In a global financial hub such as Singapore, the conventional pathway for a fresh university graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration would be to join a bank or a multinational conglomerate in Singapore. Instead, Morgan Yeo was determined to keep the legacy of his father’s furniture company alive and joined it full-time in 2014 with his two other younger brothers, Lincoln and Ryan.
Initially started by his father Roger in 1999 as a manufacturer of system office furniture, the company pivoted to a bespoke woodworking studio, and was renamed to Roger&Sons to preserve the legacy of his father’s work.
Morgan explains the reason for the shift, “We wanted to remain relevant to the changing economic climate, incorporate more of our own design elements, and elevate the artistry of carpentry in Singapore. That’s why we shifted to producing bespoke carpentry work, moving away from mass-produced system office furniture.
Pivoting the company to a woodworking studio wasn’t an easy journey, with the company aiming to be environmentally conscious, especially when working with wood as a natural material. Roger&Sons faced challenges such as minimising waste throughout the design to production process, and switching to new environmentally sustainable production methods.
Eco-friendly production also ties in with their design philosophy of function over form – prioritising the function of furniture and objects first and foremost, rather than creating an aesthetically pleasing piece with compromised functionality. They embrace the natural character in the timber they use – such as incorporating a burl in the timber slab into the design to minimise waste and add a unique look to the design.
Fortunately, they have been able to tap into their woodworking team’s combined knowledge and expertise, while injecting some of their own fresh perspective. The intrepid trio can also often be found in the woodworking studio themselves experimenting on new projects and working on client commissions.
“Carpentry and woodworking is seen as a sunset industry in Singapore, with little disruption to the industry in methods and materials. We wanted to bring a fresh perspective by being more environmentally conscious, eliminating methods which are detrimental to the earth, and coming up with new solutions to revitalise the trade”, Morgan shares.
For the past 7 years, Roger&Sons has worked on a number of custom furniture products for different private & commercial clients. One particular project which Morgan recalls is a 11sqm bespoke wine cellar which was designed to house 674 individual wine bottles and 33 wine crates. In order to minimise any impact to the flavours of the wines, the American white oak which was used for the wine cellar was left in a raw state.
On the use of timber for their work, Morgan remarks “We have always been exposed to timber growing up due to the nature of our father’s work, and we have grown even more connected to this material after taking over the business. No two solid pieces of timber are the same, contributing to the uniqueness of each piece of furniture or object we create. We have used American white oak, walnut, ash and occasionally, maple in our work. American timbers are easy and pleasant to work with due to their high quality and therefore predictability.”
Besides American hardwoods, Roger&Sons also uses local timber from trees which were felled for urban redevelopment. Despite the added complexities of using this local wood and its unpredictability, Roger&Sons created The Local Tree Project in 2019 to build consumer awareness and demand for this local wood.
“This ties in with our philosophy of becoming more sustainable and responsible. Thousands of beautiful local trees are currently sitting in sawmills waiting to be turned into mulch or pallet wood. We see an opportunity for them to be made into functional and beautiful furniture or objects, and have been spending time and resources to develop new applications for them. It can take up to 30% longer to work with local wood, and they can face issues of warping or cracking. But ultimately, we want to give Earth the respect she deserves and not waste any of her precious resources”
After 7 years of focusing on bespoke furniture & objects, Roger&Sons has two new priorities for the company; launching a new retail line, and inspiring the next generation of designer-makers.
The new retail line ties in with The Local Tree Project, aiming to better utilise local trees with new eco-friendly practices. This will be coupled with educational workshops for tertiary design students and the general public, to revitalise the woodworking industry and elevate fabrication knowledge among future young designers.
Family businesses sometimes suffer from frayed relationships when personal and professional relationships mix – but the close bond between the three brothers have remained strong and blossomed. While Roger Yeo passed unfortunately passed away in 2013 from cancer, his work and passion for timber and sustainable design continues to live on through the work of Morgan, Lincoln and Ryan.