Andrew Tan, co-founder of atomi in Mandarin Gallery shares his favourite and most popular buys in store, and where he shops when overseas.
28 July 2017
Text by Janice Seow
Andrew Tan and his wife Mitsuko Murano, co-founders of atomi, have a great love for Japanese design, and a gift from bringing in exclusive and coveted Japanese furniture and lifestyle brands to the Singapore market. With so many lovely brands in store, from ACTUS häuse to Hiromatsu Furniture Inc to Hirota Glass, we get Andrew to spill the beans on his personal favourite products in store, where he shops, and what’s most popular with customers.
What’s your personal favourite product in the store at the moment – or of all time?
My favourite product in the store currently is the Sake Pourer Set. This Sake Set is created by a maker in Tokyo – Hirota Glass Co. Ltd. Something that I really like about the maker is that throughout their 116 years of crafting, they have continued to create glassware by hand. They have dedicated themselves to the creation of products that possess an endearing warmth that is often lacking in machine-manufactured glassware. Likewise, for this Sake Set, much thought has been given to the design. The pourer incorporates an ice holder making it easy to chill sake without diluting the drink. Personally, I serve sake using this set to my friends and family. At times, we also conduct sake tasting sessions at the shop using glassware in the shop and the monthly sake we bring in.
Where do you like to shop when overseas?
I travel to Japan very often to source for new ideas and products for the store. Two of my favourite places are Tamagawa Rise and Slow House (Shinagawa site). These are mixed-use establishment with a combination of F&B and retail activities. I frequent the two establishments because they are not overtly commercialised, nor too touristy and they carry unique Japanese homegrown brands. Usually when I am there, I will immerse myself in the retail scene, people-watch, gather some inspiration and collect some information on the latest trends in Japan.
Which of your store’s products do you have at home?
I have quite a fair bit of the store’s products at home, from furniture to lifestyle items. For my living area, I have the Laulu sofa from ACTUS häuse, the CORNICE TV Board and the Marni 60 Oak Frame Chair. Storage wise, I use the AMICO Bookshelf (without backing) for books, ac-cent KIBAKO and the ac-cent Brick Block. I furnish my dining area with the Hiroshima Dining table (Oak) and Hiroshima Arm Chairs (Oak). I top it up with lifestyle items like the donut coffee dripper, copper cups and series of cups made by Yumiko iihoshi.
What are some of the most popular buys in your store?
The most popular buys in the store are the Copper Ice-Cream Spoon, ACTUS häuse Lette Sofa, Hiromatsu RIPOSO sofa and Hiromatsu SONO sideboards. The Copper Ice-Cream Spoon is especially popular as it is carefully designed to allow the heat from our hands to be transferred to the tip of the spoon, making it easy to cut through the ice-cream and even ice. Furniture wise, the Hiromatsu SONO Sideboards are really popular as it incorporates six different natural oil wood, giving it a sense of playfulness amidst its functionality.
How do you decide which brands/products to carry in your store?
There is no particular way through which I decide what products should be carried in the store. At times, it can be through invitation for visits by or to the prefectures in Japan.
With atomi’s focus on Japanese Designs x Comfortable Lifestyle, we have also attracted many Japanese brand owners and businessmen who visit us personally in Singapore [which can lead to potential partnerships]. On other occasions, customers come to atomi to request for certain items or brands. We listen to all the requests and off we go in search of such products and items. Likewise, the atomi team members are also free to provide ideas or suggestions. Following which, I will also make it a point to visit the factories of the relevant brands to meet up with the owner, designers, craftsmen and the team behind the products, crafts and furniture. This allows me to understand more about the company, their philosophy behind their creations, product manufacturing process and build long lasting relationships. We will then conduct further research on the products or brands before finally deciding whether or not to carry them.
We adhere to the following when we source our products. It must be made in Japan; and/or designed by a Japanese; and represent “Japanese designs x Comfortable lifestyle”.
Also see Shopping Secrets with Supermama.
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