Six years ago, Nala – which means ‘successful’ in Swahili and is named after Lisette’s daughter – began as a salmagundi of stationery, called ‘Pretty in Peranakan’. Since then, the handcrafted, locally-grown brand has expanded to include accessories, namely jewelry and tote bags, books, clothing for yoga, greeting cards as well as home decor and homeware: art pieces, cutting boards, kuih stools, napkins and the popular range of Nala pillows.
It’s an undersell and an understatement to describe Nala as a cultural gifts line; all of Nala embodies an Asian aesthetic but more than that, it draws its inspiration from Malaysian culture and customs, deconstructing and developing them into designs with a contemporary, timeless twist. ‘Pretty in Peranakan’ – still available today – is inspired by Nyonya ware, or Straits Chinese porcelain, from Jingdezhen in China; despite its distinctively ornate appearance, the ang paus and cards are illustrated with shapes that are stark and simple.
For more information, visit www.naladesigns.com.
‘The Great Indoors has never been shy about its Malaysian roots,’ says Kevin Lunsong, co-founder of the brand, which sources out heritage decor and vintage goods for contemporary uses. Since 2012, Kevin and Juwita Jalil have combated today’s commercial challenges through the championing of ‘tourism merchandise’, as Kevin terms it: supporting local artisans and businesses through the branding, designing, marketing, recrafting and reproduction of products. These products include a ’20s steamer suitcase, Dutch Baby condensed milk print blinds, and Indian matchbox print pillows. The Great Indoors also contributes work, design and supply to cafés like Butter + Beans At Seventeen, CoffeeSociété and Food Foundry. The business is currently based in Shanghai as the brand has begun expanding towards the European and North American markets, with projects in KL, Malacca, Penang and Singapore. Malaysia Boleh, right?
For more information, visit thegreatindoors.my.
Dumpster might seem like an unlikely name for an art gallery and store, but if the phrase ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ can be embodied in a name and space, this store is a fine example. Former ad man Romaizie Mustapha, also known as Rom, previously owned the vintage store Outdated (now known as Arcadia), but has decided to focus more on works inspired by local culture instead of vintage objects, which explains why most of the artworks featured are Malaysiana-inspired. One of the artists featured in the store is Kide Baharudin, who paints old Malaya of the ’60s in various settings. Other examples of works here include Amin Daud’s futuristic-looking prints of the Proton Saga and Oz Ishak’s poster of ’60s singer A Ramlie and Malaysia’s very own The Rhythm Boys.
Though they specialise in vintage furniture and homeware, Arcadia stocks a whole load of paraphernalia unrelated except that they’re all cool. Limited edition art prints lean against vintage cabinets, which are topped with typewriters, toys, models, stationery and miscellanea. Their proudest claim to fame is a clutch of refurbished vintage Eames chairs scattered throughout the store. Don’t worry if you don’t see anyone manning the till – they’re usually smoking on the balcony outside.