Cover Story
Reuse, Repurpose, Remarkable
Grace Lim | 02 Mar 2018 00:30
Making beautiful furniture by recycling salvaged wood.

The Japanese art of kintsugi – kin meaning “gold” and tsugi refers to “repair” – is an interesting one. When a piece of pottery breaks, instead of discarding it, precious metal such as liquid gold, liquid silver or lacquer dusted with powdered gold is used to rejoin the broken pieces to make it whole again. Each piece is unique as each ceramic shatters differently, and the resulting irregular patterns are enhanced.

This topic comes up when I drop by the Art of Tree (AOT) showroom one morning to meet with its owners, Jeffrey Yang and Joey Woo. They offer me a glass of cold water, and I am about to set down it down one of their beautiful tables when I request for a coaster.

“That won’t be necessary,” Yang smiles. “The philosophy behind our furniture is that even if you break it, it can still be turned into something useable. One of our staff once dropped a slab on a table and it broke in half. When I restored it using resin, the table actually looked more beautiful than before – just like the kintsugi.”

For those in the furniture or woodworks industry, the husband-and-wife duo are familiar names. They sell wooden furniture, mainly dining tables, coffee tables, benches and stools, made from salvaged wood. The venture began when Yang, who was in the business of exporting ornamental fishes, got involved in exporting driftwood. Through this, he stumbled upon a sawmill that was processing salvaged trees.

“Salvaged trees have interesting character. They are irregular in shape and a lot of them have imperfections and cavities. When they mill the trees, what you see is a very unusual expression of art, and I was very attracted to that. It got me thinking about what I could do with them,” Yang recalls.