Good interior design and renovation need not be expensive
When we think furniture designers, names like Philippe Starck comes to mind immediately. While Western names have certainly made their marks, their Asian counterparts are making small in roads into people’s living rooms too. These are five designers I have the fortune of coming across recently (I have personally met Li Naihan in her Beijing studio), each speaking a different language, but their art work speaks the common language of elegance, individuality, style, and practicality.
Li Naihan from China
The 80s not only gave birth to what is now the world’s largest economy, but also a bedrock of new generation of designers. Li Naihan, born in 1981, graduated from London’s Bartlett School of Architecture and went on to collaborate with world-famous (or infamous, if you ask the Chinese) artist Ai Wei Wei. But her CRATES series of mobile furniture is what put her on the radar of designers to look out for. CRATES won her a nomination for the 2012 Design of the Year Award by the Design Museum in London. I may be biased, but I think the next few decades will see more Chinese designs claiming the spotlight in your living rooms.
Kenneth Cobonpue from Philippines
You have probably seen his works before in movie sets such as Oceans 13 and CSI. Kenneth is a multi-awarded furniture designer and manufacturer from Cebu that you may have never quite heard of. A graduate of Pratt Institute in New York, he specializes in integrating locally sourced materials with innovative handmade production processes. Cobonpue’s brand is said to be favourites among Hollywood celebrities like Brad Pitt and members of royalty. In 2007, TIME magazine called him “rattans first virtuoso”. This is one name I need to remember now.
Naota Fukasawa from Japan
If you’re a Muji fan, you have probably seen Fukasawa’s works. A graduate of the Tama Art University, Fukasawa’s works features sleek designs in what he described as mundane objects – calculators, fans and umbrellas. One of his most successful pieces for Muji is the wall-mounted CD player that won the British D&AD award in 2002. But Fukasawa is not just a Muji designer, he collaborates with world renown brands Alessi and B&B Italia. Designer-ish items can be affordable too!
A native Singaporean, Hans is the local equivalent of Ai Wei Wei sans anti-government comments. Many adjectives comes to mind when you see his multitude of works: provocative, understated elegance, breaking moulds, upcycling, and the list goes on. He first Singapore Furniture Design Award in 2005 threw him into the limelight but reinvented himself and his works over the years to branch into artifact designs, material designs etc.
Bae Se Hwa
He may be the youngest among the five listed here, but shows immense potential. I especially liked the curves in his Steam series, so natural and so wonderfully made. I likened his furniture to a sculptural piece, flowing with its own aura, yet practical enough to meet our everyday needs. I hope he is not a one-hit wonder kid. Asia needs more talents like him.
Source: Bae Se Hwa