters is located. Moreover, the character of the store is a flagship store that is accessible and visible from the well-frequented street by passing customers," says Mr Villeroy. "This provides a particular advantage compared to other locations where the stores are situated within the mall."

Trusted and loved

John Lewis

Available from Robinsons Heeren, Raffles City and Jem stores

Opening hours: 10.30am to 10pm daily

FANS of John Lewis, UK's largest department store retailer, will now be able to buy its products in Singapore, instead of having to them online and waiting for them to be shipped over.

The trusted and loved British brand, which started in 1864, has partnered Robinsons to set up shop-in-shops at all its three outlets in Singapore.

In the UK, it has 44 stores, and some of its products are also sold in Shinseage, a chain of department stores in South Korea, and in SM department stores and Our Home stores in the Philippines.

"The success of John Lewis in Shinseage gave us the encouragement that there is a market for our products outside of the UK," says Katie Jordan, head of international development at John Lewis.

Unlike in its UK stores, which also carry products from other brands, only John Lewis-exclusive products will be available in Robinsons.

Ms Jordan is confident that shoppers in Singapore will take to the brand. She says that Singapore is one of the top 10 markets for its online sales. She expects a range of customers to buy John Lewis products - expatriates who are already familiar with the brand, as well as shoppers who want high quality products that are still affordable.

For its range in Singapore, over 50 per cent of the items are from its bed and bath collection.

"We have the most expertise in this range, so it is an obvious choice to bring it to Singapore," says Ms Jordan "Regardless of where you are, people always need something for the bed and bath."

She speaks highly of the Platinum Suvin towels, which are known for its silky smoothness and durability and high absorbent performance.

The Egyptian cotton range of bedlinen too, gets the thumbs-up. The sizes of the sheets are exclusive to Singapore. "We specially made them to fit the beds here," says Ms Jordan.

On the decorative front, popular pieces include its range of cushions, as well as other decorative items. This season's palette are muted colours, which Ms Jordan says will fit in with any style of homes. There will be no Britannia-style products, because Ms Jordan doesn't think the market here will want it.

Prices for John Lewis items range from S$45 for an Egyptian cotton bath towel to S$399 for a bedspread.

Christophe Cann, managing director of the Robinsons Group, says: "With over 150 years of history each, we are established household brands trusted and loved by generations of customers. John Lewis Home & Living is a perfect complement to our carefully curated home and lifestyle departments."

A story behind every piece


Blk 71 Loewen Road, #01-02

Opening hours: 10am to 7pm

ENTERING the MÖBEL Story showroom is like entering someone's home. It is set in a former army barracks among lush greenery. You can't help but want to linger longer to look and try out the furniture.

The 4,000 square foot store features six renowned European brands - Flexa from Denmark; hülsta, Kymo and now! By hülsta, all from Germany; Leolux from the Netherlands; and Paola C from Italy.

Koh Gim Yen, its director, says: "The opening of the flagship concept store is a huge step forward for MÖBEL Story. Not only will this mark the first time we're bringing in five other renowned European brands into the Singapore market besides Flexa, it also signifies the expansion of our business to accommodate a wider and more varied range of customers."

MÖBEL Story was formerly known as homegrown furniture company Hi Ko, which was the sole dealer for Flexa in Singapore for nearly a decade.

Ms Koh explains that the name change is in line with the company's expansion plans to take up dealerships with more European furniture brands. MÖBEL means "furniture" in German and so MÖBEL Story means "furniture story". "The slogan of 'A story behind every piece' simply means that we believe there's always a story to share behind each piece of furniture we bring in," says Ms Koh.

Flexa is a well-known kids' furniture brand; hülsta is known for its timeless pieces; Kymo is well-known for its carpets, while Leolux prides itself for creating products using a combination of traditional craftsmanship and technology, while being sustainable.

Rounding up the list, pieces by now! by hülsta have a playful feel to them and are more for younger homeowners; while home accessories from Paola C, such as its ceramic vases, are practical, elegant and poetic.

Ms Koh says that the company's market positioning targeted at the high nett worth and purveyors of lifestyle and furniture are what makes them different from the rest. "I'm particular about design, quality and craftsmanship. I bring in only renowned brands that have years of presence in the industry with great testimonials and distinctive identities," she says. "My flair for fashion, art and design also helps me in choosing the specific designs, models and furniture that I feel will suit the market in Singapore."

She adds: "I'm confident that these furniture items will be well-received by the ever-growing group of discerning furniture buyers in Singapore."