When I turned 40, a group of my friends wanted to gift me something significant and memorable. Forever a fan of bone-inlay and mother-of-pearl, I chose to head to Hacienda Blue for a special piece of made-to-order furniture for my home. Here’s why…
I’ll never forget the moment I first set eyes upon an exquisite bone-inlay piece of furniture from Hacienda Blue. Nine years ago now, I’d just moved back to Singapore for a second stint and had popped into an old friend Anna’s place for a coffee. The striking navy blue leaf patterned cupboard was breathtakingly beautiful and it instantly elevated the design aesthetic of her living room. My love affair with mother-of-pearl furniture had begun, and I coveted a piece of my very own made-to-order furniture.
I browsed a few stores carrying bone-inlay furniture but was disappointed by the quality and finish. I noticed that, unlike my friend Anna’s piece, the cupboard doors didn’t sit exactly flush, the door handles were plastic rather than carved bone, and the drawers didn’t close with a satisfying silence. So I made an appointment at the Hacienda Blue showroom on Woking Road for a consultation. Designing my stunning made to order furniture with them was a wonderful experience from start to finish. Here are five things that stood out about the process and the piece.
Chatting with founder JOSEPHINE BLUNCK gave me an insight into the core values of the Hacienda Blue brand. “Fabricating high-quality products and made to order furniture is a hugely important part of our business. It’s not only our primary focus but also our guarantee; this is why we’ve been in business for 12 years,” she says.
Josephine was thrilled to hear that I could see a marked difference to her competitors in terms of quality, attention to detail, and beauty in design. The fact that multiple interior design studios use the brand as their go-to inlay designer business for custom-made pieces also speaks volumes.
Over the years, the team at Hacienda Blue has learnt how to create pieces that last a lifetime. “The structures are solid and will last a house move, an international move or even just a move to the next room,” says Josephine. “Our furniture doesn’t fall apart!”
Maybe this is why they have many loyal repeat customers. Before relocating to Melbourne my friend Anna slipped a couple more gorgeous mother of pearl pieces into her shipping container, and happily they survived the journey intact! They serve as a quintessential Singapore memory.
I must admit that I was unsure about the ethics and sustainability of bone-inlay manufacture. Josephine speaks reassuringly on this point: “Over an extended period of time we’ve created a sustainable business model. Our inlay is sourced through government agencies, which means we know it’s camel bone and mother-of-pearl and not another animal bone or plastic.” She also knows exactly where the wood comes from and the process it has been through to ensure that it’s wood-bora-free and won’t swell or warp in the Singapore humidity. “All of these factors mean that we may charge more, but once you see, touch and feel our products, you’ll know the difference,” she adds.
It’s hard not to agree. I recently watched a friend pay upfront for a cheaper bespoke product online that was delayed month after month and never arrived. She finally received a refund six months later, and was exhausted by the experience. There’s something to the old adage, “You get what you pay for”. It gives me peace of mind to know that Hacienda Blue has worked with the same artisans for ten years and has built strong, family-like relationships with manufacturers.
Perhaps the best part of my shopping experience at Hacienda Blue was the impeccable customer service. The team really knows its stuff when it comes to design and functionality. On arrival at the showroom, I’d earmarked a set of bold-hued traditional bedside tables for my birthday gift. After a friendly styling session showcasing new products, I left with a bespoke order for a pale grey-toned TV cabinet with brushed brass contemporary feet.
When I received my piece on my birthday, it really exceeded my expectations. It’s the first thing I see when I walk through the door after a busy day and it never fails to put a smile on my face. I’m glad I went for the TV cabinet as, unlike bedside furniture, my guests can enjoy it too.
What’s kept me coming back to Hacienda Blue in the years since my 40th is that there’s always something new to see in-store. The team loves designing and is perpetually coming up with fresh and modern patterns, colours, styles and materials. While famous for their inlay, they’re also known for divine table lamps, super soft cashmere and chic homewares. Now that lampshades and artworks have been added to the offering, Hacienda Blue is the perfect place for stocking up on signature Christmas gifts for the festive season.
This article first appeared in the November 2022 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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