inspired by a simple malaysian coffee shop traditionally called kopitiam’s [malay for maylaysian shop], its down-to-earth interior and unique material culture, chia lee’s collection offers a glimpse into the new york-based designer’s humble childhood memories and her take on the materiality and the reiteration of traditional crafts. designboom shares lee’s experience and her story about how she came up with an idea for a coffee shop-inspired clothes and furniture collection.


daughter look

 

 

‘the kopitiam collection started off simply as a reflection of my childhood memories of a kopitiam,’ says chia lee. ‘kopitiam is a traditional coffee shop where the locals start their day — it serves a simple breakfast that consists of charcoal-toasted bread with kaya [malaysian coconut] jam, soft-boiled eggs, and homemade coffee.’


bead-weaving in hibiscus pattern

 

 

‘kopitiam’s interior tells the story of how immigrants from china came to nanyang (south sea or south east asia) in the late 18th century, a land they saw as a heaven for prosperity and a life-changing future for their family,’ continues the designer. ‘kopitiam is the evidence of a melting-pot culture started by the hainanese immigrants who called malaysia their second home. societies collided and new cultural practices were formed as the locals and the immigrants lives intertwined.’


grandmother look

 

 

‘at a first glance, there is nothing special about these old establishments, but I was intrigued by the simplicity of interior and the contrasting materials used within the space. everything seems to be cluttered but yet harmoniously interwoven with each other. I hope to portray the beauty within the simplicity of everyday malaysian life and to evoke a sense of nostalgia through the use of crafts and materials within my collection.’


great-grandmother look

 


bead-weaving with raffia embellishments

 


kopitiam interior

 

 

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

 

edited by: maria erman | designboom

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

    PRODUCT LIBRARY

    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    design news