Fresh off the recent success of her inaugural series of porcelain tableware inspired by Southeast Asian vernacular culture, Singapore-based label Ong Shunmugam is now expanding on its Suvarnabumi homeware range with a new 12-piece collection centered around another material endemic to the region: rattan.
The collection comprises chairs, screens, standing planters, trays and even an exquisite dining table, with each piece crafted by hand in Malaysia using several locally grown rattan species. Rattan as a material has long been known to be durable and lightweight, hence its popularity around the region – though in Singapore, the trade has since faded away.
Upending the utilitarian connotations rattan is normally associated with, Shunmugam added its signature colourful touch through the use of some pretty lovely fabrics and materials, such as batik from Indonesia, jacquard from China and indigenous Iban weave patterns (for the chair seat).
“We tried our best to take a different path by ignoring the common references of rattan furniture and upping the design value and differentiation quotient in a way that feels instinctual to us. Most of our pieces had no template to build upon, meaning we had to draw from scratch and the craftsmen had to build from our drawings,” says the label’s founder/designer Priscilla Shunmugam.
“We also introduced the use of foreign elements like fabrics and batik in particular, and challenged the craftsmen with technically demanding requests to merge materials and structures together in ways that hadn’t been attempted before.”
The result of these seemingly incongruent elements made for quite the harmonious blend, no? The collection is available for pre-orders now, but you can check out these homeware pieces in person from now till Sept 26 at Atelier Ong Shunmugam at #01-76, 43 Jalan Merah Saga. Just remember to book an appointment before heading down.