[dropcap size=small]F[/dropcap]ans of WOHA architecture firm can not only live in homes designed by it, but will soon be able to sit on its furniture, and dine using its tableware too. The award-winning firm, founded by Wong Mun Summ and Richard Hassell recently gave a sneak peek of WOHAbeing, its collection of furniture, lights, carpets, accessories, table and bathware.
WOHAbeing will be launched at Maison&Objet Paris in September. Maison&Objet is the biannual trade show for the high-end design and luxury industry which takes place every January and September.
The firm is known for projects such as public housing Skyville@Dawson, Parkroyal on Pickering and Oasia Downtown hotels and the School of the Arts.
On occasions, the firm has created bespoke furniture pieces for clients. “We thought of retail, but never got around to doing it,” says Hassell. “The opportunity to work with Maison&Objet was the push.”
Last year, WOHA was named Designer of the Year for the Asian edition of Maison&Objet in Singapore. Unfortunately, after three editions, organiser Salons Francais Et Internationaux (SAFI), decided to put the 2017 and 2018 editions on hold.
Philippe Brocat, managing director of SAFI, said in an earlier interview that the Asian show was “stymied by the dearth of European brands willing to exhibit here as they want to concentrate on the European market, amid a sluggish global economy.”
WOHAbeing was to be launched at the Asian show in March, but will now make its debut at the Paris show instead. The cancellation of the Asian show turned out to be a blessing in disguise. “We now have more time to work on the collection, and have created more pieces than we originally planned for,” reveals Hassell.
The collection of 37 items was conceptualised, designed and manufactured within five months. WOHA worked with various manufacturers from Singapore and overseas on the collection.
For the last 22 years, Maison&Objet successfully facilitated numerous partnerships between designers and businesses. For WOHA, they were instrumental in finding the firm the right partners to work with.
From Singapore, the firm collaborated with Apaiser for its bathware, Industry+ for its outdoor furniture, The Rug Maker for carpets, Luzerne for tableware and Wonderglass for lighting. “Most of these collaborators are new to us,” says Hassell.
WOHAbeing will be shown in its own pavilion. All the products will be ready for orders at the show. Sales will be done through the individual manufacturers. “We see WOHAbeing as a brand, not a retail outlet,” explains Wong. “The manufacturers have the ability to tap onto a larger market than we can.”
The firm took inspiration from Singapore’s culture as well as its past projects to create the collection. For example, the Red Turtle Chair was inspired by sea turtles, and the Crab Chair was inspired by hermit crabs that the founders saw when they were working on a project in Bintan. Wong explains that WOHAbeing is about “living well by living simply and sustainably. It is about making and craft, balance and proportion and about texture, colour and form”.
Prices have yet to be determined, but Wong says that they were designing for all groups of people and budgets.
Besides WOHA, the winners of the Rising Asian Talent Awards 2017 will also be exhibiting their works and meeting with the international design community at the September show.
The winners are ADesign Studio from Australia, Lim+Lu from Hong Kong, Jinggoy Buensuceso from the Philippines, Kamaro’an from Taiwan and Atelier 2+ from Thailand.
Brocart says that having the spotlight on the M&O Talent Awards Asia will “offer visitors an opportunity to meet and discover some of the best design talents from the Asia-Pacific, as well as to understand the multi-faceted creative landscape in one of the most exciting regions”.
He adds that “the Designer of the Year Asia and the Rising Asian Talents will demonstrate their ambitious capability from architecture to interior design, product design, and bespoke art and craft”.
Story first appeared on The Business Times.