The creative duo behind soon-to-drop furnishing label R/R are boldly going where few homegrown brands dare to tread with a design-first perspective – even if that means sacrificing comfort for form
If one’s home is indeed an extension of the self, then what might an abode kitted out with the raw, moody pieces from fresh new furniture brand R/R say?
It might suggest that the proud new owner of the brand’s sleek cube-shaped back-less steel chair or hand-knocked and welded metal clothing rack shaped like a tree branch is enough of an aesthete to be willing to choose a piece for its looks, first and foremost.
Founders Royce Tan, Royston Ho
That is exactly what the label’s co-founder Royce Tan is hoping to achieve through this venture with business partner Royston Ho (R/R, geddit?), an interior designer who owns the design studio Oblivion Lab.
“People say form and function must always work hand in hand, but people are becoming more and more practical and forsaking form. So we have decided to put together a brand that is disrupting common sense and putting form before function,” declares Tan.
Launching Late May 2023
The first drop of R/R pieces, which will launch by late May will feature six items, including the cube chair and clothes rack.
Prices range from $400 to over $4,500.
Royce Tan (above) is one half of the new furniture label R/R. Together with his camera-shy business partner Royston Ho, the duo creates objects for the living space with a dark and industrial aesthetic.
Dark, Industrial Aesthetic
“We just wanted a brand that reflected who we are as individuals, like an extension of ourselves,” says Tan, a serial entrepreneur who was the director and founder of The Fragment Room, the first rage room in Southeast Asia. He is currently the director of the Southeast Asia distribution arm of chic bath products brand Casamera.
It is of course no coincidence that Tan’s various business endeavours feature a gritty, industrial aesthetic – as does Ho’s design style, which is strongly inspired by Brutalism.
Inspired by Brutalism
“This is exactly the reason why Royston and I came together to work on this project, our visions line up,” Tan quips. “Our first collection has a very strong Brutalist influence but we do not want to just stick to one style, form or medium. Just like we are multi-faceted beings, we would like R/ R to express all of who we are and our interests.”
He promises that the second collection of furniture will be a “stark contrast” to this capsule collection and hints that they are launching a range of sterling silver objets soon. In the meantime, he tells FEMALE more about the conception of R/R.
A Series of “Uncomfortable” Furniture
“Looking at all my peers buying their first homes and also being in the interior design industry, I saw people putting comfort before aesthetics. [They were] sacrificing the potential for a beautiful home that can reflect the owner’s personality for cookie-cutter homes because culturally, we are afraid to explore.
We wanted to break the mould and go against the grain. We wanted to give others the chance to explore their personalities and push the boundaries of their comfort, in terms of taste and physically.
Not every piece of furniture needs to be covered in cushions that can recline and massage you. Some items are meant to be statement pieces or to serve a specific purpose.”
R/R Started from Custom Furniture
“Royston and I have a lot of mutual friends and occasionally bump into each other in public. One day he hit me up on Instagram and asked if I was keen to come by and figure out if we could do anything together.
We are both in the interior design industry and both of us love clothes. We started bouncing the idea of starting a clothing line but then came an opportunity where he needed custom furniture for a client and wanted my take on it. I decided to give it a go and drew way more than what was expected.
When we looked through the drawings, they all seemed like interesting pieces we wanted to bring to life. So we scrapped the idea of a clothing line for now and decided to jump head first into making furniture!”
Love for Beautiful Objects
“I have always been a purveyor of beautiful and interesting objects ever since I was a young boy. I had drawers and drawers of sketchbooks filled with everything and anything that peaked my interest throughout the years.
But I never would have thought starting a furniture brand would even be a possibility here in Singapore without Royston’s support.
We had Royston’s interior design clients giving us deposits for concepts we’ve yet to come up with because they believed in what we could achieve, and that was the push to make this a reality.”
Favourite Fashion Brands
“I know from how the furniture looks a lot of people will say Rick Owens, but brands like N. Hollywood’s ideology on elevating basics and essentials is what really inspires me.
Take everyday objects and build them better, then add a special touch to make them unique.
Visvim has also been a strong influence, teaching me to look back at the past and try not to overthink and try to reinvent the wheel.”
‘Rick Owens’ Vibes
“I wouldn’t say there is a direct correlation between our fashion influences and furniture, it all just is a coincidence. To be honest we never even noticed the furniture sparked ‘Rick Owens’ vibes till the first customers came to take a look at them during our product unveiling event!”
“Yes! I am glad you noticed. We wanted to explore the basics, whether it was through shapes or function. We are starting out with our mild steel chair that only resembles a chair in function and aesthetically looks like a cube.”
“It is always about causing a stir and making an impact. If our brand ends up letting people be more open and having conversations about what they like instead of just buying what everyone else seems to like, that is good enough for me. I never looked at R/R as a means to make money, the same as the rest of my businesses. They are all to share a thought, a mindset and hopefully build a community.”
This article was originally published in Female.