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On The Ground At IFFS

We hit the halls of the International Furniture Fair Singapore 2018 this week, picking up some interesting narratives along the way.

On The Ground At IFFS

Nathan Yong and the P.O.P.U.P Collection (with Superstructure)


March 9th, 2018

The International Furniture Fair Singapore 2018 (IFFS 2018), co-located with the 35th ASEAN Furniture Show and NOOK Asia 2018, is on show at Singapore Expo from 8-11 March. The show feels smaller this year, and it is, with 374 exhibitors from 26 countries as opposed to the 428 exhibitors from 35 countries in 2017.

But with their announcement on the opening day that 2019’s show will move to Marina Bay Sands (Sands Expo and Convention Centre), the organisers are apparently hoping to attract a new wave of international interest.

What will that mean for the variety of exhibitors? We’ll see next year, but this year saw a mind bogglingly vast spectrum from the trade oriented to the high end.

As we navigated our way through the four halls, we stopped to chat with exhibiting friends and admire some of the most refined displays.


Carte Blanche
Inspiration From Abroad

There was no missing ‘Carte Blanche’ – an exclusive showcase of high-end, international brands presented by TANKE.LONDON and curated by Chantal Hamaide – founder of French design magazine Intramuros. They teamed up with ARRO Studio (a multi-disciplinary design agency based in Paris but with activities across the globe), who managed the scenography and artistic direction.

Said ARRO Studio founders Erik Arlen and Ludovic Roth, “Indeed, we are particularly glad about this opportunity! The ‘Little Red Dot’ boasts a vibrant design scene, and its fast pace and cultural setting have attracted our attention for some time now, so we were delighted when IFFS approached us.”

Brands from China, Denmark, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Singapore and Spain are being shown, with the selected pieces adhering to the theme of ‘New Traditions’: Bensimon, Coédition, Designerbox, Maison Fragile, Moustache, Petite Friture, Pierre Frey, Sammode, Varian by Culture In, and Versant Edition (France) ; Studio GGSV x EGE (France x Denmark) ; Colos and Maxdesign (Italy) ; Elliptic Circle (Hong Kong) ; Sancal and Treku (Spain) ; Studio MVW (China); and Grafunkt (Singapore – on display was the Star Wars | Grafunkt collection of stools/side tables).


P.O.P.U.P Collection By Nathan Yong In Collaboration With Superstructure
A New Take On Manufacturing In Singapore

Nathan Yong teamed up with ‘unconventional build lab’ Superstructure to explore digital fabrication for a modular, flat-packed furniture line made with a new-gen coloured MDF. Says Yong, “The process is very easy. We laser cut the panels and just pop each piece in. There’s no labour to sand it or shave it, so it’s a very efficient form of furniture production. And I think this stems from Singapore being a very high-tech country with high labour costs and high rental costs. This is how furniture should be produced in Singapore I think – using technology and flat packing.”

The modular design allows for a great flexibility of use. “You can use it as a coffee table, a side table, a stool, a layered shelf, a TV console, a screen – it depends on how creative the user is,” says Yong.

But why MDF, we ask, given the health risks we remember from working with it in our school days? Says Eshton Chua, a designer at Superstructure: “P.O.P.U.P is made with Forescolour, which is made with organic dyes and glues, which reduces the amount of formaldehyde to the lowest in the industry so far.”

He adds, “Typical MDF is made purely from compressed wood dust. In this case, in the process of compresisng it, they add organic dyes to create the colour. It makes the colour homogeneous as opposed to the typical spray painting. Forescolour is also a lot more water resistant than the usual MDF because of the techniques used to create it. It doesn’t swell up.”


The Italian Hospitality
Presenting The Prowess Of Italy

We spotted Giulio Cappellini zipping through the halls and overseeing the perfection of the stand he curated for OGS. Titled ‘The Italian Hospitality’, the presentation of multiple Italian brands returned after its first showing last year to communicate the characteristics of the ‘New Made in Italy’. In the words of OGS, that equates to elegance, quality research, a dialogue between excellence and technology, and the continuity of great artisanal tradition. 

“A great novelty of the 2018 setting,” Giulio Cappellini explained, “is the emphasis on ceramic, one of the Made in Italy [forms of] excellence. It’s used for lining and floors but also as a decorative furnishing element. But that’s not all: bathroom sets, technology for wellness, lighting systems, etc. No other country succeeds in offering such a wide range of opportunities [as] Italy.”

Brands displayed included Cappellini, Cedit, Faorim, Giovanardi, Icone Luce, La Murrina, Olympia Creamiche, Tonalite, VismaraVetro, and Wave Murano Glass.


Jarrod Lim With American Hardwood Export Council
Customising Production Regionally

Lim has been collaborating with the Council for around ten years, and this year they present a new Thermally Modified Timber (TMT) via new indoor-outdoor furniture pieces by Lim. “This is a special type of wood being shown in Singapore for the first time,” Lim explains. “In short, indoor wood is put in a kiln at a certain temperature for a certain length of time, and then cooled down slowly at a certain speed. It cooks out all the sugar and makes it more durable. The TMT becomes rot and bug resistant.”

“This is a new technology – well it’s not widely utilised yet because not many people have the correct kiln that can do it. The factory I used in Indonesia to produce the furniture here is the only one that has this kiln in that country,” he adds. The furniture – a table and stool set, and a lounge and coffee table – was inspired by boatbuilding. “I’ve been doing a lot of interior design for boats recently, so I’ve been looking at rudders and masts,” says Lim.

Although he still designs for some European companies, Lim manufactures and distributes much of his furniture independently. “Interior designers and architects in Singapore are let down a little bit by the quality of custom production they can get done. Even if they go to Indonesia, it can be done but not always reliably,” he comments. As such, he’s been offering production services to interior designers – assisting them with having bulk orders of products manufactured to the standards they require.


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