The new contemporary furniture destination, Macsk, is home to eleven selected premium brands, including Alessi, Brand van Egmond, Fendi Casa, Kettal and Molteni&C. Spanning 800 square metres, the showroom is under the management of industry veteran, Syddal Wee, who sits down with Stephanie Peh to talk about the motivation behind his work, as the showroom comes together.
31 December, 2014
What is Macsk’s position in this competitive furniture retail industry?
I think what I’m doing with Macsk is, in a sense, an extension of what is being done in SPACE. It is premium lifestyle. We have been slightly more selective.
The other strategy is that we collaborate with brand partners to raise their profiling and recognition. These are not commonly known brands [in Asia]. And the manufacturers do not dictate the things that we do. For example, we have Murano crystal accessories called Carlo Moretti, which we specially built display shelves for. We are probably the most significant exclusive distributor here, as we are launching the brand in a bigger way in Asia where it is not known compared to other Murano brands.
People who appreciate furniture brands, or what I call aficionados, they would have heard of some of these brands, like Molteni&C, but the general public have not. I think their profiling needs to be raised. This is something that we hope to do. Hopefully with the combination of brands that we have put in place, people will recognise Macsk as a place to come and buy premium products.
(Left to right) Varius Minimax and Vortex Minimax by Carlo Moretti
How do you define ‘premium furniture’?
In this business, you can categorise premium furniture brands into the first, second and third tier. First tier brands are usually designed by design personalities. In the case of Molteni&C, they have worked with Patricia Urquiola, Norman Foster, Ferruccio Laviani – this is an indicator of brand standing. Second indicator is that they develop products that are not adaptations, but conceptualised with inspiration from everyday things.
Tell us about the process of putting these eleven premium brands together.
It started with Molteni&C because they were looking for a distributor who could do more than what was being done previously. Coincidentally, I was available, having left SPACE. I have been in this industry for over 30 years, and some of these brands have approached me with the possibility of working together. Half of them came to us and I picked the other half – not that we have that many. These brands have the potential to be positioned as premium brands here, but have yet been given due recognition. Finally, it is not about ostentatious bling, but rather quality input. Taste preferences have changed, sophistication levels have increased. We hope to address the change.
What can customers expect from the showroom?
The fact that Molteni&C is making a strong presence here. Molteni&C and Dada go hand in hand – they have never allowed their previous distributors to have a Armani/Dada kitchen. In Southeast Asia, we are the first.
Secondly, the light piece from Lasvit. When the light is on, the music is on. There will be an application where you can control it. Every single piece of glass is mouth blown. It is a dancing chandelier with kinetic motor movements, a creative idea married with current technology. That whole set will retail for half a million US dollars.
We will also connect with customers through private sit down dinners. We will incorporate products, such as Carlo Moretti and Murano crystal drinking glasses, or Alessi cutlery and crockery to create a total design experience.
The Europeans are at the forefront of premium lifestyle designer products. Why do you think that is?
There is still a concept of apprenticeship attachment during summer vocations for tertiary institutions over there. The Europeans learn how to do things with their hands, and input theoretical knowledge of materials, hence they push the envelope when it comes to developing new products.
The products are also more expensive, not because manufacturers make more money. Aside from development costs, materials used are ecologically friendly: water-based glue is used over solvent-based glue; waste is not simply dumped into the river – little things like these. If you have to manage them, somebody pays for the cost. The fascinating thing about dealing with Europeans, or Italian furniture manufacturers is that they will not make a poor quality product, they make a product that would last in terms of durability, so from a sustainable perspective, the product does not go into the landfill earlier. Good forests are not cut down in the name of providing goods for the industry – it is about not over consuming materials that would take years to nurture.
Singapore is definitely very first world in terms of per capita income and affluence. One needs to catch on with the mentality to be more first world with regards to the consciousness of buying environmentally correct products, things that last; legacy pieces, as opposed to show off pieces. The motivation for being in this business is that we are selling durable products that will pass the test of time.
Macsk is located on 63 Mohamed Sultan Road, #01-14 Sultan Link, Singapore 239002
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