Where did you learn carpentry? “My family was in the business of restoring traditional Chinese furniture. We specialised in everyday household pieces from the Qing dynasty. Growing up, we learned how to restore antique wooden furniture. Typically, furniture joints loosen up over time, so we learned how to dismantle them before putting them back together. This knowledge serves me today for Elmood’s solid wood pieces.”

Why did you start Elmood and what’s behind the name? “After the 2000s, the antiques business changed - sourcing of domestic antiques became more difficult - so we were looking for another revenue stream while at the same time making use of our knowledge of wood. The major wood type used for furniture in China was elm. When I was trying to come up with a name last year, elm came to mind and I put ‘mood’ to it.”

Are all of Elmood’s pieces made using traditional techniques? “No, we don’t box ourselves in by just using the traditional joinery system. We use different skills and techniques to create many shapes; by keeping an open mind, our design vocabulary can be more varied. One example is cross-laminated timber, which is seldom used in furniture production. While it’s tricky to manage the moisture and thickness levels, it’s also very lightweight and strong.”

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What influences Elmood’s designs? “The brand is very much inspired by Scandinavian furniture, especially that from Denmark. Many years ago, I became good friends with a Danish customer, who I had the opportunity to visit in his home country. This is how I was introduced to this new style. Danish furniture is a lot more ‘human’. One of the major comments we used to get when selling Chinese furniture was that the style and craftsmanship were beautiful, but it was not very comfortable. Danish furniture is more user-friendly.”

Tell us about your craftsmen. “Elmood is a Hong Kong company but our craftsmen work from a warehouse in Panyu, Guangdong. They typically have a background in antiques and work using older styles of mechanics, joints and woodwork. I spend a lot of time discussing with them new ways of creating furniture. With the help of the internet, I am able to show them the methods available around the world, which helps them to feel both inspired and excited.”

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What does sustainability mean to you? “Through my family business, I started off working with recycled wood, including old beams and construction material. But because this kind of material has become scarce, I changed focus to designs that would not require me to rely on such a limited supply. But if you just cut trees without replenishing them, sooner or later you would have no more materials left. This is why I choose to be part of the Forest Stewardship Council system [which promotes responsible management of forests]. It means that we as a company are doing things properly.”