How was your Maison&Objet (M&O) Paris experience?
It was a very good experience for us, and the first time we experienced M&O as exhibitors. We learned about the breadth and depth of the homeware industry and how enormous it is. It’s a good thing in that it’s a huge market but also daunting when you see the range of existing products. We also saw that it’s a very crowded marketplace and very driven by trends. Our designs evolve out of our project experience so we are less trend-driven and more grounded in specific problem-solving – which we see as an advantage. We got a lot of positive feedback from people visiting M&O, saying that our design, viewpoint and products felt very fresh and were very appealing. Lastly, we were curious if our designs appealed more to a certain region of the world, and we were pleasantly surprised to get an evenly positive response from Europeans, Asians and Americans.
(above) The WOHAbeing pavilion features the world’s first façade to use a plane-filling curve panel system that looks like a single continuous directional winding stem the designers call “the beanstalk”.
Our WOHAbeing objects have their origins in architectural projects, mainly in the hospitality sector. Our Ulu Collection has its origins in our Alila Villas Uluwatu project but we have changed the colour palette and have added pieces to this collection that we did not have in the hotel – but the pieces are essentially the ones people experience during their stay at Alila.
When and why did you decide to venture into product design? How differently from architecture do you approach the product design process?
We’ve been working on architectural projects for over 20 years and have been designing objects for just as long, mainly for our projects. One of the main reasons why we have been thinking about making the pieces available for retail is because people have been using them for many years in our hospitality projects and have been asking about them. We work at all scales, designing masterplans, buildings, interiors and also furniture, lighting, home- and bathware. Each scale brings its own set of unique challenges but we apply our overarching strategies to each one. For instance, it’s important to us that our projects connect to the location they are set in, and we will consider the culture and history of that location in our design of the architecture and also the objects we place within the space.
WOHAbeing will be available for retail to the public via our collaboration partners (customers will be directed to the correct partner via wohabeing.net too). The objects that are manufactured by our newest partner, Wewood, will be available online and we are in discussions with a retailer here in Singapore.
How do you select which partners to collaborate with? Is it a conscious decision that each collaboration be distinctly different from another?
We partnered with collaborators who are on our wavelength in terms of design vision, quality and sustainability standards and ethics. They are experts at what they do, so our collaborations aren’t necessarily distinguished by ‘look’, but by who has the necessary experience, expertise and quality standard to manufacture a certain object. For instance, Wewood will be manufacturing pieces from both the Bintan and the Ulu Collections, and the look of these collections are very different, but we know that Wewood is able to produce both collections equally well.
Are you a WOHA fan? Which of these products for the home would you consider buying?