In Singapore, Timber Actually should be your first port of call if you want to know more about local timber, or to incorporate a piece of our natural heritage into your home. Handling a variety of local species like Angsana, African Mahogany, Hopea, Raintree and Tembusu, they’re familiar with our local trees and timber at every stage of the process — from gathering felled trees to treating and transforming them into furniture-grade wood.
This Christmas, we had the honour of tapping on their expertise, and embarked on an initiative to celebrate our local trees at our MW Creative Neighbourhood. As the festive season unfolds, we caught up with Timber Actually to look back on the ups and downs of 2022 and got to know their hopes for the year that lies ahead.
A sneak peek at our Christmas project made in collaboration with Timber Actually — the Millenia Walk Seed Tree!
How did Timber Actually come about?
Timber Actually began with the idea of sharing locally grown, locally harvested and locally processed wood with our community in Singapore.
A few years ago, we began to see more and more slabs of solid wood on the market. It was a little heartbreaking to see many people referring to such slabs as a sustainable option. For a 2m by 1m slab, we’re looking at a tree that takes about 60 to 80 years to grow in places like South America or Indonesia, and each big tree yields only one big slab.
One big tree can only produce 1 big table slab but can yield 700 to 800 planks. Get a closer look at some of the logs Timber Actually handles in Stage 1 of The Salvaged Tree Trail, at the South Galleria Entrance, Level 1.
Our intention was to do something truly sustainable with felled local trees. The same big tree can supply 700 to 800 planks, so we focus on producing and promoting smaller furniture pieces, and items like planks and shelves that carpenters can use in their work.
Our journey has involved lots of exploration and experience. There’s no one to teach us about the different local species, or how to judge the amount of usable wood a particular tree might be able to produce — it’s just something we learn through working with wood every day.
To be truly sustainable, Timber Actually upcycles as much of a felled tree as they can by producing and promoting planks and smaller furniture pieces.
What was 2022 like at Timber Actually?
2022 was a rollercoaster of a year. The beginning of the year was particularly challenging for us. For the previous two years, we had focused almost entirely on online retail. As Covid-19 restrictions loosened, fewer people were looking for materials for DIY projects, pushing us to adapt.
The slower periods allowed us to spend more time thinking about our work, researching and developing our technical capabilities and product offerings. Now, we’re able to support more small and medium-scale projects. We’ve gotten to know amazing people and great partners through the projects we’ve worked on thus far.
Over the past year, Timber Actually have been developing their capabilities to be able to support more small and medium-scale projects.
What are Timber Actually’s hopes for 2023?
Product development was a huge part of our work behind the scenes in 2022. We’re hoping to put these prototypes into production in 2023! We’re also looking forward to working with more long-term partners from different industries.
As always, our goal is to continue to find more ways to showcase sustainable and local wood options. When it comes to wood, being sustainable is more than recycling waste wood. In Singapore, we have the luxury of having an abundance of premium yet inexpensive timber resources that have not been put to good use yet. We hope to make local wood more accessible, and to offer quality materials that will last for generations.
The seating blocks in the MW Seed Tree are made of Angsana and Mahogany, but they’re not the only species that Timber Actually works with. Admire the colours and grains of the other local varieties at Stage 5 of The Salvaged Tree Trail at the South Galleria Entrance, Level 2.
What do you hope people take away when they interact with the MW Seed Tree and The Salvaged Tree Trail?
Our team is small, and much of our work is based on feel and intuition. Many of the skilled craftsmen we work with are the last of their trade, like the uncle that sharpens our blades, and the blacksmiths and metalworkers. There’s a lot of heart that goes into it — we put in the time and effort, because we’re the only ones who are doing this work. At the end of the day, we wish to spread our love for local timber, and help people appreciate it as much as we do.
See, touch and unearth the beauty of our local trees through Timber Actually’s handiwork in the Millenia Walk Seed Tree. Fun fact: The ornaments in the MW Seed Tree are based on cross-sections of actual trees at Timber Actually!
Discover Timber Actually’s work in person this Christmas with Our Trees. Follow The Salvaged Tree Trail around MW Creative Neighbourhood to see the different stages of the wood treatment process. At the end of the trail, admire the beauty of our local wood and Timber Actually’s craftsmanship at the Millenia Walk Seed Tree in our Great Hall. Find out more here.