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T Suggests: Small-Batch Rugs, Personalised Faucets and Virgil Abloh’s Disruptive Furniture

By T: The New York Times Style Magazine Singapore

At Living DNA’s Tampines showroom, a splendour of rugs and textile homeware, sourced from small-batch weavers in Morocco, India and Turkey among others. At centre, founder Denise Kaur.
 
Living DNA
At Living DNA’s Tampines showroom, a splendour of rugs and textile homeware, sourced from small-batch weavers in Morocco, India and Turkey among others. At centre, founder Denise Kaur.

In Singapore, Small-Batch Rugs and Textiles Made by Craftspeople From Around the World

When former banker Denise Kaur set up her new home with her newly wedded husband, she was in a purgatory state of mind. Fresh from unshackling herself from a taxing corporate way of life, Kaur wiped her slate clean. Mindfulness, once a distant concept to her, was something she wanted to incorporate into her lifestyle — including in how she would decorate her house. That meant filling her home with homeware that wasn’t merely pleasing for the eyes, but also came with “a lot of soul or story to it,” as Kaur puts it.

What started as a self-reinventing sojourn ballooned into a much larger project. In 2015, Living DNA came to life. Its showroom, now headquartered in the industrial hub of Tampines, is a sunlit haven for homeware pieces — from woven rugs to ceramicware — that Kaur sourced from different parts of the world. 

“In the beginning, we worked with Indian craftspeople,” recalls the 31-year-old. “These craftspeople tend to have a long-standing relationship with other craftspeople in the country.” Kaur attended trade fairs, and whenever she travels, she makes it a point to chat up locals, learning more about their indigenous crafts. Her network grew, and soon enough, she established a constellation of artisans in the Himalayas, Morocco and Turkey among others, who hand-weave rugs, cushion covers, table runners in limited batches to dispatch to Living DNA.

“If you go to Mongolia, you’ll see that the rugs there will have clouds and the wide-open grasslands,” says Kaur. “The origin of the home rug was rooted in its function to warm the floors, the walls. But other than function, people have instilled their culture into it, too.” These cultural narratives, closely tangled with and distilled in each strand of yarn, pegged Kaur’s fixation with the supposedly humble rug.

Kaur would select pieces she gravitates towards, scouring warehouses from three in the morning. It’s only when she feels a solid form of connection with the artisans that she would cautiously proceed — ensuring fair wage and good working conditions — to develop the relationship further and collaborate with them on customised orders. “We stick to the way and materials these traditional weavers would use to make them, but at the same time, we always have in mind of the modern homes [the rugs would end up in],” she explains. For instance, in Kashmir, a mountainous region that borders the Himalayas, Kaur works with a group of craftswomen. Their native textile features bright and elaborate embroideries. “Instead of ordering directly what they would make, I would provide a cover inspiration, which would result in patterns that are less ornate yet still very much intact with their roots.”

Each textile design would typically be reserved for three to six pieces per size to cater to various sizes of the modern home. Bespoke rugs are available upon request, although they “would be done in the ancient way of making a rug,” says Kaur, emphasising the varied length of time required. “Everything would be made from scratch. The wool will be sourced [to match one’s need], the yarns will be dyed, sun-dried and weaved into a singular rug.”

Through these rugs, Kaur sees herself dispersing these untold stories of almost-forgotten crafts into people’s homes. After all, in this digitally charged time, a snug reminder of what the human hand is capable of should be more than welcomed. — Bianca Husodo

Visit Living DNA at 18 Tampines Industrial Crescent.

Personalised Faucets for the Modern Bathroom

AxorThe Axor MyEdition allows customisation of the body and plate of its taps in materials like marble, wood and leather.
The Axor MyEdition allows customisation of the body and plate of its taps in materials like marble, wood and leather.

Luxury German brand Axor has been creating designer faucets and showers for those in the know for decades. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the brand introduced the MyEdition collection at Salone del Mobile in Milan last year. Created in collaboration with Phoenix Design, MyEdition is available in four finishes: chrome with mirrored glass, chrome with black glass, satin black with black glass and brushed bronze. The clean, architectural design of the tap is the perfect canvas for the fully customisable body and plate, which can be decked out in materials as wide-ranging as leather, wood and marble — that have all been quality-tested for proven durability — for a truly unique, personalised tap to fit your design aesthetic, whatever it may be. — Renée Batchelor

Axor MyEdition collection.

Virgil Abloh’s Second Chapter in Furniture Design

IkeaVirgil Abloh x IKEA's Markerad collection features 15 statement pieces — from a backlit Mona Lisa artwork to an IKEA receipt rug — that echoed the ethos of fluid and contemporary living.
Virgil Abloh x IKEA's Markerad collection features 15 statement pieces — from a backlit Mona Lisa artwork to an IKEA receipt rug — that echoed the ethos of fluid and contemporary living.

Tapping into fashion’s multifaceted creative disciplines, Swedish furniture giant IKEA has collaborated with Virgil Abloh, CEO and founder of luxury fashion label Off-White to release the second chapter of their limited-edition furniture collection. Blending Abloh’s proclivity for high cultural references and his distinctive street cred together, the collection, which culminates after a series of small collaborations over the years, is tailored for the millennial generation who are transitioning into spaces of their own.

Entitled ‘Markerad’, the collection comprises 15 unique fashion-forward homeware pieces, which run the gamut from a day bed, chair, table, mirrors, bed textiles, lightings and more. Of which, the see-through Markerad glass door cabinet with its unique red, nail-shaped handle doubles as both a storage space and a display vault. In other words, a statement piece for those seeking to showcase their personality through the trinkets stored.

Minimalist and contemporary elements were also hallmarks of the collection as well. Take for instance, the Markerad chair. Fusing IKEA’s iconic minimalist design with an element of deconstructivism in the form of a door stopper, a quintessential trademark of Abloh’s design ethos, on one of the legs. In doing so, the Markerad chair, which was once a timeless contemporary furniture of the 1950s, becomes a disruption to the daily norm and is elevated from its mundane status. 

“When we put a doorstop on one of the legs of an ordinary chair, we create something unexpected – an interruption,” explains the celebrated provocateur, who is not afraid to aggregate designs. “It’s about elevating the anonymous, everyday icons that we use without noticing. The ethos of the collection is to add an artful quality to anonymous objects.” — Sng Ler Jun

IKEA c/o Virgil Abloh’s Markerad collection drops at IKEA stores on 31 October.