Frustrated with not being to find the right furniture for his apartment, Singapore-based designer Camiel Weijenberg of the award-winning firm Weijenberg decided to create an entire enterprise to help likeminded homeowners who are looking for affordable customised storage solutions. We speak to the creator of CUSTO to find out more about the digital furniture designing platform.
What got you interested in architecture and design?
My parents were my first and main inspiration – my father has built his own four-seater motorized aeroplane, while my mum is an active sculptor in clay and ceramics. My grandfather and uncle were contractors and I was always helping them during the summers. So I was always surrounded by people who were constantly building and creating things. Architecture only came into my life in my 20s. High school really wasn’t for me and by then I had already worked as a carpenter for a couple of years. The wood and “real material” had my interest and I picked up the skills quite fast and became confident with the materials.
Why do you like working with wood?
Wood is an honest material that you cannot patch up or paint over. If you make a mistake it will show, if you don’t plan the design properly to suit the wood, it will also show. It demands craft and a strong thinking process early on in the design stage. This to me is part of a craft, it’s something I appreciate and can relate to.
You have worked with prestigious firms Wilkinson Eyre and Zaha Hadid Architects, why did you base your practice in Singapore?
Asia has been a place that always attracted me. And Singapore came into the picture quickly. Its position and the proximity to about two-thirds of the world within half a day travel was one of the factors. After a couple of trips, I started a collaboration with Ernesto Bedmar Architects, and as soon as we finished the project, I opened my own office across the road. Now, I also teach at the National University of Singapore and Singapore University of Technology and Design, and we are working on projects in Asia and Europe again, so Singapore is just the best place to be now.
What was the reason for creating a customised furniture online platform, CUSTO?
My wife wanted furniture and we had a small bedroom and a small living area. Going to a typical store didn’t fulfil our requirements and it simply left so much space unused that I started to think of a different, easier solution.
Why did you decide to give homeowners the opportunity to design their own furniture?
Research and observation show that most cities inside and around Asia have high property prices, meaning every unused square foot is incredibly expensive. Buying very cheap furniture that doesn’t quite fit leaves under-utilised space. CUSTO gives our customers the flexibility to use every centimetre of their home while having elegant and simple designs made for them.
Was it a conscious decision to make CUSTO a purely online platform?
Absolutely. And since we already wanted the convenience of ordering online, why not make it your own self-designed furniture? We really pivot around creating convenience for our customers. With CUSTO you can build and order your furniture from your own sofa. No need to travel into town, using up your precious weekend, only to shop in overcrowded stores.
This was adapted from an article originally published in the June 2018 issue of SquareRooms