Even after more than two decades in the business, Jean Wee’s enthusiasm for furniture has not wavered. A visit to the Salone del Mobile fair in Milan is an annual ritual for the COO of Marquis Furniture Gallery; Wee enjoys hand-picking pieces that the furniture retailer brings into Singapore. “I like to do the selection with my team; if you don’t participate, you don’t have a ‘feel’ for the furniture,” says Wee. “When we do the selection, we look at the size, colour, material and the profile of the designer; whether they are able to tell a story with their design.”
Wee cut her teeth in the furnishings industry as an interior designer. “If you are a designer, you can look at the item and visualise it in a customer’s home, against certain wood panels that they may have so that you don’t select colours that only a few customers will take,” she explains. Bolstered by her decades of experience, the industry veteran and her team are able to differentiate trendy finds from pieces with perennial appeal. The retailer holds stock for limited pieces of its best-selling collections, which include the Minotti Hamilton sofa designed by Rodolfo Dordoni.
Besides Minotti, almost 80 per cent of the brands carried at Marquis Furniture Gallery are from Italy. These include Meridiani, Misuraemme, Porada and Visionnaire, which have individual sections within the Marquis QSquare complex. These elegant collections are complemented with a variety of Nordic brands at sister store Lifestorey at Dempsey; pieces that convey the minimalist and unfussy appeal of Scandi-chic.
At Minotti’s new home at the Raffles Arcade, Wee speaks to us about the changes afoot in the industry and her future plans for the company: