Singapore names at Maison & Objet Paris

Furniture from prestigious design fair to go on sale in Singapore

The Singapore designs that went on show at the recent Maison&Objet Paris fair are available for sale back here

Fresh off their debuts at the prestigious interior design fair at Maison&Objet Paris last week, three Singapore design studios and makers will return to showcase their wares on home turf.

Award-winning architecture firm Woha will exhibit Wohabeing, a 39-piece series - these items are divided into six collections - that includes furniture, lighting, rugs and bathware, at the National Design Centre in Middle Road at the end of the year.

Designed by Woha co-founders Wong Mun Summ, 55, and Richard Hassell, 50, some pieces were inspired by their travels while others were drawn from the extensive lookbook accumulated from their 22 years of making bespoke designs for their clients.

The sunny island of Bintan was the muse for the Turtle chair series, which has a dining chair, an easy chair and a lounge chair sporting flipper-like armrests.

The Sampan collection features bathtubs and sinks modelled after the traditional flat-bottomed wooden boats. Prices start at €848 (S$1,360).

Another Singapore-based design company returning with new products is Industry+.

At Maison&Objet Paris, it showcased a collection of chairs designed by home-grown firm Studio Juju and Japanese designers Jun Yasumoto and Keiji Takeuchi.

Architecture firm Woha co-founders Richard Hassell and Wong Mun Summ put out Wohabeing, a 39-piece series which includes the hanging Oli44 lighting system, from the Oli collection, and Ulu Centric Dining Table (both above), from the Ulu range.

Titled Take A Seat, the series uses simple materials such as wood and metal and is crafted with traditional production techniques such as wood bending.

Prices start at US$220 (S$296) for Mr Takeuchi's Wimbledon, powder- coated steel-frame stools that were inspired by the highchairs of tennis umpires.

The entire collection can be viewed at the Industry+ showroom in Tyrwhitt Road.

Meanwhile, home-grown company The Rug Maker has brought back Supertextures, a collection of woven rugs by Tiffany Loy.

Ms Loy, 30, who is trained in industrial design and studied at a textile school in Kyoto, mixed natural fibres such as wool, cotton and paper yarn in her creations.

Prices for a 1.6m by 2.3m rug range between $1,000 and $1,400 and can be ordered from The Rug Maker, which has a showroom in Lower Delta Road.

Mr Melvyn Khong, 30, sales manager at The Rug Maker, says his booth drew attention from architects and hospitality players.

They were attracted to the rugs' "durability and easy maintenance compared with hand-tufted carpets", he says.

"The buyers were surprised that the rugs were designed in Singapore, though the collection had a Nordic look."

Since it started 22 years ago, Maison&Objet has become one of the best interior design trade fairs in the world and the selection process for exhibitors is stringent.

Designers, architects, retailers and hospitality players from around the world flock to Paris twice a year in January and September to soak up the latest trends.

Also part of the Wohabeing series, the Crab Chair (above) is featured under the Bintan collection. PHOTOS: MAREK SWOBODA PHOTOGRAPHY, WONG JING WEI

Woha's architects were particularly excited to show their first furniture line in the French capital, especially after their Singapore launch at Maison&Objet Asia was cancelled in November last year.

Maison&Objet started in Singapore in 2014, but had to go on hiatus from this year because not enough European brands were committed to taking part.

Last year, fair organiser Salons Francais Et Internationaux (Safi) had designated Woha Designer of the Year for the 2017 Maison&Objet Asia edition.

The accolade meant that the firm would have put on installations or exhibitions about its work in prime spots at the show and taken the opportunity to launch Wohabeing.

The buyers were surprised that the rugs were designed in Singapore, though the collection had a Nordic look. ’’

MR MELVYN KHONG, sales manager at The Rug Maker, on the reaction of visitors at Maison&Objet Paris to the home-grown firm’s woven wares

Together with another international designer, Woha was also supposed to conduct MasterCrit sessions where participants will present their design concepts and receive feedback from them.

But as the Singapore fair was scrapped, Safi offered Woha the option to launch its products in Paris instead.

While releasing Wohabeing in Singapore would have made a meaningful debut, Mr Hassell says the Paris fair allowed feedback from a more international crowd.

"Europe is still the global centre of the furniture industry," he says. "In Paris, we were getting inquiries from Americans, Australians, Chinese and South Americans - a very broad cross-section of the world. It showed that there's global potential for Wohabeing."

The Rug Maker's Mr Khong hopes that Maison&Objet will eventually make its way back to Singapore.

He says: "We don't have a design platform in Singapore, or even in Asia, that is of a similar level of what Maison&Objet can offer."

For now, it remains unclear whether the fair will return to local shores.

Ms Regina Chan, Maison&Objet's Asia Pacific director, says: "We still need to spend more time bringing confidence back to our European brands.

"But we're still focused on Asian designers and hope that Maison& Objet in Paris can also be a good platform for them.

"Just because we're not in Singapore now doesn't mean our connections have ended."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2017, with the headline 'Hot off Paris'. Print Edition | Subscribe