Architects Richard Hassell and Wong Mun Summ of Singapore-based practice Woha, who have designed luxury hotels including furniture, have responded to demand by launching their own lifestyle brand, WohaBeing.
Hassell says hotel guests would become angry when unable to buy their furniture, but at the latest Maison & Objet Paris trade fair the two architects launched their brand to put their furniture, rugs, lights, bathware and tableware on the market.
Both men designed furniture early in their careers, but turned their focus to architecture after founding Woha in 1994. Their landmarks include Bali’s clifftop resort Alila Villas Uluwatu and Singapore’s Park Royal hotel.
After winning the Maison & Objet’s Asia Designer of the Year title last year and being invited by the organisers to hold an exhibition in Paris, the two started thinking about establishing a spin-off brand. Within nine months they had created six collections for their lifestyle line, with collaborators ranging from Luzerne, a Singaporean company with a manufacturing base in Fujian that makes “ethical” bone china without bones, to Wonderglass, a London-based lighting company that works with glass blowers in Venice.
“We are able to jump scale from something really large to something small,” says Wong.
For their bathware collection, the two architects were inspired by old sampans. “We started off with the idea of a bathtub that was going to be like a club chair,” says Wong. “But when we started drawing shapes, we saw we actually had a sampan.” The result was tubs and sinks made of reconstituted marble that look like origami boats, made by Australian bathware designer Apaiser.
In Singapore in December, the pair will unveil the Diaspora collection of ceramic tableware, which they describe as an “elegant oriental range” that plays with the idea of cultural export and assimilation. A Singapore line, for example, will have accents of Peranakan-style colours and silver, while an Australian collection will have gold embellishments inspired by the Chinese who flocked to the country during the gold rushes of the 1850s.