At Mobler, every antique furniture item is a one-off , too.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
At Mobler, every antique furniture item is a one-off , too.
My Reading Room

Most people land in Singapore with 30kg of baggage. Emelie Heden (above right) arrived with 11 tonnes (11,000kg).

All of it was vintage Scandinavian furniture that would make up the 34-year-old’s fledgling business, Mobler, which means “furnishings” in Heden’s native Swedish.

The 450 items had been sourced on a sixmonthlong road trip with her sister, Ellen (above left), who co-owns Mobler. The pair hooked a trailer to their car, visited antique dealers and collectors around the south of Sweden, and amassed a collection of vintage pieces dating back to the 1800s.

Heden has loved vintage furniture since she was a child, and she knows her stuff . One look at a piece, and she can tell by its design and material which period it’s from.

Walk into Mobler’s warehouse space in a back lane in Balestier’s Jalan Ampas and you’ll find it crammed with one-off items like an ornate gilded mirror, old cinema seats and a vintage writing desk that expands to reveal a backgammon board. Each piece has a unique history that adds character and soul to any space.

“Swedish design heritage is amazing,” says Heden. “It has one of the longest craft histories in the world… there’s a lot of pride in craftsmanship and carpentry, and a ready supply of all sorts of wood.” Another thing that makes Scandi designs relevant regardless of time and taste: “Scandinavian style is subtle. It’s all about the shape, material and functionality – which makes it easy to mix with modern furniture,” says Heden.

The response to Mobler since it opened late last year has been “fantastic”, says Heden. Singaporeans who source pieces from her often complain that it’s hard to find vintage furniture that’s high-quality, unique, and won’t burn a hole in their pockets.

That’s why Heden has priced her wares well: smaller items cost as little as $45, while nothing in her stable exceeds $4,000.