Triple Eyelid
Mr Jackie Tan, founder of Triple Eyelid, is a designer and maker of bespoke, upcycled furniture. Photo: The New Paper

It began life as a jewellery maker's worktable, but after Mr Jackie Tan installed a copper pipe and wiring, the block of wood found a second life as a nightstand.

This is just one of the many products Mr Jackie Tan, 28, has designed out of discarded or unwanted materials. Some of the other products he has designed are triangular stools made from old wooden pallets and a leaning stool made from an Ikea table frame.

wooden log sidetable
Mr Tan created this unique nightstand from a log. Photo: The New Paper

For Mr Tan, 28, this design process, known as upcycling, is all about ''giving a second chance to things that are ready to be discarded''. His studio, Triple Eyelid, works with clients to design custom-made furniture based on materials the clients provide. These materials can range from beer crates to leftover marble slabs, cement or floor tiles.

Triple Eyelid started in 2014 after Mr Tan left his previous job as an interior designer. Mr Tan belongs to a growing group of upcycling enthusiasts here 

For him, the business was borne out of his love for the environment, which started when he was a student in Tasmania, Australia, pursuing a degree in Environmental Design. "(Eco-consciousness) is a very common thing in their daily lives,'' he said. Everybody knows how to build. Everybody recycles and separates their trash.''

Hoping he could bring that mindset back to Singapore, he started Triple Eyelid. With no tools of his own, Mr Tan walked around with a trolley, carting back what people discarded and turning them into his own creations.

One of his first projects was to turn discarded pieces of wooden pallets into a bed for his own office. He also turned wood into crates to organise his office.

Now, the studio is housed inside the workshop of Xcel Industrial Supplies, a company that supplies wooden pallets and packaging materials. They provide Triple Eyelid with reclaimed wood. Mr Tan runs the company alone.

One of his greatest challenges, he said, was learning how to make the furniture itself. 'I didn't have a crafting background,'' he said. ''So it was a lot of trial and error.'' He encourages people who would like to try making upcycled products to first do research on the tools they need.

Sometimes, people may get scared off by the concept of upcycled goods, said Mr Tan. ''A lot of people have the misconception that upcycled designs are trash-looking, or look like things that people throw away,'' he said.


But one glance at the clean, modern look of Triple Eyelid's products would clear that up. Some products, such as a table made of Chengal wood and copper pipes, offers the unusual charm and harmony of wood and metal. Besides making bespoke, upcycled furniture, Triple Eyelid also hosts workshops for people interested in upcycling their things at home.

Mr Tan uses these workshops to encourage others to be creative using whatever they have in their houses. ''If you make things well, you will treasure it more,'' he said.

This article first appeared in The New Paper