Grafunkt’s Nathan and Jefery on the art of curation and making space for oddity
When a prolific designer collaborates with a furniture aficionado, sparks fly. Multi-label furniture store Grafunkt turned all of 10 last year and co-founders Nathan Yong and Jefery Kurniadidjaja celebrated with another leap. The iconic brand moved home base to the new Funan mall, creating a spectacular concept store slash cafe that lives and breathes design. Much like Nathan and Jefery…
We caught up the innovative duo to chat about the subtle art of curation, what’s trending in 2020 and their big plans for the next decade.
What do you see as the biggest home decor trends for 2020?
“Accent colours; a subtle nod to retrospective eras that perpetuated bold colours and flamboyant silhouettes. Minimalism is a timeless style and is the ultimate go-to basis for homes, especially as a basis at least.
“However, it is growing apparent that the desire for character and individualism are being expressed in subtle but bold manners. This supposed irony is achieved by accentuating a neutral palette with a statement accessory or piece of furniture in a bolder colour.
“The little ‘oddity’ instantly injects a space with a little quirk and character that bodes especially well with the Singapore crowd that is typically more reserved.”
And what about luxury design?
Subtle throwbacks to classic trends of ’70s/’80s in terms of colour or silhouette, with a partial nod to the future.
“This seems like a lot of ideas but therein lies the beauty of luxury design as well; profound ideas entwined within simple structures.
“The world is getting increasingly complex and with growing consciousness and information, people are tired of the noise.
“This is especially important to furniture designs because furniture depicts the surroundings people are living in. So while people want to engage in meaningful conversations, to create more connection between tradition and modernity, it’s also important for the messages to be clear and non-abrasive. Furniture that encapsulates various perspectives in simple, clean lines is the best storyteller.”
Curation is hard work and it takes a special kind of skillset to do it right. How do you go about selecting brands and pieces to showcase at Grafunkt?
“Fundamentally, we always believe good design should be a careful balance between aesthetics and function. To accentuate this idea, quality in materials and the production process is an essential aspect of consideration in our curation process as well.
“We want to ensure that the furniture we pick to represent us is lasting and sustainable… a feature increasingly important in an age where we are gaining awareness about our actions and their impact on the environment.
“All the brands we picked represent quality, longevity and a sense of transcendence through generations… which runs parallel to our ideals. Say, for instance, Ligne Roset stands for class, sophistication, comfort and Conde House is dedicated to the finest details (corners and joints) in authentic craftsmanship. Let’s not forget Time&Style’s new and timeless designs that connect tradition with modern advancements.
“Additionally, Grafunkt has always had a spontaneous and on-the-ball streak. Whilst curation takes a lot of careful hard work, we find that a showroom is more amiable and accessible with a touch of candidness.
“So it helps that at Grafunkt, we constantly try to stay connected to our audience and clients, to be in touch with the changing trends and desires. We are constantly browsing the home and decor landscape, physically and digitally, making sure that each season improves on the last.”
Nathan, if you had to distil the essence of Folks and your creations into a few sentences, what would you say?
“Folks is a platform that enables designers and craftsman to collaborate, especially within the local SEA scene. The conversations and relationships behind a product are what tell its story, and what give Folks furniture its poetic essence. The organic and sustainable nature of wood also gives a better sense of rootedness to our culture and traditions.
“So actually Folks is not about pushing grand design schemes, but rather, preserving good woodworking from the East and giving it just a small updated silhouette for modern lifestyles.
“It is not about inventing the new wheel but rather bringing back old values (social, heritage and culture) and giving it a slight twist so that one still can sense a bit of the past, yet knowing it’s designed for a contemporary lifestyle.”
Big hurrah on Grafunkt’s 10th anniversary. What’s in store (figuratively and literally) for the next decade?
“We’re continually looking for ways to improve the customer experience, be it through the products we carry or through our service. Especially since what we’re primarily selling is a lifestyle… one that is considered, one that cultivates inspiration.
“Take for instance the Grafunkt Cafe in our new showroom at Funan. The idea of our cafe is to create a space for respite for our clients as they lounge in the atmosphere cultivated by good designs.
“We are also committed to providing a platform for the local design scene to flourish. Last year, we collaborated with local fashion brand, Vetyver, creating an exclusive collection, part of which makes up the new Grafunkt uniforms.
“We aim to release at least one collaboration each year with an external designer. So this is something that our clients can actively look forward to each year.”
Grafunkt, 107 North Bridge Road #04-01 to 06 Funan Mall, Singapore 179105
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