The imagery of passion is extremely unlikely to conjure up a thought about discipline. While both terms seem to belong in different universes, they pretty much work hand-in-hand together to bring about success.
Allan Tham, the founder of local furniture label Soggiorno, possesses both passion and discipline in running his furniture business. His drive is what pushed him to venture into his own business to create a legacy for himself. But it was discipline that made him stay in his previous job long enough to acquire the experience and know-how to drive his passion.
Believing that fine quality furniture can be affordable, Allan work for Soggiorno continues to be fuelled by his dedication. Read on and be inspired…
Nookmag (N): Tell us more about Soggiorno and what it represents?
Allan (A): Soggiorno means living space in Italian and it represents everything we do. Similarly, our logo reflects who we are. It is coloured grey because grey is a very neutral colour as it blends into every environment that has a story behind it. This conveys that most of our furniture can blend into most of the home environments very nicely. Through the elegant and feminine fine lines, the crown signifies prestige and empowerment.
The idea for this furniture company was actually conceived seven years ago. I noticed that the market lacked a furniture showroom that sells decent furniture with beautiful aesthetic, affordable price and most important of all, comfort. And Soggiorno aims to deliver all these.
It has always been my dream to own a business in furniture. And it only happened recently as I wasn’t financially ready seven years ago. It takes a lot of capital to start it right and I also learnt from my friends’ experiences and mistakes in this business.
N: It’s nice to know that you personally get involved in the most intricate process of furniture-making.
A: Before this, I was working at an Australian furniture company called Schiavello that collaborates with Swiss furniture giant Vitra. Schiavello is the number one player for furniture in Australia and thanks to them, I have gained a lot of in-depth knowledge about furniture from construction like how to build a product to aesthetics and even ergonomic purposes.
Every two quarters of the year, I would fly down to Schiavello’s headquarters in Melbourne and Vitra’s factory in Germany for product training, product evaluation and market evaluation.
I’ve been living, breathing, eating and sleeping furniture ever since I started working in this industry.
N: Have you always known that you were going to be in this line of work?
A: It all started when I found out that I enjoy doing sales. I like interacting with people and making them smile. Over the years, I’ve also discovered my passion for beautiful objects. I always want to understand what designers are inspired by when they design something. And this curiosity is what keeps the passion burning inside me. Eventually I found myself in the furniture business which was the perfect fit.
Soggiorno simply desires to deliver beautiful things in a beautiful living area. When customers purchase the right products for their house, it makes them smile. And that makes my day.
N: How does the future look like for Soggiorno?
A: We plan to bring Schiavello into the regional market to neighbouring countries like Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Bangkok within 24 months. In these growing cities, there is a lot of hunger and need to house beautiful products in a cosmopolitan area.
Soggiorno is working towards becoming a leading local furniture retailer that makes eco-friendly and sustainable furniture. That is something that we focus very strongly on. To go green, it takes a lot of knowledge and effort to reduce the contribution of carbon to Mother Earth.
For example, we use fabric that has minimal petroleum. If you notice, one common material that is used to make fabric is polyester, which is a kind of plastic that derives from petroleum. We try to use 100% cotton or other eco-friendly or recycled materials in our products. As wood is used in our factory to build the carcass for sofas, coffee tables and beds, we also make sure that the wood supplier complies with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
These are small contributions on our part to help minimise carbon footprint on Mother Earth. I acquired my knowledge from my previous company as being environmentally friendly is already a culture in Australia. For many modern manufacturers today, it is their own social responsibility to understand their contribution of carbon to the environment even though it is very tedious as there are a lot of processes to follow.
N: What motto do you work by?
A: One word – consistency. It’s not easy to achieve but it’s very important in the business. It involves having high expectations of myself to deliver the right products to the consumers. At the end of the day, it all goes down to respecting our consumers and friends who believe in and are fond of beautiful products.
The Soggiorno Furniture Gallery is now opened at Zervex 8 Ubi Road 2 #01-11/12. Visit Soggiorno’s Facebook page for more information.