As someone who really, really likes flowers, its always a pleasure to receive them or to gift others. However it doesn’t mean I’m not cognisant of the fact that flowers have to be cut up for our own material purposes – some would say it’s better to simply admire them from afar if you truly care for them.
So what’s a flower-loving guy to do? A guileless option might be Ektory, a Singapore-based studio which specialises in paper art creations that typically take the shape of flowers. We first got acquainted with the studio when they painstakingly crafted a custom piece (it took more than 100 hours) for Female‘s January 2018 issue, and I have to say, it’s one of my all-time favourite works for the magazine.
Floral art crafted from paper is not entirely alien to fashion of course – the first example that comes to mind is Chanel‘s memorable Spring/Summer 2009 couture collection which saw the runway set and models bedecked in precise, laser-cut paper creations.
Since its inception in 2014, Ektory has grown to become a favourite with many luxury, beauty and lifestyle labels, with a diverse list of clients such as Andaz Hotel, Bvlgari, Delvaux, Cle de Peau and Gillman Barracks. Small wonder – the studio’s intricate paper creations are well-suited for social media and bonus: they can be reused after a presentation or event; it’s far more friendly to the environment compared to flowers that will wilt after a week or so.
Of course, they’re not only limited to executing projects for corporate projects – they also do weddings and similar celebratory occasions, such as the upcoming Valentine’s Day, and occasionally, workshops held in their studio where people can learn to make objects such as floral headcrowns fashioned out of paper.
We speak to Dawn Koh, Ektory’s founder, to find out how she got into the business.
Paper art is quite a niche craft, how did you first get into it?
I freelanced as an interior stylist. I decided not to pursue fashion which was my initial plan, due to the infamous long hours, and started out on my own after my husband proposed to me – at that time, everything changed even my mindset. I thought that when I have my own family, I would then have the flexibility to take care of and spend time with my kids. Doing a business out of paper art was simply a happy accident that began from a client’s request. I knew it would be hard work but it’s definitely different from what I expected. I started with little capital and didn’t have any background in business, couldn’t afford to hire at first and had to handle most things myself. At the same time, I held a part-time job to sustain my business expenses. Building a company from scratch, having to wear multi hats and then hiring people and managing a team – these require huge commitment not only in terms of monetary but also especially in time, physical and mental attention. I am still in the process of working on making the business more self-sustainable.
Remember the wedding client whom I mentioned who requested a paper flower wall? Turns out she works in a fashion company – she loved the wall and recommended us to her colleagues in the fashion industry who then approached us for subsequent projects.
I can’t put my finger on one. There are too many memorable stories. The best ones are where we build relationships with customers who tell us they love our works, trust in us to create something for their personality and marry both our brands’ interests. I love doing corporate clients campaign launches where you can see our creations line up in different forms in just one campaign – press kit, photo backdrop, live demonstrations, workshops and decor for example. The fluidity is very comprehensive and satisfying to watch – examples being projects we have done with Lady M and Delvaux.
Our set designs typically range from 100-400 hours to craft. For Andaz, we conceptualised and designed two areas in the hotel simultaneously and it all took about 150 hours.
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