New lifestyle wares to make your house a cosy home


Vintage grille by Teetfa. PHOTO: TEETFA


Eugene Yip, who recently started Teetfa, wants to transform the ubiquitous grille front gate into a design piece.

Teetfa means "metal flower" in Cantonese, the old-fashioned name used by tradesmen for grille metalwork.

Mr Yip, an interior designer, says that Teetfa started from a happy chance to create something special for an interior design project that he was working on. A client wanted to recreate an 86-year-old grille design found at the former Catholic High School building on Queen Street, but Mr Yip couldn't find a workshop willing to reproduce the design as it was a single piece of complicated and time-consuming grille work.

Thankfully, he had a team member with metalsmithing experience, who could do the job.

After the thrill of making that first piece, they made a second for the design studio. Within three months, they had a collection of pieces which showcased an era of metalsmithing technique and material.

"The grille work acquired a life of its own, apart from our interior design practice, and we received some orders for custom-made gates and window grilles," he notes.

While he got a professional kick out of making them, seeing his customers' delight was the real thrill. "It became even more meaningful when customers share how such grilles remind them of their childhood, their grandparents' homes or school days," he adds.

Teetfa's customers range from HDB-dwellers to private apartment owners. Mr Yip says the grille metalworks are usually for main gates, which are the first thing people notice when they arrive at a home.

The designs can also be used for window grilles, staircase railings, decorative screens, space dividers, and coat racks. They cost from S$600 to S$4,000 depending on size and complexity, and are made entirely by hand.

There are now 14 designs to choose from, mostly in geometric shapes. Mr Yip has plans to increase the range. Last year, he spent six days in Tiong Bahru, recording the vintage window grille and gate designs found in the estate.

Every time an apartment is renovated, the original grilles disappear. "I wanted to capture the designs before they are gone," he explains. But they won't disappear, not when he has plans to recreate them - to add to his portfolio and protect at least a part of Singapore's heritage.

To shop, visit teetfa.com

Marshmallow towels from IUIGA. PHOTO: IUIGA


Does that suitcase you're eyeing really cost that much, or are you just paying for the retailer's markup? More likely than not, it's the latter. Retailers won't admit it, but the markup can be as much as eight to 20 times more than the actual cost price, says Jaslyn Chan, business development manager at IUIGA.

IUIGA sells homeware and lifestyle items, but it prides itself on coming clean about its pricing.

"We always wonder why we have to pay so much for quality. IUIGA believes that quality isn't a luxury and does not have to be expensive," says Ms Chan.

Just how does IUIGA keep its price low? "We eliminate traditional markups by working directly with the manufacturers and passing on these savings to customers," points out Ms Chan.

The manufacturers that IUIGA work with are not fly-by-night operators but establishments that produce for reputable brands. For example, IUIGA's aluminium magnesium alloy suitcase comes from the same factory that produces for Samsonite. Pots and pans from IUIGA are from the factory where German brand WMF gets its range. IUIGA also works with manufacturers that produce for MUJI and UCHINO.

Customers know exactly what they are paying for when they look at IUIGA's price tag. Each item comes with the price that it charges, and the price that other retailers would charge.

Under its honest pricing policy, IUIGA reveals exactly how much materials, labour, tax and transport costs are. "We do mark up our prices a little, but this is definitely a lot less than regular retailers," says Ms Chan.

IUIGA currently offers 160 products that include quilt covers, bean bags and towels. There are new product launches each week. Customers can shop either on its website or through its mobile app. It also offers next-day delivery and shipping is free for purchases above S$88.

To shop, visit iuiga.com

Basket Weave Faux Leather Cushions. PHOTO: 1001CUSHIONS.COM.

1001 Cushions

Can there be too much of a good thing? Sajni Gill, COO of Gill Capital, the brainchild of the now defunct Iwannagohome! doesn't think so. Especially cushions. And she's putting her money where her mouth is with a store totally devoted to them

"It was based on the simple observation that there was a conspicuous gap in the market for a specialist retailer of cushions," says Ms Gill.

Traditionally, cushions are often relegated to a shelf in furniture stores, much like an afterthought. "I felt it was high time these unsung heroes of homeware received the star billing they deserve," adds Ms Gill.

She waxes lyrical about what cushions can do, such as giving comfort to a user, some back support where needed, livening up a dull corner, and creating a luxe look without having to spend too much.

"Cushions can do so much and yet expect nothing in return, other than the occasional plumping and careful laundering," she says.

As its name suggests, 1001 Cushions offers more than 1001 choices. The brand is currently available online in Singapore, Australia, Malaysia and even in the US. Its customers not only include homeowners, but also department stores, property developers and hotels.

To make finding the right cushion a breeze, the cushions are divided into different categories, including stripes, garden, solid colours and leather. Cushions come in three sizes to fit different size sofas.

Homeowners should also take advantage of the website's Visualiser option, which enables them to see how their selected cushions would look on a sofa.

The cushions are priced from S$39 to S$99 depending on size and material. Each comes filled with hypoallergenic polyester, and in its own drawstring bag, making it handy for gift-giving too.

So, want to jazz up a home, but don't have time to buy new furniture, or even give the walls a new coat of paint? A cushion or two may just do the trick.

To shop, visit 1001cushions.com


Written by Tay Suan Chiang for The Business Times.


TOPICS: Accessories