Canny collaborations: Nathan Yong

Mr Nathan Yong, a furniture designer and co-founder of Grafunkt at his two-storey terrace house located in Katong.

Award-winning designer Nathan Yong is no stranger to international brands, much less having his products displayed and sold overseas.

Some of his clients include Design Within Reach from the United States, France's Ligne Roset, Germany's Domicil, and Italian brands such as Living Divani, Opinion Ciatti and Sphaus.

His works have been exhibited in furniture shows held in Shizuoka, Milan, London, Koln and Taipei, and he's also appeared in international magazines such as Wallpaper, Monocle, Surface, Dwell and Habitus.

He is also the founder of Folks Furniture, which produces modern contemporary wooden furniture, and is also the co-founder of Grafunkt, a retail company that specialises in contemporary furniture brands.

His latest collection is done with Belgian brand, Ethnicraft, under the Nathan Yong label. Mr Yong says the collection, which includes dining tables, chairs, armchairs, and beds is a mix of metal and solid wood as key materials. "The idea is to get the best characteristics of each material to create a new archetype of furniture for the urban setting," says Mr Yong. "Think key words like utilitarian, industrial, military, urban and raw; and colours such as rust, dark green, mustard, cream, graphite and oak."

The collection will be produced in Europe, and distributed worldwide by Ethnicraft. It will be launched next year.

Elaborating on his choice of materials, Mr Yong says he likes wood for its tactile nature and warmth. "Our everyday activities revolve around wood - primarily as a raw material for furniture and products based on the unique characteristics, but there are so many other aspects to wood," he says. "Wood has a story to tell. Cultural tradition has been a matter of course to use timber as a raw material in buildings, structures, interior fittings, furniture and the manufacture of articles for everyday use."

Using skilled tradesmen with ideas and solutions he hopes to pass on their know-how and techniques to form the modern manufacturing processes of today with a mixture of metal.

"Part of the reason for this collection is also to create wooden furniture that is more sustainable. We don't have to use wood for every part. Metal can be a good substitute for structural strength and to save the precious wood for parts that are more visible," he adds.

Mr Yong feels that Singaporean designers "should not feel inferior about ourselves and should stop the colonial mindset. The rest of the world has moved on and has no baggage, so we should stop feeling inadequate."

This article was first published on June 13, 2015.
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