Artisanal carpenters are rewriting the rules of woodworking, crafting top-drawer furniture with bespoke designs in their backyard. Here are the seven names to watch.
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You may have walked into Buku Fixi, MONO.KL and Nomad @ Empire Café and lingered around one or two pieces of their fancy furniture. Those are from Bawang Studio and they’re good looking all right – handsome furnishing that doesn’t distract from the products, but subtly contribute to the store’s cool vibe.
Bawang Studio has a knack like that – they provide interior design services and custom-make furniture suited to a client’s space and needs. Managers Mustakim Ismail and Haziq Mahpuz (together with a group of designers) will be launching Bawang Runcit soon, a platform for design consultations as well as a place to procure ready-made furniture and home decor.
Follow their work on www.facebook. com/bawangstudio
Rizal Sufar and his nephew Izat Arif began their crusade into woodworking by creating a platform for local artisans, regardless of background and skills, to convene and bounce ideas off each other. Putting their heads together, the nonconformist collective – whose first project was to create a signage for Yasmin Ahmad’s tribute in Ipoh – has turned upcycled pallets and wood into stools, benches, desks, shelves and tables for a clientele consisting of café owners, restaurateurs and even corporate offices.
Cop this: Alphabet shoe rack
The Kedai empire has branched out to a café called Kedai Sebelah, a place for homecooked food and live gigs. Family member Afiq Iqbal used to run it before moving on to Kecil by Kedai at Lorong Kekabu. Rizal and Izat still resort to traditional hand-drawn sketches when designing their work but ‘contemporary’ design is definitely their way forward.
It was all a side hustle at first, but the husband-and-wife team behind Porniture went full steam after orders started flooding in via their Instagram page. We can’t keep our eyes off their cat cages, cat ‘banglo’, cat tree and cat wall (your furkid will finally love you) – all mostly made from recycled pinewood. The founders only started their woodworking business two years ago but they’re already gaining a steady stream of customers lusting over their wardrobe embellished with pipes; pallet sofas; and of course, those cutesy cat paraphernalia.
Cop this: Cat 'banglo'
Follow their work on www.facebook.com/porniturewoodwerk
Passion, and a desire to showcase the different types of local wood to the world, prompted two former schoolmates, Daniel Salehuddin and Khairul Asyraf, to get their woodworking business on its feet. The duo was working on a kufic art project for their newlywed friend, and they developed an interest in woodworking along the way.
Cop this: Herringbone-patterned furniture
A business idea was immediately hatched – Daniel and Asyraf (together with manager Fiqkri Ismail who joined them last year) began to construct furniture using local materials such as meranti, nyatoh, kasah, balau and resak, producing long-lasting goods like their best-selling herringbone-patterned dining table. Fine Grit is already looking at a factory for mass production, but a café or a residential area with their stamp on it isn’t a dream too far away.
Keramat-based Zulkefli Ali and his brother Muhammad Khairul Ali pride themselves on precision and the proof is in the name of their three-year-old venture: ‘4 inci 3 hun’ is a traditional Chinese style of measuring, well known among the older generation of carpenters.
Cop this: Pyramid coffee table (a highly sophisticated piece that involved numerous mathematical calibrations
Most of ZVW+4INCI3HUN’s designs have a rustic undertone, and you’ll find their style splashed across edgy establishments like the multi-purpose lifestyle space, The Garage KL. The brothers have a penchant for reclaimed and new pine wood but they’re looking to experiment with chengal soon.
Follow their work on Facebook: 4 inci 3 hun
Woodworking has always been Nolin Teh’s interest but raw talent has definitely given her passion-turned-career a leg up. A full-time mother, Nolin wasn’t going to sit in a cubicle with a steady paycheck after graduating with a Bachelor of Hospitality in 2011.
Cop this: Hexa stool
Harnessing her passion in woodworking, the self-taught artisan gained fame for her geometric-patterned dining table, coffee table, desk lamps and hexagonal stools. Her clients love them, and so did New York Magazine, which featured her cartwheel lamp in their ‘Best Bets’ article in September last year.
Follow her work on www.facebook.com/nolintehcarpentry
‘Rustic’ and ‘DIY’ are the latest catchphrases for today’s wedding. And you’ll find plenty of Pinterest-driven decor like wedding arches, cake stands, pergolas and signage at Random Bean that shirk the formality but still offer a sense of elegance. Founder Jon Ming initially wanted to make an iPad stand out of a fallen tree trunk in his neighbourhood, but upon discovering the beauty of the natural wood, he and his fiancée Q-Pei decided to explore other possibilities with the trunk through inspirations from Pinterest.
Their creations, mostly fashioned from repurposed wood, have since included the ‘Have a Cuppa’ side table (pictured) sold at DESIGNation and, most recently, an art piece called ‘Concrete Jungle’. Random Bean also does custom jobs but their range of wedding decor is mostly available for rent.
Random Bean currently uses Instagram as point of contact. Check them out at www.instagram.com/randombeanmy