I’ve loved Originals furniture ever since I arrived in Singapore as a 26-year-old singleton in 2006. The brainchild of founder Geri Murphy, back then Originals was a small furniture warehouse in the artist enclave of Gillman Barracks. And I simply couldn’t resist investing in a stunning turquoise vintage cabinet from Rajasthan that I found there. Unique and expertly restored by the Originals team, the cabinet retains pride of place in my living room today, showcasing keepsakes from my travels.
While Originals still stocks an extensive range of Indian up-cycled storage solutions, I’ve watched the brand evolve enormously over the last 20 years (yikes, I’m showing my age here!). In particular, it has managed to expand its offerings without compromising the cornerstones of craftsmanship, quality, sustainability and affordability
The Sime Darby furniture warehouse days
By collaborating with award-winning designers and skilled artisans, Originals grew its range to include all types of indoor furniture – from living and dining, to bedroom and one-of-a-kind home décor. A bigger space was sorely needed, so the Sime Darby destination store was born.
I distinctly remember the moment I sank into the heavenly cushions of the Beccy L-Shaped Fabric Sofa on a shopping trip with my neighbour to the furniture warehouse. She snapped one up on the spot, and we went on to enjoy many rituals of daily life on that couch over the years (innumerable cups of tea and the odd gin and tonic). My friend has now repatriated, and the pale blue linen beauty is just as at home on the shores of Noosa, Australia as it was in a Singapore cityscape. I’m yet to find a more comfortable sofa!
Success through sustainability
If I could point to one reason why Originals furniture in Singapore has gone from strength to strength, it would have to be the focus on sustainability. Not only does the brand give a new lease of life to antique pieces, it also builds new from sustainable resources. It does this by selecting partners with a proven track record of treating both people and the planet with respect.
The store’s Jasdep Singh is passionate about a “made for life” ethos and doesn’t want customers to ever throw out their furniture. The sofas by design have removable washable covers, so you can refresh your look even years down the track (don’t worry, they won’t go out of stock!). And you can always add a complementary piece – an extra armchair, for instance – after the fact, if the mood takes you.
Sleek new showroom
The move to the huge furniture warehouse space at Bukit Batok in 2019 brought with it a re-brand and the new Originals Outdoor range. The showroom is as serene as a swan, but there’s furious paddling beneath the surface. New shipments are regularly arriving from around the globe; from handwoven rugs from Turkey, to tribal accents from Africa, solid teak consoles from Java, and soft furnishings from France, to name just a few.
But some things stay the same, like the ever-knowledgeable Nikki, who has been welcoming customers at Originals since day one. She really knows her stuff and can help guide you with your purchases, highlighting customisable features and fabrics.
While great design speaks for itself, it helps that the space is styled into a series of conceptualised rooms. Table lamps, vases and other signature accents are artfully placed, creating beautiful vignettes. I felt a tingle of excitement that with a few carefully curated items I could refresh and transform my own home.
The challenges of COVID
Every business faces challenges, and the pandemic was a curve ball that no one saw coming. Fortunately, Originals furniture in Singapore had already successfully established its online platform. The online shop is intuitive, a joy to navigate and makes shopping a breeze.
If the recent years taught us anything, it was that some things are beyond our control. The closing of international borders made it impossible to travel to source products. It also impacted the timing and cost of shipments. Restrictions and intermittent closure of the bricks-and-mortar store made connecting with people on a personal basis tricky (thank goodness for Zoom).
The secret to Originals’ longevity is its ability to take challenges in its stride and emerge out the other side stronger.
A bright future
With the world all but completely opened up post COVID, it’s an exciting time ahead for Originals furniture in Singapore. Plans are afoot for some much-needed travel to source new products. I have it on good authority that Mexico is high on the list. Hola!
This is a brand which is aspirational at every age. It appeals to me as much today as a mum of four kids with a rambling house to style as it did when I lived in a compact apartment. I’ve got my eye on a few pieces right now. One thing’s for sure, the Originals story is far from over – and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Originals is at 1 Bukit Batok Street 22, #05-02/03
This article first appeared in the October 2022 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!