The art of made-in-Singapore timber furniture

Local furniture company The Table Guy brings out the best in solid wood with long-term sustainability in mind.

  • The art of made-in-Singapore timber furniture

Text by Stephanie Peh

A lacklustre purchase years ago left Daryl Loh feeling immensely dissatisfied. The offending product – a slab table – turned out to be heavily lacquered, masking the natural qualities of wood instead of granting a tactile experience. Daryl began searching for ways to improve the table, deep-diving into the world of woodcraft, and eventually turned it into a small timber furniture business.

The Table Guy founder Daryl Loh
Daryl Loh, founder of The Table guy, seated on The Blafink x Table Guy Slab Sofa 

The Table Guy has come a long way from word-of-mouth operations to a standalone showroom in Outram and a workshop-cum-office in Jurong. Capabilities range from design to customisation and refurbishment – all handled by a lean team of eleven.

timber console
Console in walnut wood

“Our work mainly consists of preparing the material, stripping away the non-essential to make each piece what we consider ‘usable art’,” says Chief Operations Officer, Samantha Zhuang. Every project begins with a raw slab of wood that requires hands-on preparation to turn it into functional timber furniture. This includes flattening the raw surfaces, filling up crevices that unveil along the way, drying the material and bracing cracks to enhance support.

Over the years, they experimented with various finishes using beeswax and hardware oils to bring out the natural beauty of wood. The painstaking process is worthwhile for every tabletop becomes a statement piece in their clients’ homes.

The Table Guy timber furniture
The unique shapes of the timber slabs are retained to create statement-making designs

Some of their favourite customisation work to date includes a convertible game-dining table with in-laid LED lights for a residential client and a table for Kizuna café. Offcuts of the Singapore Mahogany were salvaged to form a pattern – a wooden tapestry of sorts. “It looked like the wood was woven together to create an elevated, elegant product from waste materials,” Samantha says. The design was so popular that it has been recreated in other formats for residential clients.

Kizuna table
Kizuna table uses offcuts of Singapore Mahogany wood

With every piece of furniture produced by The Table Guy, the team considers their impact on the environment. Only wood sourced from globally recognised green-certified timber mills are used. “As we are a small company, the only control we have over our supply chain is in the materials we choose to work with,” explains Samantha. On top of that, they also breathe new life into old furniture, be it by breaking the old furniture down to create something new or giving it a fresh coat. The latter method calls for a process that includes stripping away used layers and resealing new layers with their signature non-toxic, VOC-free hard wax oil finish. Says Samantha: “This is the essence of solid wood furniture – life happens and time will wear down anything, but solid wood can always be restored to new with a bit of care and hard work.”

The Table Guy

This article first appeared in Lookbox Living issue 64

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