While home-grown fashion label Ong Shunmugam is best known for its Asian-inspired dresses and bold prints, 2019 had marked the brand’s first foray into the realm of lifestyle—a collection of luxury porcelain, cutlery and linens called Suvarnabumi, a Sanskrit word that translates to “land of gold”. This year, the brand has taken another dip into the home-decor pool with its first ever collection of furniture—all made from premium Malaysian rattan and a mix of Jacquard and batik fabric.
In the interiors world, the burgeoning popularity of rattan seen in the past year can be attributed to its organic, rustic character that seems made for Instagram. However, what sets Ong Shunmugam’s take on the material apart is the inventive pairing of rattan with vibrant fabrics sourced from Malaysia and Indonesia. Also unique are the combinations of differently-coloured natural and synthetic rattan found within individual pieces. These novel touches add an unexpected touch of drama to the collection (played up by a moody, foliage-filled look book styled by This Humid House), a quality rarely seen in rattan furniture. Some items—like a black chair crafted from natural rattan with a Jacquard upholstered backrest and a handwoven synthetic rattan seat—are hard to place in a singular category of design style, making them one of a kind originals.
“Most of our pieces have no template to build upon, meaning we had to draw the designs from scratch. We have also introduced the use of foreign elements, with fabrics like batik. The craftsmen are challenged to use innovative techniques to merge materials and structures together in ways that haven’t been attempted before,” says founder and designer Priscilla Shunmugam.
Comprising a dining table, chairs, various planters, a basket, and one particularly stunning double-sided room divider, the collection is handmade to order by veteran craftsmen in Malaysia. While pricier than other types of rattan found in neighbouring countries, using the locally-grown variant from Malaysia was a conscious choice. “Malaysia-harvested rattan is of a better grade than what you might get in Vietnam, China, or Philippines,” says Shunmugam. “Having a staff stranded in Malaysia due to pandemic restrictions also means that we can monitor production from start to end. This has allowed us to document bits of the process to share with our audience, hopefully enhancing their understanding and appreciation for what we personally feel is a hugely undervalued craft.”
Below, view every piece from the Singaporean brand’s inaugural, 12-item collection.
Available online or in store at Ong Shunmugam, 43 Jalan Merah Saga, 01-76, Singapore 278115