Beautiful things have always caught my eye. Sometimes it literally makes you step back, put your head on tilt, and do an intense once over. I felt like that the first time I encountered this dark wooden console with striking brass dove tail bows.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to Thin & Bold.
As I hovered covetously over the console Kent Lim, co-founder of Thin & Bold, tapped me on the shoulder and gave me a quick hug. Now, this wasn't just the happy embrace of a managing director excited to see someone 'get' his vision - Kent was first and foremost, a friend. We'd been friends well before Thin & Bold's launch in August 2015. I'd observed him take the seed of an idea, plant it and grow into this beautiful company.
You see, I had been pounding the pavements of a huge HomeDec fair for two days straight, passing booth after booth full of garish, unoriginal designs. Let's just say I was in a bit of a pout.
Time and time again, it seems there's this wide chasm in the quality of products in Malaysia, regardless of whether you're seeking clothes, shoes, or in this case, furniture. You're often faced with either items with low price points and questionable quality or super expensive imported designer lines. These would be easy to fall in love with were it not for that $40,000+ ringgit price tag.
Often there's not much in between. So it's been a bit of struggle to find things that are both easy on the eyes, and relative to the quality of the product, acceptable to the wallet.
Thin & Bold fills this niche perfectly with its striking designs and unique wood treatments.
I expected to encounter Kent's furniture line during the fair, to congratulate him and keep it moving. But once I saw his pieces, I knew I wanted to have a deeper conversation about their design inspiration and company ethics. I was curious about the materials he was using and whether he featured any sustainable and eco-friendly practices, aspects that are close to my heart as a consumer. So like any good, curious customer, I asked if he'd join me for a chat, and serve as our very first interviewee for Batik & Bubbles 'DWELL' section.
A couple weeks later, we sat down and talked shop together with his business partner and childhood friend Esther Ng.
Batik&Bubbles (B&B): Kent and Esther, tell us a bit about your respective backgrounds and how it led you to launching Thin & Bold (T&B).
Kent: After reading* Interior Architecture at the London Metropolitan University, I worked with an architecture firm focused on sustainability and warehouse designs. I helped design hundreds of acres of warehousing, which taught me about the importance of light, space and structural design. After a few years, I worked with an online furniture company that imported products to the Malaysian market. This served as my first foray into the furniture industry. After a couple years, Esther and I discussed collaborating in a way that allowed us to focus more intensely on the actual process of sustainable furniture design and production, as well as branding and marketing.
Esther: I've always been interested in home furnishing and home accessories. I used to blog about it for years and was keen to partner with Kent. We balance each others strength. He's got a strong sense of space, line and form, whereas my background is in digital marketing so together we knew we could create a strong unique brand of our own.
*In case you're not used to British-speak, 'reading' is synonymous with 'studying'.
B&B: What does sustainability look like for Thin & Bold?
T&B: We ensure that sustainability and eco-friendly practices are woven throughout our product and processes.
- Sustainable Wood: Wood is at the core of the T&B collection. Sourcing for sustainable wood begins at the origin of the wood to the production process, and treatment of the product. Thin & Bold features sustainable French Oak and Indonesian Teak, which are certified by PEFC and FSC respectively, international NGOs focused on sustainable forest management. These certifications ensure that the wood originates from forest that are well-managed to meet the local economic and ecological needs of present and future generations.
- Recycled Metal: We also incorporate the use of recycled metal in many of T&B designs. Since we utilize specialist workshops, it allows us to more effectively mix materials as you've seen in the KULU design series, which features teak combined with either recyled sand cast iron or bronze. This involves the collection of old engine blocks, obsolete machines and disused machinery equipment. These are then melted at 1500 degrees and set into sand molds to create these distinctive shapes.
- Additionally, we also partner with the Charm of PJ to ensure that any old furniture that our client are seeking to discard can be donated and reused, if in fair condition.
B&B: What design style or muse inspires you in curating the T&B collection? Is there a common element to T&B pieces?
T&B: Each of our collections are inspired by different artist and sculptures, for example the KULU collection, which is the one that caught your eye, is actually inspired by the bronze and gold sculptures by the Giacometti brothers. The KULU range was designed by our creative partners Justin Wheatcroft and Edward Stoddart, UK designers based in Vietnam.
Each of the legs are carefully sculptured by hand, creating a textured surface that is captured by the casting process. The metal under-frame is made from wrought iron or bronze. The oak tops are made from straight edge boards of solid oak, and are hand scrapped and sanded rather than panned, so the tips have an undulating surface. A rounded radius is then applied to the edge to reveal the beauty of the metal work.
Thin & Bold furniture is evocative of the boldness of the design at first place juxtaposed against its thin and delicate finishes. Our product design is aimed to appeal to both the masculine and feminine aesthetics.
