In a perfect world, I live in a home filled with TREE.
Stepping off the elevators on the 28th floor of Horizon Plaza, the strong, earthy aroma of wood captures my senses: it’s intoxicatingly fresh and wholesomely restorative. As my eyes sweep over the massive furniture showroom that is TREE’s flagship in Ap Lei Chau, I find myself twitching with excitement at just how many pieces resonate with me. The clean designs and flawless craftsmanship are omnipresent. The pieces are raw and authentic, and there’s a solidity to them that makes me feel safe. The reclaimed and sustainable wood pieces that cover the shop floor offer up their own distinctive personalities: imperfection breeds character and these tables represent a lifetime of integrity.
Founded in 2005 and currently helmed by managing director Kate Babington, TREE unites contemporary design, a passion for handcrafted artisanship and an underlying ethos of eco-chic to create timeless furniture and home furnishings. TREE was a pioneer in Hong Kong, offering functional pieces that married sophistication and sustainability. The brand’s name, its commitment to environmentally-friendly materials and its mission to give back is no accident. “Most home furnishing companies tend to lead with a lifestyle concept whereas to our knowledge, we’re one of the first brands in Asia to make sustainability an intrinsic part of our DNA,” says Hong Kong born and bred Babington. “We coined the term ‘eco-chic’ here in Hong Kong over ten years ago and still hold firm to the concept today. We are proud to give our customers the confidence that what they’re buying is the real, sustainable deal, on top of the pieces being timelessly beautiful and made to last lifetimes.”
What began as a founder’s passion for recycled Indonesian teak wood has transformed into a steadfast dedication to sourcing naturally beautiful woods, fabrics and handmade objets. The pieces have a real solidity to them. The solid wood used in TREE‘s furniture is either reclaimed and recycled or sustainably sourced. Their reclaimed and recycled teak comes from Indonesia: old fishing boats, railway sleepers, fence posts bridges and old furntire- all are repurposed. In addition, many of their collections are made from wood sourced from responsibly managed FSC™-certified forests in Indonesia, Europe and the US. TREE also gives back to the planet’s natural resources with a mission to keep them replenished by planting thousands of new trees every year as part of a lasting partnership with Trees4Trees, an Indonesian non-profit foundation working to protect natural forests. Over 70,000 saplings (and counting!) have been planted to date.
Many pieces feature one-of-a-kind knots and markings, all natural characteristics of wood that has been exposed to the elements for years and years. As I trace my hands along the myriad surfaces through my TREE showroom tour, I note the comforting feel of the indentation that no manufactured artificial distressing can replicate. “We often welcome customers to our stores who will fall so much in love with an individual piece that they will want to write their names on it to mark it as their own,” enthuses Babington. “They understand that each piece is unique and that they are taking home a piece that is truly one-of-a-kind.” The solidity of the woods, and their age (which you can ascertain by counting the naturally occurring growth rings) proffer a certain character that mass-produced furniture lacks. “Solid woods have this inherent feeling of strength, depth and timelessness and our customers appreciate the exceptional quality it offers. We’ll often see customers knocking and testing the wood,” says Babington as she raps on one of the nearby tables. “What they want is that robust and beautiful solid wood.”
The eco-chic concept and its underlying philosophy seem to have worked. From one TREE store, the brand has grown to three Hong Kong retail locations with more to come soon plus international expansion underway. TREE’s niche concept has also gone undeniably mainstream. The same millenial-forward generation filling their supermarket carts with organic produce, their closets with vintage fashion and their bathroom cabinets with non-toxic cosmetics are the very same looking to adorn their homes with TREE furniture. “Over the past ten years, TREE has transcended and grown so much, says Babbington. “It’s more than a brand-it’s a whole lifestyle, with layers and layers of meaning.”
“It’s absolutely core to all that TREE is that we source and design with integrity” intones Babington. For pieces both big and small, TREE‘s philosophy runs true. Not one to settle for mass manufactured accessories, Babington and her merchandising team scour Asia regularly in order to find the handcrafted collections you find in TREE stores. From abaca to bamboo to sisal, the materials are familiar and earthy. Pieces are unique and have a story to tell. The driftwood lamps are assembled from floating timber found along shorefronts. The vases in jewel-toned hues are made recycled glass, handblown by artisans in Europe. Versatile contemporary chairs which pair perfectly with the eco wood tables around the store are handwoven from durable, FSC-certified craft paper in traditional lloyd loom style. The birdcages are assembled by hand from bamboo.
Of all their locations in Hong Kong, the Ap Lei Chau showroom is the largest by far, and very much worth a visit to explore the sheer vastness of TREE‘s many collections. There are bedroom sets and dining tables galore, sofas and chairs and desks, shelving units and bookcases and armoires…It’s an endless selection with extensive variety: of tones, grains and finishes; in light, medium and dark woods (along with teak, they work with oak and walnut); of fresh, rustic looks and refined, sophisticated aesthetics. I’ll take one of each, please.
TREE Hong Kong Locations:
28/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, +852 2870 1582, Open Daily from 10:30AM to 7PM.
Shop 101 – 102, HomeSquare, 138 Sha Tin Rural Committee Road, Sha Tin, +852 2841 8844, Open Daily from 11AM to 9PM.
116 Man Nin Street, Sai Kung, +852 2791 2802, Open Daily from 10:30AM to 7PM.
All images courtesy of TREE.
This is a Green Queen partner post.