Hong Kong-based furniture retailer How Furniture has opened a new showroom in Pasir Panjang, Singapore with a line-up of Japanese-made wooden furniture inspired by the Japanese concept wabi-sabi.
The new Singapore showroom carries more than 18 Japanese furniture and home accessory brands, eight of which are furniture brands such as Hirashima, a furniture designer and manufacturer with designs that are elegant and simple, but are also multi-functional and storage-saving; Masterwal, another furniture manufacturer that specialises in walnut wood species; Hashizume, which specialises in using camphor, a type of wood in Japan typically exclusive for temples; among other brands.
Visitors upon entering the showroom will be greeted with How Furniture’s catch-line, “A master piece [sic] of furniture will be part of your life, a treasure to next generation [sic]”, highlighting the retailer’s belief in slow furniture, sustainability, and furniture with history.
This emphasis on history is also shown in their preference for furniture inspired by wabi-sabi. The term wabi-sabi refers to the beauty of transience and imperfect.
Avoiding picture-perfect furniture with painted surfaces, veneers, or are digitally textured, How Furniture displays wooden furniture still with their ingrained knots and irregular grain patterns, that are able to tell a story through their imperfection.
For instance, one of their featured brands, Whiskey Oak from Nagoya, Japanese furniture brand reuses the oak barrels previously used in the production of Japanese whisky as their source material to create unique furniture pieces.
As a result of reusing wood from oak barrels, the craftsmen “preserve scratch marks, nail marks and texture on the surface of the whisky barrels”, according to the brand information provided by How Furniture, all while extending the lifespan of the material and reducing waste.
According to Jennifer To, the store manager of How Furniture, Singapore is the company’s first stop of expansion in South East Asia, as they see a “high demand for home and living products in this market”. They will expand to other South East Asian countries in the future.
How Furniture also emphasises on the high level of Japanese craftsmanship across their furniture brands, explaining that Japanese furniture craftsmen are careful and meticulous in the details they design in their furniture.
For example, one of the designers behind a Hirashima-brand dining table curved the table’s edges upwards such that when cups or bowls topple, the contents within them do not spill onto the floor, according to To.
Additionally, the dining table is crafted so that dining chairs can be hung over the table’s edges as well, allowing the household occupants to sweep or mop beneath the table without obstruction from the chairs’ legs.
A few of the furniture items, particularly from the Hirashima brand, also are space-saving or -storage, or modular solutions which can be adjusted. “Japanese condominiums are very small,” said To. “So storage is one of the issues that designers pay attention to when designing furniture [for Japanese homes].”
To also explained that the tables featured in How Furniture are “very sturdy”, because the Japanese craftsmen need to take into account the frequent earthquakes that happen across the country.
By making the tables sturdy, Japanese people can take cover underneath the table for safety, without worry of the table collapsing on them.
Threats from humidity
Solid wood furniture often face deformation issues after being in contact with water. This problem crops up especially in Singapore, where the air is typically humid.
To clarified that most of the furniture that How Furniture sells are not moisture-resistant by themselves. However, to help the furniture adapt to the climate, To advised that customers can apply a thin layer of varnish oil to the surface of the furniture item, which can help prevent moisture from entering the wood.
The oil needs to be applied once every 6-12 months, and can be bought in their showroom.