B&B: In six short months, you've grown from a purely online presence to a fully stocked showroom. Tell us about the newest T&B collection?
T&B: We are constantly searching for new product lines that represent our motto "Sustainably Inspired". Our latest collection features a collaboration with local Malaysian designers Kedai Bikin on a LUXE collection designed by Farah Azizan andAdela Askandar. These feature light metal work, interesting fabrics and bold pops of neon color. Together we are proud to feature a few pieces designed by other talented Malaysian designers and pieces carefully sourced from regional artisans and craftsmen.
B&B: What is the market for designer furniture in Malaysia?
T&B: While the market for designer furniture is rather huge internationally, it isn't yet the case in Malaysia. People here still tend to opt for replicas, since the prices to ship international designer products here is extremely high, not to mention potential import taxes.
There is a lot of solid wood furniture in the market, but most are quite big and bulky. Those are mainly priced based on quality of the wood itself, without much thought to the creativity of the design. With T&B we specifically engage with our designers cum manufacturers to create more minimalist and contemporary designs. Therefore, we provide professionally qualified designs at a much more affordable price, since our furniture is shipped directly from the makers themselves.
B&B: What type of trends do you foresee in the Malaysian furniture and design market?
T&B: Home furnishing is very similar to fashion trends in that designs are constantly evolving. There is definitely movement towards embracing more modern contemporary trends here in Malaysia. With that said, an individual's taste is very subjective. So we still see a wide mix of classical, eccentric, contemporary, modern and even traditional styles of teak and rattan furniture in the Malaysian market.
B&B: You mentioned the Perfect 6 - what exactly is that?
T&B: We offer a list of complimentary services called the Perfect 6.
- Free Home Styling Consultation: Assistance in styling and customizing your home with no obligation to purchase.
- Free Delivery: Door-to-Door to anywhere within the Klang Valley.
- Free Installation Service: T&B Delivery team will meticulously assemble your purchases at your preferred site.
- Free Removal Service: Assist in furniture removal and donation to the Seri Sinar Charity Foundation via the Charm of PJ.
- Free Return Policy: 14 days return policy after delivery if it doesn't fit your space
- Showroom Ready: In addition to our online store, our showroom gives you an opportunity to personally touch and experience the furniture directly.
B&B: What makes you most excited about launching T&B?
T&B: The furniture we are selling of course! We are the first to bring these unique pieces to the Malaysian market. There's still so much to educate our customers when it comes to our products - from the origin of the reclaimed solid wood, to the hand-making process, traditional wood-joining techniques, the cast iron and metal melting process, the vegetable oil-finishing process and the list goes on & on...
As our tagline reads, we don't just sell furniture. We foster lifestyle as a whole. It's a trend, it is fashion, and certainly an art of living. Plus, it's rewarding to meet new clients, architects, and aspiring interior designers that we've already started working closely with on new projects and collaboration. It's been a fun and exciting journey together so far.
B&B: Now what exactly is vegetable-oil finishing, enlighten us?
T&B: It's actually a process whereby vegetable-based oil is blended with modern resins to give a natural look but with greatly improved performance. This finishing helps furniture to become more resilient against watermarks or stains. Where normal finishing on wood furniture might result in stains if a wet cup is left for more than a handful of minutes, wood that is treated with vegetable-oil finishing is more resistant to water stains for up to 6 hours. This helps to protect and preserve furniture for both conscientious and carefree owners.
B&B: Do you have any tips for new homeowners when considering furniture for their 1st home?
T&B: Always take as much time as possible when it comes to renovating and choosing the right furniture. Never rush into anything, when it comes to creating your prefect home sweet home. Research and Pinterest all types of styles and designs from all around the world and get ideas from there. Always mix and match your furniture with the right choice of soft furnishings to create the desired look. Nothing is ever wrong, it's very subjective in terms of individual preferences. As long as the furniture you like is sustainable and reasonably priced in terms of quality and where it is made, then go for it!
You will never regret getting a good piece of furniture for your home, that's for sure!
After clambering all over most of their furniture, all in the name of objective research of course, we were convinced that not only were T&B pieces distinctive and eye-catching, but also bold and strong enough to satisfy even the most rambunctious of personalities.
We each made notes of our favorite pieces and with plans to return, we left feeling that sense of satisfaction when a friend has struck out on their own in pursuit of their dreams, and then managed to not only do it well, but do it beautifully!
You can find Thin&Bold online at http://thinandbold.com/
If you're the type that has to lay your pretty little hands on the furniture and nestle in a bit, then do reccomend you contact T&B for an appointment to view the showroom at 013-398-8108.
They are located on the third floor at 03-06 of The Oval in Damansara, 60000, Kuala Lumpur.
T&B is open Monday- Sunday from 10am to 7pm, by appointment only.