The multi award-winning Singaporean designer who says that he is still developing his skills
Jerry Low has become one of the region’s best known furniture designers. A decade cutting his teeth in kitchen and retail fixtures was followed by a stint with leading Singaporean furniture retail brand Air Division. Working as part of the in-house design team on product development, Low created the Wind shelf and the Liner Sofa, both award winning, the latter receiving global recognition with a Red Dot design award. Having now spent 10 years at the helm of his own successful studio A Balcony, from which he has launched the hugely successful Jotter Goods brand, Low still has the enthusiasm of someone who has just started out.
Heavily influenced by mid-century modern architecture, Low hopes that the consumers of his designs can be as captured by making process as he is “For every design, regardless of the material, I hope to imbue craftwork into it” he says. “That way, I hope the user is able to feel and share the in interesting process of the making of the furniture”. The focus on craft means solid timber is always the main material choice for Low “It allows me to work on a different scale, from a table or a console unit down to a small handle. The flowing grain and colour of the different species exude a richness and charm which no other material can replace”.
Low’s Wind Shelf combines solid timber with smoked glass shelves which create a louvre like structure and a sense of visual lightness. Conceived to be both display shelf and room divider, the Wind Shelf exemplifies Low’s attention to detail and obsession with fine workmanship. Originally made from Chinese birch, the piece has been recreated in both American cherry and American white oak which add a further layer of quality to a superb design.
One of his favourite designs from the Jotter Goods collection is Low’s ‘old school’ Jotter Desk. Catering for small space living, the desk pays homage to the archetype of wood-working shop furniture but with a fine furniture finish. The desk is practical and compact with a simple structural framework with a solid timber top and slim drawers which accommodate a 13” laptop and A5 notepad perfectly. Small houses made from offcuts are arranged centrally and spaced to allow for wiring to fit snugly between. 2 brass houses on the left of the desk are a stylish touch, embedded magnets mean they sit neatly in place and can be moved to act as paper weights.
Routed trays on the right of the design keep stationery on show but in order. Low selected American white oak for this piece, structurally strong and easy to work, it is perhaps the most highly regarded blond timber on the market. It is also from a proven sustainable resource, something that matters to Low who is amongst the informed designers who take the provenance of their materials into account. “We respect every plank is precious and we keep wastage to a minimum” he says. “Our collaborating companies also play a role in ensuring all our material is sustainably sourced”. This sentiment is reflected in the choice of American timbers, notably American walnut and oak, for the JotterGoods brand.
It is unsurprising that JotterGoods is a soaring success for Low and business partners, Star Furniture. “Currently the collection has over 80 designs, not including those designed in collaboration with Singaporean designers” says Low. “The brand prides itself in delivering good, original design with quality workmanship. Apart from the leading product development team at Star International and their outstanding manufacturing capabilities in China, the brand brings an opportunity for users to experience creations from some of Singapore’s top designers through our different collaborations”.
When top designers are mentioned, Jerry Low shies away from this moniker for himself. More than 10 years after leaving Air Division he says he is both humbled and honoured to have been invited back to assist the design team on art and brand direction and product development. “It’ll be interesting growth for me” he says “My role as principal designer for JotterGoods will be ongoing and I’m looking forward to more fruitful collaborative work with new designers. I don’t see myself as a “top designer” – it’s always going to be a learning journey for me”.