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Art Design Singapore Fashion Label Ong Shunmugam Launches its Rattan Furniture Collection

Singapore Fashion Label Ong Shunmugam Launches its Rattan Furniture Collection

Singapore Fashion Label Ong Shunmugam Launches its Rattan Furniture Collection
The Suvarnabumi range from Ong Shunmugam now includes furniture and home accessories handcrafted in rattan
By Hong Xinying
By Hong Xinying
September 18, 2020
Homegrown womenswear brand Ong Shunmugam makes further headway into the realm of home design with its colourful array of rattan furniture and homeware, launched as part of its Suvarnabumi collection. We offer the first look:

While many of us had mixed results at making the most of our time indoors, homegrown fashion designer Priscilla Shunmugam was remarkably productive; the founder of local fashion brand Ong Shunmugam designed her brand new rattan collection while in London during the Covid-19 lockdown period earlier this year.

Set to launch tomorrow on September 19, it’s also the first-ever furniture range by the brand. Comprising 13 pieces of furniture and home accessories, the collection includes armchairs, a dining table, decorative screen, baskets, trays and planters; all items will be available for pre-order on the Ong Shunmugam website.

(Related: Singapore Fashion Brand Ong Shunmugam Launches Suvarnabumi Tableware Line)

Shot by Ivan Tan and styled with botanical pieces from This Humid House, the selection from the Suvarnabumi collection from Ong Shunmugam includes armchairs, a table, a diver and various freestanding planters
Shot by Ivan Tan and styled with botanical pieces from This Humid House, the selection from the Suvarnabumi collection from Ong Shunmugam includes armchairs, a table, a diver and various freestanding planters

Crafted as a continuation of the Suvarnabumi home collection, these handmade rattan pieces are true to the designer’s eclectic style, celebrating both the beauty of the material and her love of patterns; Shunmugam had previously debuted her 11-piece tableware range last December.

“We tried our best to take a different path by ignoring the common references of rattan furniture and upping the design value and differentiation quotient in a way that feels instinctual to us,” says Shunmugam, of the new collection.

“Most of our pieces had no template to build upon, meaning we had to draw from scratch and the craftsmen had to build from our drawings. We also introduced the use of foreign elements like jacquard fabrics and batik in particular, and challenged the craftsmen with technically demanding requests to merge materials and structures together in ways that hadn’t been attempted before.”

(Related: Priscilla Shunmugam Of Ong Shunmugam Launches Diffusion Line, OM)

For this collection, the woven material is derived from the Rotan Manau, Rotan Mantang and Rotan Sega species from trees in Malaysia to create the rattan structure of each piece, while the striped binding sported on the armrests of the chairs are made with synthetic rattan from Indonesia.

The vibrant designs featured on the armchairs include traditional motifs inspired by batik prints as well as jacquard fabrics with floral patterns. The tactile mix of textiles also creates an original look that conveys the brand’s multicultural ethos.

The variety of rattan planters look almost certain to be a hit; available as freestanding units and hanging pots, which also taps onto the continuing popularity of indoor gardening here in Singapore.

(Related: Singaporeans are Growing More Plants and Urban Gardens, But is it All That Sustainable?)

Freestanding planters crafted in rattan from the Suvarnabumi home collection by Ong Shunmugam
Freestanding planters crafted in rattan from the Suvarnabumi home collection by Ong Shunmugam
Handcrafted in rattan sourced from Malaysia, this decorative tray features a motif inspired by batik textiles
Handcrafted in rattan sourced from Malaysia, this decorative tray features a motif inspired by batik textiles

It was significant for Shunmugum to utilise rattan as the primary material for this collection, particularly due to its artisanal heritage in Southeast Asia.

“Our rattan pieces are made in Malaysia, from locally grown rattan—this was a conscious decision because Malaysia-harvested rattan is of a better grade than what you might get in Vietnam, China, or the Philippines,” she says. “While labour costs are of course higher, having a staff currently stranded in Malaysia meant that we could monitor the production from start to end; it also allowed us to document bits of the process to hopefully enhance understanding and appreciation for a largely undervalued craft.”

The hoop planter from the Suvarnabumi home collection by Ong Shunmugam
The hoop planter from the Suvarnabumi home collection by Ong Shunmugam
An armchair and planter in matching tones
An armchair and planter in matching tones
Baskets from the Suvarnabumi home collection by Ong Shunmugam
Baskets from the Suvarnabumi home collection by Ong Shunmugam

Ultimately, Shunmugam hopes to celebrate the richness of the rattan-making artisanal tradition, while offering a creative take on the material.

“We spent some months trying to understand the many strands of the full picture—the cultivation of rattan, the manufacturing challenges but also the social importance of rattan to some of the most marginalised people of Southeast Asia. A combination of forest clearing and Western conservation practices are changing the industry on multiple levels, and it feels like we’re looking at both imminent biological and cultural loss; we felt that was potential for us to come in and contribute our design values to the industry.”

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Art & Design Tatler Homes furniture ong shunmugam design rattan

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