With the aim to salvage fallen trees in Singapore and transform them into sustainable products that are valuable, local woodworking and carpentry firm, Roger&Sons kickstarted the Local Tree Project in 2019.

The family-run woodworking business is committed to utilising local raw materials to create bespoke furniture and other wooden objects, but the management and handling of tropical trees in Singapore was not well-established. The existing technologies available to utilise these local trees and the machinery required to process them are still not fully optimised.

Roger&Sons Director Morgan Yeo shared, “As we work mostly with wood for our projects, we have come to understand that there is a huge gap and lack of sustainable materials available locally. While the growth of eco-friendly materials is on an upward trajectory globally, there are limited options that are viable and accessible for small, local businesses to manufacture furniture in Singapore.”

In early April 2020, DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) introduced Roger&Sons to IPI. Dsg’s Good Design Research Programme, which provides funding from the development to proof-of-concept stages of innovation, was the driving force behind the Local Tree Project. Yeo and his team at Roger&Sons hoped to explore eco-friendly wood stabilisation solutions via IPI’s Innovation Marketplace and global networks so as to overcome the challenges present in local tropical hardwood, i.e. high and uneven moisture absorption that usually results in warping of wood, this is especially so for larger wooden articles, making them unsuitable for use as furniture.

A suitable innovation partner for Roger&Sons was identified by IPI within a month – AICA Asia Pacific Holding, a regional manufacturer of high performance and quality adhesives and surfacing solutions. Roger&Sons continued to receive close guidance from IPI on the drafting of specifications and test standards before experiments on AICA’s developed technology commenced in September 2020.

“IPI has been monitoring this project closely by making sure that we were moving forward on the right track and had essential information to make informed decisions. As an SME that did not have prior research experience with an external partner, the resources and help that IPI rendered allowed us to save cost and time,” Yeo commented.