Cover Dad's Woods Sang Kancil collection in the wild

Handsome and durable, these three local furniture brands craft contemporary hardwood pieces to treasure

The appeal of wood furniture is timeless. Its warmth adds visual weight, especially to the more austere style favoured in modern homes.

Hardwood, in particular, is always prized for its beautiful woodgrain, not to mention its strength and durability. In the hands of the right craftsmen, hardwood can be transformed into furniture that will age with grace.  

Here are three local furniture companies that design and craft natural, aesthetic pieces that last a lifetime.

1. Balak's

Balak's is a relatively new brand started in 2020 by Lucas Eng, whose family has been in the woodworking business since the mid-1990s.

Based in Bukit Mertajam, Penang, the 20-something was looking for a way to pivot the family business, which specialised in hardwood wooden doors, during the pandemic and decided to move into making work desks since most of the office workforce were moving towards WFH over the lockdowns. 

While Eng had the basic infrastructure to start an enterprise like Balak's, he had to create a product that would be uniquely theirs. This would be  Meja, a sit-stand desk adjustable via a motor and crafted from handpicked eco raw timber. Also, he chose to work on a B2C model by marketing his products directly to consumers via the company's website.

 

Balak's was well received, with Meja being purchased not just by individuals but have seen collaborations with co-working spaces eager to add a touch of uniqueness to their setup like WORQ and PAPER + TOAST x Seedspace.

Collaborations fuel creativity, and Balak's' most recent one intersects art, craft and innovation. Balak's worked with Kuala Lumpur-based multidisciplinary creative Cloakwork, well-known for his graffiti art. A coffee table called the Cloa-ffee was created, which featured a cloud-shaped solid wood tabletop resting on cylindrical stainless steel legs by fellow Penang brand and Balak’s' long-time collaborator Stacos Stainless Steel. 

While the limited edition table is already sold out, Balak's current trajectory promises many more intriguing future offerings.

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2. Art of Tree

An advocator of eco-responsibility, Art of Tree turns salvaged trees into furniture. Slabs are sourced from Malaysian urban areas and trees that would otherwise be rejected because they have cavities, have fallen on their own or were cleared for development.

Far from being unfit for another life, Art of Tree treasures the intricate marks of each fallen tree and creates conversation pieces that can be custom-made to individual stylistic preferences.

No two pieces are alike so owners can be assured of a truly unique creation. While Art of Tree pieces are statement-making, they are also functional and may be used as boardroom or dining tables, coffee tables or countertops.

To diversify its offerings, Art of Tree also has a Hologram range where epoxy resin is combined with the wood to infuse a mesmerising colour and transparency into the pieces. All this and more can be experienced at Art of Tree's new showroom on Jalan Maarof, Bangsar. 

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3. Dad's Woods

Dad's Woods was founded by Khoo V-Ho and Giselle Khoo, pair of siblings in Penang, in honour of their late father about six years ago. The family had been in the furniture business for over 30 years. After their dad passed away, the siblings rebranded the family business and pivoted into a brand specialising in bespoke solid wood furniture. 

The idea behind the name, apart from paying homage to their father, was to create furniture with good quality Malaysian timber that would last and be able for owners to carry them forward and possibly become the antiques of the modern era in the future.

 

With this in mind, Dad's Woods has grown its business specialising in beautifully crafted pieces from Malaysian timber—mainly Chengal wood. While it crafts and produces furniture in Penang, its recent collections like Premam takes inspiration from Kerala, India. Premam is a collection of nine unique pieces that are a modern take on the traditional Indian aesthetic.

The brand recently launched the Animal Collection, which drew inspiration from the Sang Kancil folklore and was crafted with precious Malaysian Teak. Comprising 15 pieces that reference six indigenous animals from the legend, each piece is one of a kind. The collection also Dad's Woods first of sculptural pieces that serve as functioning artwork  and Dad's Woods debuted in creating sculptural pieces that serve as functioning artwork. 

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