With so much waste generated by unsold items in the furniture industry, do we really need another new furniture brand? In the case of LAAT, the answer is a resounding yes, thanks to its unique design philosophy. LAAT is a local furniture label founded by two award-winning creatives: interior designer Cherin Tan, founder of interior architecture firm LAANK, and multidisciplinary artist Alvin Tan, co-founder of art and design collective PHUNK. LAAT’s purpose is to repurpose; the label produces furniture collections crafted from unsold items and material waste, breathing a new life into dead stocks and turning them into bespoke items that straddle the realm of design and art. We asked Cherin to share more.
HOW DID LAAT COME ABOUT?
Alvin and I have been long-time collaborators. We’ve worked together on many projects, and in some of them, we created products from various industry scraps and salvaged materials. We thought, “Why don’t we collaborate on a series?” And the idea evolved into creating LAAT as a platform for these collaborations.
IS IT LAAT’S INTENTION TO CREATE OBJECTS THAT ARE BOTH DESIGN ITEMS AND ARTWORK?
We’re more interested in creating artistic value to repurposed items that otherwise would go to waste by giving them a new lease of life as one-of-a-kind items. Because of the nature of the materials, the items cannot be exactly replicated. We also have so much fun exploring the new ways we can make something old and historic new again.
WHERE DID YOU SOURCE THE MATERIALS FOR LAAT’S FURNITURE FROM?
Everywhere – salvaged materials, overstocks, dead stocks. Sometimes suppliers we’ve worked with called us and donated their unsold materials for us to turn into something, like lighting fixtures, sanitary fittings, candle holders and so on. We think it is a wonderful thing to repurpose these as furniture materials rather than creating something from scratch and produce more waste in the process.
ARE LAAT’S FURNITURE MANUFACTURED IN SINGAPORE?
Yes. We have some very talented and resourceful manufacturers and craftspeople in Singapore. I have collaborated with them for some items in my own home, like a freestanding sink repurposed from a giant planter.
WHAT’S YOUR HOPE AND DREAMS FOR THIS VENTURE?
For LAAT to become a collaboration platform for creatives across industries. Our collaboration so far is quite organic. The first series was inspired by the iconic German performer and singer Klaus Nomi, who died from AIDS complications in 1983. Part of the proceeds from the sale of LAAT’s first series will be donated to Action for AIDS Singapore, a non-governmental organisation dedicated to fighting AIDS and HIV infection in Singapore. For the next series, we will collaborate with different creatives and organisations. We’re keeping our minds open.
HOW CAN WE GET LAAT FURNITURE?
Our collection is sold at the Art Now Gallery at the Raffles Arcade. You can also reach us directly via our Instagram handle @laat.sg.
WHAT KIND OF CUSTOMISATION DO YOU OFFER?
We can customise some elements of the items we have in our series. Each item is unique, and we won’t be able to exactly replicate it once it’s sold out. But if we still have the materials on hand, we can create something similar and customise the colour or finishes.
WHO ARE LAAT’S CUSTOMERS?
Anybody who can appreciate a piece of art, but not shy away from the word “upcycling”. People who can find beauty in repurposing and those who seek something unique.
DO YOU ACCEPT MATERIAL DONATIONS?
Absolutely. The ultimate goal of LAAT eventually is to be a brand that offers not just products, but also solutions. Maybe you have to downsize because you move places and you have some items you’d like to donate or repurpose? Or dead stocks piling up in your warehouse? We’d like to help by giving them artistic values.
The Keys of Life table (left, $1,850) and the Three Wishes seat bench (right, $1,200) from the first series features playful shapes and sculptural metallic parts repurposed from a supplier’s dead stocks.
The lamp collection from LAAT’s first series comprises three desk lamps (Total Eclipse on the floor, Lightning Strikes on the bed and High Wire near the wall, each $380) and a floor lamp called The Cold Song ($850), which was inspired by Klaus Nomi’s iconic style.
text ASIH JENIE