When I first embarked on designing display tools for WoonHung Natural Collection, it was a daunting task. It started in 2014 when I had just finished launching in Japan and brought the collection back to Singapore.
Several challenges popped in my head. My mind was working around the idea of flexibility in translating a visual presentation of the brand into any given space. It had to be lightweight, compact and modular. Something that fits as well as tears apart effortlessly. The list of critieria seemed endless. How do I build in phases, like a jigsaw puzzle that can be configured multiple ways with future modular parts not yet built? The fear of making mistakes haunted me.
I wanted to build pieces that were everlasting in appeal, inexpensive and stretched the possibilties through visual merchandising techniques. Which was why I built one display unit at a time, in bite-size rather than chunks of interlocking pieces. In part, it is very hard to envision a complete set of multiple units coming together. I was better at iterations and played that to my advantage. And in part, cost was another limiting factor.
The guiding principle behind everything built centres around simple modules - flexible when unfolded for displays, and nesting together for easy storage and mobility. With an ease for one person to manoeuvre each part to form larger units and the ability to piece into different configurations, while keeping to a cohesive look.
The first piece built was the wooden tray in two sizes. Two more sizes were added a year later to add variety to displays. Then came the collapsible table display boards. Thereafter, the floor standing display boards - a human-size version from the smaller table boards built earlier. Next came the stackable table legs made separate from table tops, allowing different table heights and table top sizes at my choice for depth and interest. Piece by piece, every six months to a year later, a new unit was built. Each one increasing the usage of earlier units built.
To say everything falls into place is an overstatement. It will probably never be completed. I marvel at the journey thus far. While trying to solve new challenges as they appear, each new piece has added flavor to the current family of building blocks. It is only in retrospect, a visible pattern started forming.
I get the drive to work everyday, despite at times, I am on the verge of pulling my hair out and exasperating the people around me. But I really do, and sincerely, embrace the challenges that crossed paths with me. Patience in facing the obstacles has been my biggest takeaway. It is shaping my journey, honing my skills and developing WoonHung deeper as a person.
Stackable table legs, lifted separately from table top. The units were designed for a single person to manage alone.
Left: Handling units that are larger than the size of a person. | Right: Behind the scenes at Essential Extra Gift Shop in May 2018.
Units made from raw plywood. A cost-effective and abundantly found material in Asia.
Left: Stacking table trays and nesting storage boxes | Right: Collapsible floor-standing display boards at the background. In front, focal-point table set-up, in two different sizes and heights, using the same A-frame legs consistent to all of WoonHung display units.
Takeaway literature expounding the beauty of White Wood and what WoonHung stands for.
Working on the finishing touches. As the saying goes, "Retail is detail", but sometimes, damn those details. There is so much in retail that goes unnoticed but completes the brand story. I am still trying to close the gaps.
The Dot Bib necklaces displayed on our floor-standing display baords, finished with a wood lasercut logo 'floating' on the board.
Some of the earlier pieces were ready-made, like these wooden trays, from H&M Home on one of my trips in Cebu. A rare find and has helped formulate my thoughts on displays.
Handling a table top alone. The metal shelves at the background were our best finds from Ikea. These cost-savings shelves have been serving us close to 20 years. It is also one of the inspirations drawn when the time came to design our very own modular system. Reused in various different setting, it is now home to Essential Extra Gift Shop. We reuse, recycle and upcycle everything we lay our hands on.