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From Steel Pipes, Racks and Design


Published 22nd August 2017
Furnish Now August 2017

From Steel Pipes, Racks and Design

Furniture is Born


Industrial racks are not a new concept, but because of Eonmetall, they are certainly getting a new design. Out of the storeroom and into the storefront, racks are getting some much needed attention thanks to some revolutionary innovation and ideas.


                               Recently retired as a psychiatrist in America, Dennis has set up his new artist studio in Penang, Malaysia. Dennis is painting his son, Matt, from memory. Pieces from Eonmetall's 180°Rack brand suited perfectly, from the Afisa and Kuhina racks, to the Kope Papa and Huli Tafel, an artist like Dennis has everything he needs at arms’ length of each other.


The Steel Pipe Origin

You don't often find the words "revolution" and "steel pipes" in the same sentence, however, Eonmetall is set to change that. The company, which began as a steel pipe manufacturer, has now evolved into an international business with revolutionary marketing ideas and innovative design geared to impress both residential and commercial consumers.


Kent Goh, the COO of Eonmetall Group and creative director of 180°Design shares how it all began: "In the beginning when my father founded the company, we were focused on making steel pipes. Then one day, a Middle Eastern guy came to my father with the idea of setting up a racking business. Back then, my father understood that there was a demand in the Middle East for racks, so he listened to the client's needs and saw a potential new market."


With the mindset that every generation needs a new revolution, the founding parents of Eonmetall Group jumped at the opportunity to cross borders and pursue a potential new market for their products. Despite the lack of higher education, his father had a keen entrepreneur's acumen, and thus the company began to produce industrial racks. The rest, as they say, is history.


When the time came for Mr. Goh to take over the family business, he admits that it was a bit awkward in the beginning. All home rack products in the market looked alike, plus he discovered some serious quality issues when testing them - he couldn't set up the racks by himself! He knew there had to be a better way and to take the business to greater heights, a revolution was necessary.


He's fond of painting family interests. This is his wife, Teresa, who loves eating crabs. And that is the Afisa Rack - a combination of steel and wood from Eonmetall's 180°Design collection.


Arrival in the Furniture Market



It didn't take long for him to realise that the possibilities were endless. "For example, we found that many work tables don't have good lighting, so we created a table with a LED light. And thanks to printing technology, we can also experiment with patterns and materials like camouflage, flowers, marble or wood."


Now that Mr. Goh had a quality product that could be assembled at home, he just had to figure out how to sell it. How could he sell industrial racks as consumer furniture? Turns out, Mr. Goh had plenty of ideas to accessories and customise the racks for a variety of uses.


"My first idea was to produce the racks in different colours to attract customers. Then I also considered accessories - what if we remove the steel shelving and replace it with a plastic tray? It could serve as a multi-function rack. We could add accessories to turn the racks into planters for different plants," explained Mr. Goh.

And remember that small problem about self-assembly? Eonmetall now has a rack that can be set up in one minute. Not only are these racks simple to use, some of them are also designed for ease of use and transport. "Why do I have a rack that takes me 15-20 minutes to set up? That's a waste of time. So, we designed racks that people can just lock and take out," said Mr. Goh.


On the business side, Mr. Goh operates with a long-term plan. He has a business in mind that will last for generations to come. "My father provided me with the platform, And like everything else, I have to build it step by step, and very slowly. I believe that with a strong base, you can go further," he said.
Gardening and entomology are other enjoyed hobbies... the Kuhina Rack keeping the trinkets well organised.  



      A visit from grandchildren has left their shoes and toys behind (on the Afficher Rack), now happy mementos of time well spent.



The Design Factor

But it wasn't only a good business idea to transform the industrial rack into consumer furniture. Mr. Goh was, in fact, living out his dream to design furniture. Mr. Goh had always wanted to pursue a career in interior design and architecture, however, his father convinced him to go into business instead. He thought he would never have the opportunity to pursue his dreams until he realised he could apply his creativity and design to racks.


"That's why I took the industrial rack and turned it into a home rack. Employing design, I have transformed it [the rack] into furniture," he said.


Look closely and you'll see this is a different version of Dennis's son. Not entirely happy with the first rendition, Dennis has painted him again, later into the evening. Thanks to the Huli Tafel for providing a nice, sturdy platform.


Now, Mr. Goh intends to use design to change the company culture. In fact, he is calling 2017 "the design year". He admits that his company has many engineers, so only the design element is lacking. While Eonmetall Systems' 180°Rack brand came about in 2013, this year, the company added 180°Design to its portfolio.


"There is a gap in the design culture of many furniture companies, and I hope to help change the way people think, even in the industrial market. Old industries are too comfortable and don't want to change. But we need fresh creative minds to change." – Mr. Kent Goh, COO, Eonmetall Group and Creative Director, 180°Design


Going Global

Some people live, eat and breathe their work. Well, Mr. Goh literally dreams about designing furniture – he wakes up with design ideas. But his inspiration doesn’t just come from dreams, it can come from anywhere – from his personal travels, or from attending exhibitions worldwide. “For example, when I saw Swedish furniture, I felt that it had a soul. The way the colours are used made me feel so comfortable,” he said.


In his more than 10 years in the business, Mr. Goh is aware of his competition. There might be a lot of industrial racking businesses in the market, but very few have turned their products into furniture. Eonmetall takes pride in the colours and designs of its racks, making them stand-out from the rest.


          “I would like to change the way people think about racks – that you just don’t put a rack in a storeroom, that like fashion, it can also be very trendy.”– Mr. Kent Goh



 During a painting break, it's nice to have a coffee table nearby for more relaxed pleasures. Kope Papa (which comes with the Noho Stool) can be a coffee-work-table in one.


Read the full story in Furnish Now August 2017


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