‘I met co-founders Paul Hoeve and Lay Koon Tan by chance because we are both based at Great Western Studios in West London – it was a genuine water-cooler moment, I knew we were kindred spirits as soon as I heard their story and realised how passionate they were about nurturing craft.’
‘The opportunity to work with these incredible materials, and apply them to furniture for the first time, has been really exciting, especially as it will expand their reach and expand their stewardship of Filipino craftspeople.’
When Paul Hoeve and Lay Koon Tan founded Nature Squared in 2001, it was with the express purpose of re-imagining sustainable natural materials – waste, by-products of other industries and fast-growing natural materials – and transforming them into beautiful surfaces fit for the pinnacle of the luxury market using master-craftsmanship and cutting-edge technologies. Exploring Eden is the first collection to come out of a new partnership between Nature Squared and award-winning British designer Bethan Gray. It brings Bethan’s passion for telling stories with craft and design together with almost two decades of living and breathing sustainability and social responsibility in natural materials.
‘Creating objects of outstanding beauty and quality is absolutely at the core of ensuring that the materials we work with are recognised and cherished,’ says Lay Koon Tan. ‘There is a groundswell of desire for change, and we hope that such recognition translates into greater acceptance of holistic sustainability and the importance of balancing the needs of the environment with social and economic health.’
Nature Squared’s 200 craftsmen have pioneered applications such as banana bark ceilings, eggshell bathtubs and feather dashboards and their surfaces appear in 92% of the world’s superyachts – yet they are virtually unknown. The Exploring Eden collection of furniture and accessories brings previously unseen materials, skills and techniques to the attention of a wider audience, enabling further stewardship of craftspeople in the Philippines and beyond.
‘The more we find a market for what we produce, the more we create a virtuous circle of jobs, appreciation for materials that are currently seen as waste, acceptance of sustainable practices, and self-belief in our people. In Bethan, we have found a like-minded partner and we are delighted to be working with her on this collection,’ says Lay Koon Tan.
The collaboration resonates with Bethan’s love of natural materials and her nurturing approach to craft, which involves enduring partnerships with master craftsmen and women based on mutual trust and respect.