Ong Shunmugam's newest rattan homeware and furniture is made entirely from scratch
Twist and turn
Priscilla Ong-Shunmugam may have been stuck in her room during the lockdown in London — but unlike many, it wasn't time spent idly. As the design genius behind the Ong Shunmugam brand, she instead spent her waking hours designing and drafting a new series of rattan furniture and basketry for the brand's Suvarnabumi collections — previously featuring porcelain tableware.
Social distancing didn't put a pin in her creativity as she began creating designs that felt instinctual for the rattan material, and separate from the textbook references of rattan furniture. The mix of materials was new, and suggested structures had never been attempted before. With this natural and intuitive process of designing, drawings had to be done from scratch, and the crafts had to be built from nothing but the original drawings themselves.
Even with her trusted veteran craftsmen at the ready, this may not have been an easy feat, but perhaps the challenge itself makes the final product all the more something to be cherished. With the introduction of foreign elements like batik from Indonesia, jacquard fabric from China and indigenous Iban weave patterns, the Malaysia-harvested rattan types are respectfully updated for a refreshing design ethos: one that does not ignore tradition, but understands the sensitivities of cultivating materials such as rattan. One we might suggest, that stands closer to the heart of a modern Asia.
The brand's beautiful rattan designs are also a gentle nod to the talented yet often unacknowledged artisans behind the slow craft. With an increasingly imminent biological and cultural loss alongside mass clearances of forests, Ong Shunmugam also hopes that their design values — of sustainable and ethical standards — can be a pivotal one for the future of fashion, art and design.
The new rattan collection by Ong Shunmugam is exclusively retailed at Atelier Ong Shunmugam and on the online store here.