From contemporary rattan furniture to chic ceramic tableware, here are the best places to shop local in Malaysia
Local artisanal crafts are making a comeback in Malaysia, whether that’s a contemporary spin on classic rotan furniture or a modern twist on the traditional batik. Stray from the standard run-of-the-mill souvenir offerings and pick up some unique home accessories handcrafted by artisans across the country instead. Here are 6 of the best independent brands and makers in Malaysia to shop local.
Each rustic-chic dining plate, serving bowl and coffee mug by self-taught ceramicist Lee Ee Vee is hand-finished and glazed in a cool palette of whites, blues and greys, all made by Lee herself. She has also designed a collection of tableware and furnishings for the likes of ATAS restaurant and newly opened boutique outfit KLOE Hotel in KL. Her stuff is produced in small batches and sells out quickly, so stay tuned.
Shop thirty3eleven here.
2. Kedai Bikin
Contemporary rattan furniture and architectural fittings like this concrete and copper tap (pictured above) will add one-of-a-kind touches to your home. Designed by co-founders and architects Farah Azizan and Adela Askandar, founders of design firm Studio Bikin, Kedai Bikin grew out of a pop-up store in Publika’s Art Row in Kuala Lumpur. The design duo wants to celebrate Malaysia’s rich craft heritage; some of their standout pieces include the modern take on the old-school cord chairs and a traditional Bidayuh basket from Sarawak, just to name a few.
Shop Kedai Bikin here.
3. Gerai OA
Gerai OA is the first social enterprise in Malaysia that works with Orang Asli and Orang Asal communities all over Malaysia. This nomadic, volunteer-run founded by researcher Reita Rahim sells homeware and handicrafts made by women from various indigenous tribes, such as the Jakun and Mah Meri. Some wares sold includes handwoven crafts, books and other products, and all revenue goes to the artisans. Check out their Facebook page to see when the next pop-up in KL will be taking place.
Read more: 5 trendy local brands modernising the batik
4. Rotan Lot
Rotan Lot is making rattan cool again. Founder Nana Khan employs local craftspeople and artisans to create stunning furniture. Some of the styles you may have grown up with in your grandparents’ homes, while others lean modern. “I grew up in a multicultural family of Chinese and Malay parentage and it was common for my family to have rattan pieces in their homes,” Nana says. “I want to make them a favourite in homes again.” Swing by the new showroom in Selangor’s Subang Jaya to check out a stunning collection of loungers, day beds, head boards and lots more.
Shop Rotan Lot here.
5. Bendang Studio
The stylish tableware by contemporary ceramics workshop Bendang Studio can be spotted in trendy restaurants and hotels all over KL. And with a newly opened store in the city centre, the beautiful plates and bowls by founder Rozana Musa can be a feature on your next dinner party setup. Rozana favours an organic, abstract style with plenty of artful splatters of glaze and colour.
Shop Bendang Studio here.
6. Kita Kita
Forget kitschy mugs or magnets – Kita Kita is the kind of souvenir shop you’d be happy to browse for hours. The store, sources crafts and products made by artisans from all around the country, selling beautiful jewellery, textiles, accessories and more. Part of their profits go towards initiatives that help local artisans and producers. Swing by their brick-and-mortar store in KL’s The Republik or shop them online.
Shop Kita Kita online here.
7. Chocolate Concierge
Chocolate Concierge is out to prove that single-origin chocolate made right here at home in Malaysia, using local raw materials, can also be world-class. Using cacao beans grown and processed in Pahang, the Malaysian pioneer crafts truffles, bars and brittles inspired by traditional flavours. Try its filled chocolates that pay homage to classics like teh tarik, onde onde and cendol.
Shop Chocolate Concierge here.
T’lur Caviar, Malaysia’s first caviar brand, is the only tropical caviar producer in the world. When founder Chien Wei Ho moved to Malaysia from Taiwan in 2008, he had decades of experience farming sturgeon and was determined to make it work here too. Over the years, he struggled to rear the cold-water fish in tropical Perak – experts said that even if the sturgeon matured, they’d never product quality caviar. Nonetheless, he persisted and today, T’Lur’s caviar has won fans over with its clean, distinct flavours, owing to its freshwater source.
Shop T’Lur here.