Raw, imperfect and vulnerable are three very human qualities that we often tend to mask, because our perception of beauty is in perfection. Kate Ngo’s philosophy in her life and her art challenges that, and embraces the idiosyncrasies that glorify uniqueness.
Kate’s respect for the natural quality of the materials and her skill in furniture design are reflected in her furniture pieces, both in the process and the end result. Along with a dedicated team of craftsmen, Kate sees to it that each piece is made with as little unnatural mediums as possible. Alternatives, such as fire to darken and vinegar to lighten wood, are used. Instead of nails and screws, traditional joinery techniques are applied to put things together.
“Start with the material. Everything else follows,” Kate says about her design process in creating quality furniture made from select local hardwoods. One piece that represents Kate’s bold and soulful aesthetic is the six-seater Tugas slab, because, according to her, it has “no excess. Each groove is natural, and each line serves a function.”
For Kate, our life revolves around design, from waking up in a bed specifically made for comfort to driving a car with innumerable parts designed to support each other. There is intent. In art, creating is more internal—an expression of oneself. Design, on the other hand, is outward, and goes beyond form and aesthetics. Ergonomics and functionality, like the way the piece will affect the way the client lives for years on end, must be considered.
“A good dining table will encourage family to gather around and share conversations any time of day,” Kate explains. “A well molded chair will encourage the user to sit a little longer, to linger with a book, to maybe brew a good cuppa, and return with a light heart, and leave well-rested.”
Getting inspiration from everything—one dining table was created after staring at a screw for a long time—and constantly seeing room for improvement after finishing a piece is the balance of being an artist and a designer, and it’s a balance that Kate embodies effortlessly.