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Ernie Koh Julian Koh

Sawdust is in our blood both


Ernie and Julian Koh have said that
on separate occasions. Uncle Ernie,
48, and his nephew, 28, are just
part of several Kohs working in the
family business, but they complement
each other when it comes to running
Commune. The furniture store is the
retail arm of Koda (the familys furniture
manufacturing business), and known for
its contemporary in-house designs made
mainly of wood.
Established by Julians grandfather
three decades ago, Koda concentrated
solely on OEM (original equipment
manufacturer) contracts until Julian
joined the family business two years
ago and convinced his family to invest
a little in his dream of going retail. It
was tough to get them on my side at first
because manufacturing is about costsavings, while retail requires a little more
investment, recalls Julian, Communes
creative director.
Ernie, with his design background
and experience in sales, heads the
marketing department and is often the
one who keeps these conflicting interests
in check. My father and Julian have very
different ideas about what retail means,
and I try to balance that. I also have to
be professional in spite of the family
ties, says Ernie of the implications of
working with many family members.
Besides venturing into retail and
more recently F&B with Communes
in-house cafe Julian has set his sights
on designing more innovative pieces.
Finding that the multi-functional furniture
sold here is too modern and unfriendlylooking, he intends to show how more
versatility can be incorporated into
warm, retro-industrial wooden pieces.
We always want to offer that element of
surprise, says Julian confidently.

Ernie Koh and his


nephew Julian Koh

To ensure our
retail offerings
dont stagnate,
well be
experimenting
in our in-house
design lab
to create
smart wooden
furniture.
Julian

text mavis ang photography darren chang art direction kaffy tan

46

Family Business: Home furnishings store Commune