Looking at Scene Shang’s Beach Road and Raffles Hotel stores, it’s hard to imagine that the homegrown brand used to be just a small studio in Institution Hill a mere seven years ago.
Today, its contemporary Asian style is famous among design lovers not only in Singapore but worldwide as well, and it continues to grow from strength to strength.
Its signature modern luxury style with a nod to Asian heritage was something co-founders Pamela Ting and Jessica Wong discovered a demand for back in 2014 when one of Jessica’s interior design clients requested a contemporary Asian look and she was unable to find any furniture to match.
They began experimenting with incorporating elements such as Chinese brass knobs into modern furniture and when they discovered a demand for the style, they left their jobs and went to Shanghai in search of craftsmen who could produce what they wanted.
Although they faced challenges over the next few years, the brand has thrived and grown to command a presence on the global stage of luxury design. Pamela, also a director, talks about Scene Shang’s journey and how its philosophy has impacted the brand’s direction.
What does luxury mean to you and how does Scene Shang’s philosophy embody it?
Luxury is the ability to enjoy life. The Scene Shang philosophy has always been to enjoy the finer – but not necessarily more expensive – things in life, while drawing inspiration from our rich Asian culture and heritage. The ability to slow down and appreciate beauty, design, culture and heritage is a luxury.
How do you feel about your journey so far? What has changed and what has stayed the same?
When we first started, it was just Jessica and myself. A lot of the Scene Shang DNA is drawn from the things we enjoy and our way of life. This has not changed. What has changed is that, through this journey, we have influenced the people around us – our team, our families and friends, and customers – to join us in this slow appreciation of life, heritage and its beauty
Do you have any upcoming collaborations to share?
We are collaborating with an esteemed local designer on a furniture collection for urban homes that will represent the current era we are in, where sustainability and technology are important, while preserving our Asian heritage.
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What are the shopping trends you’ve witnessed since opening your latest store at the Raffles Hotel?
Before Covid, many tourists who visited our store appreciated the stories we tell as a brand, as well as the cultural elements and references that we put into our designs, and they wanted to have a part of it. So they purchased pieces they wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else in the world and had them shipped home.
What have been some of your favourite collaborations and why?
We love all our collaborations because they allow us to gain perspectives on what designers deem as Asian culture and beauty. One of the highlights, however, was our 2018 collaboration with Forest & Whale on a brass Chinese chess set. Made to order, it still holds a special place in our hearts because it is 100 per cent made in Singapore.
It tells the story of how our country has developed economically by combining the element of industrial manufacturing from local auto parts maker Hup Yick Engineering with the modern-day expertise of designers Wendy Chua and Gustavo Maggio of Forest & Whale.
The set was designed by Forest & Whale and made using Hup Yick machinist Mr Yee’s skills and machinery, and then retailed by Scene Shang to customers who appreciate the design, craft and way of life.
What are your plans to capture a larger regional and international market?
Our e-commerce store has gotten us great traction. Overseas customers buy online and have the products shipped to them. We will continue to grow this part of the business. We did plan in 2020 to go to trade shows overseas but the pandemic put that on hold. Once we can do that again, we will pick up from where we left off and grow internationally as well.
What do you think the future will be like for local design brands?
Local design brands are starting to come out stronger and offering more on a global level. We have a unique advantage as Singaporeans because of our roots in South-east Asian culture. We are also a forward and modern society that embraces progress and this is reflected in our Scene Shang designs. We recently became part of Made With Passion, a national initiative that celebrates local brands and the spirit of turning possibilities into reality.
Any other plans to further expand locally?
Locally, we continue to want more people to appreciate luxury and good living and that, to us, is expansion. We are also consolidating our resources to expand overseas in the near future.
For more information, visit www.sceneshang.com.
This article was originally published in Home & Decor.