Blending tradition with modern day tropical living, Kedai Bikin is a home-grown Malaysian brand that’s set to make it big in the region.
Farah Azizan (left) and Adela Askandar, the founders and designers of Kedai Bikin.
You could say it was only a matter of time. What started out as a boutique architectural practice in 2011 soon saw Kuala Lumpur-based Studio Bikin grow into something bigger – Kedai Bikin. The furniture and lifestyle brand launched in 2013 and, since then, has been fast drawing attention in Malaysia and the region. Founders Farah Azizan and Adela Askandar both majored in architecture in the UK, and had met in 2006 through mutual friends. The word bikin means “make”, a local Malay slang (and kedai means “shop”), a name that resonates with the founders’ belief that their design focus should always be on the “making”, the process of putting materials together. “There’s a strong sense of craft in the architecture we create and this is inherent in our furniture designs,” explains Farah. Kedai Bikin’s products range from furniture to home accessories; showcasing contemporary remakes of classic Malaysian furniture from the 1950s and 1960s.
Inspired by architectdesigner Eileen Gray, this chair is from the inaugural Ms Gray series. It keeps to a monochromatic hue with handwoven rubber or PVC strings strapped on a sturdy hand-bent steel frame.
Its inaugural collections include the Ms Gray (grey- and black-toned chairs inspired by Eileen Gray, the architect and furniture designer) and Mr Gould (chairs with pareddown support structures teamed with rattan or other upholstery materials for the seats) series, and the String family series, created from hand-bent steel frames with retro hand-woven rubber or PVC strings in vibrant hues. Most of Kedai Bikin’s designs have clean Scandinavian-style forms, but with whimsical doses of tropical warmth in colours and materials. Take for example, the Tropicalia series. The designers used two familiar materials – rattan and rubber– in new ways, by weaving them into the structure of chairs in clashing hues. “Tropicalia is about embracing the rich, diverse, colourful and lush tropical lifestyle,” enthuses Farah. “We thought rattan, a material indigenous to the tropical environment, would look great paired with the rubber strings, incidentally made in Malaysia, too!”
The Ms Gray series, as with most of Kedai Bikin’s designs, is the result of a sensitive creative thought process. The chairs set the stage for modern tropical living and are made with classic materials that have a local flavour and wide regional appeal.
Every collection is the result of a sensitive and thoughtful creative process. “Living in the tropics and coping with the extreme heat, humidity and torrential rainfall form the basis of all our design investigations,” explains Farah, who says she is also inspired by the mundane and seeks to make playful and interesting designs. Both founders want their products to “appeal to everyone”. In designing products that have a wide appeal, the young‘uns are not forgotten either. The small Layla table (Farah’s personal favourite) has been designed to make drawing fun for children. Its Lamitak laminate top comes with a roll of drawing paper in a holder attached below. Adults need not feel left out as it can also be utilised as an informal discussion table. Earlier this year, Bikin Home and Bikin Lifestyle were introduced. Farah explains: “Bikin Home features our own products and also designs from neighbouring countries such as Thailand. One example is beautiful lighting fixtures from talented designer Saruta Kiatparkpoom of Pin, who crafts the lamps from waste cut-outs from her father’s steel factory!”
The small Layla table with a Lamitak laminate top is designed with children in mind. Even adults will want this table for themselves.
Practising fair trade and social responsibility are also main tenets of the duo’s design philosophy. Bikin Social was set up so they could work directly with artisans and communities throughout Malaysia. One example is a project where Adela worked with the Asia Community Service and the talented Down Syndrome community to weave a collection of table runners and mats from recycled materials. Kedai Bikin continues to win accolades in the region and, just last year, it bagged the Innovative Craft Awards (Asean Selections) by The Support Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand (SACCIT). It’ll be only a matter of time before the Kedai Bikin label makes its presence felt in Singapore. Farah shares that it is in “talks with a few retail shops” – we can hardly wait!
Want a whimsical splash of colour in your interiors? The Tropicalia chairs will take care of that with their bold blend of vibrant retro rubber strings and rattan.