Commune – Elevating The Customer Experience

by Margie T. Logarta

Commune Directors Joshua Koh,
Julian Koh and Gan Shee Wen

Respecting nature in everything it does, Commune focuses on recreating the earthy experience within its stores through the frequent use of exotic plants and decorations evocative of the natural environment.
Commune, a home-grown Singapore design and lifestyle company, is fast expanding beyond the island state into the promising overseas markets of Malaysia, China and Australia.

Established in 2011, Commune is committed to crafting high quality artisanal works for the style-savvy customer, encouraging product lines that are human-centric, beautiful and meet the needs of the end user. Not forgetting environmental concerns, it works with wood from sustainable sources in the US and Asia as well as lacquers and coatings boasting low lead content.

Smart solutions

Commune directors Joshua Koh, Julian Koh and Gan Shee Wen emphasise that each of their living, dining, bedroom and study collections provides smart solutions for working professionals and urban dwellers. Each piece is sized to fit comfortably within the small spaces so typical of today’s modern hubs, while price points have been purposely made reasonable to cater to different pockets.

Achieving Commune’s singular product lines, its directors say, is reached by “collaborating closely with like-minded people from a myriad of cultures (in order) to bring consumers a unique retail experience that engages all their senses.

“We seek partners, who are willing to join us in recreating the home shopping experience… The retail experience is key for us – we place importance on inspirational layouts and a shop that stands out from the crowd. All aesthetic elements of the store are meticulously matched to augment the visual impression of the collections.

Customer experience

“Our attention to detail extends beyond designing the furniture, into elevating the retail experience to put the customer at ease, creating areas that appeal intuitively and vividly to a customer’s six senses – sight, sound, smell, speech, touch and emotion.”

Commune has also introduced new technology through “a 3D floorplanner and VR experience that allows consumers to better visualise their living spaces with our products re-created in a digital environment”. This helps, it believes, to instill greater confidence in the consumer in the company’s products and leads to higher sales.

The innovative approach complements other solutions in the inventive Commune Experience Centre on Defu Lane in Singapore. Here, customers can experiment with mood boards and play with swatches, curtains, carpets and sofa customisation before they decide what they wish to buy. “With this, we have been able to provide added value and convenience to the consumer when they come into our store to understand how our furniture can work well with their interior design plans,” the directors say.

In the Lion City, competition for the attention of discriminating Singaporeans comes from outfits such as BoConcept and Hay.

A customer tries out Commune’s cutting-edge 3D planning and VR software to visualise their home

The 8,000 sqft Commune Experience Centre in Singapore was created to provide a holistic home furnishing experience.
Through the use of ambient mood lighting, Commune’s stores are designed to be warm and relaxing environments that soothe the modern urbanite’s senses.

Multiple inspirations

How does one describe the Commune’s particular aesthetic? “It is never fixed,” the directors say in a joint statement. “We constantly have an eye on the pulse of the international design world, and seek inspiration from international design trends, but not just in furniture. We are inspired by youthful and popular movements in fashion, or become inspired by shared heritage, the evocations of nostalgia, travel, nature and our surroundings or our emotions.”

Facets of this philosophy are shared by a network of Commune partners that has encouraged it to grow from the flagship store in Millenia Walk and two lifestyle concept boutiques in Paragon and IMM as well as the Commune Experience Centre in Defu Lane – all in Singapore – to 40 outlets across China, three in Malaysia and one in Australia. The plan is to expand its overseas footprint further, opening 100 new franchise stores over the next two years, 70 percent of them in China.” The rest of Asia-Pacific will follow.

Commune collaborates closely with independent artisan brands that elevate the home experience, such as luxury swimwear designer k. blu for a series of cushions and tableware products.

Designed to be welcoming, Commune’s atmosphere fosters collaboration, conversation and the sharing of ideas.

An example of a visually curated dining room setting at a Commune store.

The company’s flagship store in Millenia Walk boasts a style curating corner where a mixologist is on site to blend sensory elements to suit customers’ desired home living style.
The Commune Experience Centre features suppliers and partners in the home furnishings industry to allow customers to create their own mood boards and inspiration for their dream homes.

An example of a cosy living room setting at a Commune store.

The Commune Experience Centre was designed to provide consumers with an in-depth understanding of the products they purchase, with a detailed educational wall illustrating the various thought, design and production processes.

A relationship with a Commune franchisee goes beyond the typical business partnership. The directors stress: “We think about Commune as a family. So we look for partners that share the same philosophy, values, expectations and understanding of future retail trends, as well as an in-depth knowledge of the local market as we do. We also look for partners who have experience and passion in the furniture or retail industry and are able to support efficient warehousing and retail activities.”