The Piecemaker

Ed Chua creates dream homes piece by modular piece

By Deneb Batucan

 

FROM building structures with Legos to designing houses in The Sims, Ed Chua has now upped the ante and made his pastime a career. From the kid who used to build towns from small Lego pieces, he is now making dream homes from scratch.

BUILDING BIG OR SMALL. Drawing inspiration from iconic Lego pieces, Ed Chua now has his hands full creating modular furniture, while designing architectural projects as well.
BUILDING BIG OR SMALL. Drawing inspiration from iconic Lego pieces, Ed Chua now has his hands full creating modular furniture, while designing architectural projects as well.

Ed is a licensed architect as well as the owner of K’Nex Modular Furniture Design. But even when he is a hands-on business owner, he still accepts architectural or interior projects from time to time. It is a passion of his that he cannot simply put off. But Ed wasn’t always so sure that he was going to build his career as an architect.

Being from a typical Filipino-Chinese family, Ed was inclined to business even as a kid. Growing up, he saw his parents work hard for their family business. “Our business was in the ground floor of our house. I would see my parents wake up early in the morning, and even before showering, they were already working,” Ed fondly recalled.

PURSUITS. While still pursuing his profession as an architect, Ed Chua builds a furniture design business that has its beginnings from a childhood passion of his.
PURSUITS. While still pursuing his profession as an architect, Ed Chua builds a furniture design business that has its beginnings from a childhood passion of his.

Right fit

While studying architecture in the University of San Carlos, there was a time when he seriously thought of giving up. “I thought of stopping or maybe just finishing the course and be a businessman after. But around third or fourth year, I learned to love the course. I felt that it was really a match for me with the personality I have and with the goals that I want to attain. Architecture really fits me. Architects are multitasking people and I can consider myself good in multitasking,” he said.

For two years, Ed did freelance projects as an architect. It was where he found modular furniture. Being very detail-oriented when it comes to finishing, which is one of the final stages in building a structure, he found his niche in modular furniture which utilizes clean lines and sleek designs.

Modular furniture is sort of like professional Lego. A piece of furniture is sectioned into pieces and what’s left to do is just screwing or nailing the pieces together to make it into the beautiful piece that it is. While as a kid, Ed had Legos, today he has these furniture as his “toys.”

“What I love about it is that it’s very simple, but it can turn your space into something else. You have a simple and clean area, but once you have the furniture, it tells a different story,” Ed said. “Also, it is customizable so we always cater it to the client’s taste and mixing it with our own design expertise.”

Fast and versatile

What made Ed fall in love with modular furniture is because it is fast and versatile. It can make anything from closets to beds to kitchen cabinets to tables and so much more for any kind of home, office or commercial place. So long as their materials can make it, they will build it.

The process is also very fast as it cuts labor work in half. A full functioning kitchen can be assembled in just about two weeks. “Knowing that the Philippines is booming, everything is getting faster and busier. Modular furniture is going along with the trend and with the flow of demand of the city,” Ed said.

The boards that make up the modular furniture are moisture resistant and eco-friendly since they use recycled wood, which are laminated then and then painted with UV paint. Ed imports these materials from different manufacturers in Korea.

JOB WELL DONE. Ed is making a name as a strong player when it comes to contemporary cabinetries in Cebu.
JOB WELL DONE. Ed is making a name as a strong player when it comes to contemporary cabinetries in Cebu.

Transition

Even when being a businessman has always been in his blood, Ed notes that he had quite a few adjustments when he transitioned from being an architect to businessman. Ed didn’t want to go into a business that was half-baked. He wants it to last for as long as he can.

“There were a lot of adjustments. Since this is my first business, I can say it’s a big step for me. I didn’t want to start up an unsure business. I want it to be as stable as fast as I want. Of course, now I’m still learning. Every day is a learning process. But I have people who guide me, like my family. I’m very happy that my family is always there for me,” he said.

Next year, Ed will be building something different: his very own family. Ed will soon be married to his girlfriend and business partner on March 26, 2017. Right now they’re in the midst of wedding preparations and Ed is nothing short of ecstatic.

As Ed slowly but surely makes a name as a strong player when it comes to contemporary cabinetries in Cebu, he never forgets one simple but essential tool in building a business: client relations. “I’m very client-based when it comes to my designs. I try to get what the client wants and mix it with my design. Architecture needs to blend with the environment and with itself,” he said.

Photos: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome
Grooming: Carlo Damolo and Jerwin Bastatas
Locale: K’Nex Modular Furniture Design


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