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You Will Love These Surprisingly Affordable Designer Furniture

Home-grown furniture giant Castlery is known for carrying their own brand of good-looking, affordable pieces that are designed specifically for the Singapore home. The pieces are by and large trendy and contemporary, sometimes modular, sometimes space-saving and often customisable to your needs and fancies.

The brand has recently collaborated with a group of international designers who come from countries such as the likes of the UK, Poland and Spain, a move that is a departure from what they usually do – Castlery has their own in-house furniture designers – but it’s a move that has resulted in stunningly beautiful pieces that mesh Western aesthetics with very Singaporean sensibilities.

The designer pieces are thankfully very reasonably priced, in keeping with Castlery’s philosophy. A comfortably sleek three-seater sofa with a familiar Scandinavian aesthetic is retailing for just $1,099, while a dining table featuring solid ash wood legs goes for just $879.

There are a total of 6 new collections. Here are the highlights:

1. Luna

The beautiful Luna collection, comprising a sofa, armchair and ottoman with customisable upholstery was designed by Polish designer Krystian Kowalski and inspired by cosy family gatherings in the evening.


2. Veil

Netherlands-based designer Phil Procter designed a series of storage furniture, which he named Veil. While cupboards and cabinets tend to have a hard façade, these ones come with soft fabric fronts that are fully customisable.


3. Strato

Designed by Italian designer Paolo Cappello, the Strato collection of dining tables and chairs, as well as storage furniture fits right into any contemporary home. The gently splayed legs of the pieces lend a soft touch, departing from the harsh angles and edges of conventional modern furniture.


4. Bambu

Yonoh Studio who is based in Spain came up with the Bambu collection, a series of seating and storage which took its inspiration from bamboo and rattan furniture commonly seen in this part of the world.


5. Lily

The Lily Collection by British designer James Harrison pays homage to mid-century furniture. They feature an iconic X-brace which not only add to the character of the pieces, but also provide structural support.


6. Gable

Australian designer Charles Wilson designed the Gable collection of seats, which is meant to evoke conversations. It is also inspired by the mid-century style. The silhouettes are soft and fluid, with gentle curves rather than hard angles, seemingly enveloping the user.


We caught up with Phil and Clara del Portillo and Alex Selma from Yonoh Studios when they stopped over in Singapore to find out more about their new collections and life as designers.

Hi Phil. Tell me a bit about what you were like growing up and how has that influenced you as a designer.

When I was little, I was always making things, taking the odd ends and scraps and putting them together. My dad’s an engineer, so he’s interested in how things work and that has rubbed off on me a bit. From there, through formal education, I began to give the things I put together a proper function.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently doing my first interior project. It’s for an interior of a museum. I’m working on everything from the panelling to the seating plan. It’s a bit different from what I usually work with, which is typically on a piece of furniture or a range of products. Now I have to consider different proportions and perspectives – thinking about how they walk into a space and what they see when they do.

What is the most important aspect of design for you?

I think joyfulness. And that can be through colour or function. It can be that when we use it, it will make us smile a little bit. Or it may be having something unexpected. I hope that what I make can improve daily lives.

Your storage collection with Castlery focuses on this idea of “softness”. Why are you so particular about that?

I feel that current storage pieces often feel like another wall in the room. With this collection, I try to create something that doesn’t feel like a façade and make something that is a bit friendlier and more approachable. So I switched the cold, hard fronts of conventional storage systems with the soft fabric ones you see in Veil.

What are the customisable options for Veil?

For now, it’s mainly in the fabric fronts. There are two sizes of doors in six different colours. We’re looking to extend that to 10 in the near future. The cabinet is available in one finish, but I’m looking to add more finishes to the cabinet.

Hey Clara and Alex. How did you decide you were better off working together as Yonoh Studio, back in 2006?

Clara: At that time, we were actually a couple and living together. We collaborated on a couple of projects together and liked it, then thought ‘hey, maybe we should work together’. It wasn’t a difficult decision.

How different are the both of you?

Clara: Alex is the creative mind for Yonoh. He is constantly starting new projects. But his problem is that he loses interest very quickly. [laughs] His mind then starts to wander to new things. I try to help push the project to completion, to see things through the end. I’m also more involved in the business side of the studio.

Are there things you don’t agree on?

Clara: Of course! We are partners at work but no longer partners in life so that becomes a bit more difficult, but we are able to manage that and reach a peaceable conclusion most of the time.

Alex: Yeah. For instance, in creative matters, I will have the last say and Clara will have the last say for things related to the business.

What does Yonoh mean symbolically and literally?

Clara: It doesn’t actually mean anything, literally. Instead, we chose Yonoh because the word is symmetrical, whether you look at it the right side up or upside down. In a way, that represents our two different characters in one.

What is Yonoh’s design philosophy?

Clara: Simplicity. We never overdesign, but we care about the details. Every little curve or angle has a purpose.

You’ve mentioned during the presentation for your new collection, Bambu, that it has a “Western perspective”. How so, and how do you see the collection being relevant for the homes in Singapore then?

It’s “Western”, mainly in terms of the design. But it’s ultimately very Asian because the form and techniques we use to create them are inspired from bamboo and rattan furniture which are predominant in Southeast Asia. For instance, the main piece, which is the sofa, features an exposed bended timber structure. We also worked closely with Castlery to find out about the sizes of homes here.

What are the customisable options for Bambu?

The wood will be in a natural finish, but you will get to customise the upholstery in different colours. You will also get to change the colours for the cabinet fronts, the table tops of the coffee tables and the shelves.

Where do you see Yonoh moving forward?

Clara: We don’t want to be a very big studio, in terms of numbers. It isn’t our aspiration to become company owners as we still want to be designers at the heart of it all. We’re pretty happy where we are now, working with a few companies all around the world.

Alex: We don’t like to restrict ourselves on the type of companies we work with. Currently, we’re working on a ceramics bathroom collection with a Thai company. We’re also designing children playgrounds and even a pool table. We like doing different things.

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