On a mission to spruce your home with modern sleek pieces that don't hurt the Earth? Dapo might be your solution with their unique range of sustainable homeware goods that are locally crafted from ethically sourced timber. Each piece is also carefully designed citing Malay culture as its muse, making Dapo one of a kind in the homeware department.
Why did you choose the name 'Dapo' and how does it relate to your brand story?
Before launching our brand officially, Dapo began by serving kitchens and patrons of rising cafes and restaurants in and around KL with wooden products. As a seasoned woodworking factory, our specialty for the past 2 decades has been interior fit-outs. Around 10 years ago, when we began working on café and restaurants renovations, we started getting a lot of queries to make custom tableware that could be used to serve patrons - trays, serving boards, menu boards, coasters.
Seeing that there was little supply for this growing demand for locally-made tableware, we decided to take the challenge and develop a homegrown brand that could be enjoyed by both F&B owners and homemakers.
Nowadays, Dapo focuses on a lot more variety than just kitchen-related items, which is why we coin ourselves as a home & living brand.
How does Dapo balance function and beauty in their products?
What we offer is flexibility – while we may provide ideas of how our products can be used, we don’t limit the possibilities and encourage our customers to use our product however way it fits best with their lifestyle.
For example, our MULA board while commonly used as a serving platter for dining is durable enough to be used in the kitchen as a chopping board and works great aesthetically as a décor piece for the living room.
We’re also very particular about quality and workmanship. Every piece is reviewed carefully by our team to look out for non-conforming features to ensure that it’s 100% ready once it’s distributed.
Can you share with us the reason(s) why all your homeware goods are made from wood only?
Wood is our specialty and we want to focus on what we do best. Our company has been specializing in wood for close to 30 years and because of this experience, we know our wood well, how it behaves, what techniques are required to create a quality end product, and how our end users can maintain it to sustain its life span.
As a brand advocating for sustainability, what are some of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
The primary challenge we have is waste. Because we are dealing with precious raw material and are continuously exploring new designs that require a lot of R&D, it’s super important for us to be mindful about how we design and craft our products so that we aren’t creating unnecessary waste.
So when designing, we must consider how a piece of raw material can be maximised to reduce excess waste, what would we do with the waste created, and what techniques can allow us to be more efficient & reduce mistakes when crafting the product.
We love how all of your collections have interesting names such as 'Samosa' and 'Kochi'. What is Dapo's creative process behind creating a collection?
Thank you! Our collections are commonly named based on the purpose of the collection. PEGA derives from ‘pegang’ – for our boards that have handles, BEKA derives from ‘bekas’ for our storage boxes, IDAN derives from ‘hidang’, for our trays often used for serving.
It’s become a fun wordplay exercise for our team and even our customers; because they know the formula, they’ll throw ideas out and crack jokes about it, which is great because we’re able to have fun and create play on words with our native language.
Our end goal is to become a global brand and to represent Malaysia’s sustainable wood products on an international scale.
How are Dapo products sourced and made?
For material sourcing, we organise our raw materials into 3 categories: certified wood, reclaimed wood, and plantation wood. This is the first phase of our circular approach to sustainable manufacturing. After material, we also look into design, coating, packaging, maintenance, and education.
Dapo products are exclusively designed and made at our factory, The Green Factory (located in Ampang, Selangor). This is our industrial playground where in addition to Dapo’s collection, we also make a wide range of other products that carry the same value in green design & sustainable production.
What are 3 essential Dapo products that you think everyone should have in their home?
KOCHI phoneholder – our best selling product and most successful zero-waste story
ALAS coaster – a testament to our efforts to upcycle old wood
TUKA TAMA chopping board – Because every home deserves a good looking, heavy-duty companion in the kitchen.
What do you want your customers to feel when they use your products?
That they are investing in pieces that are both beautiful and can last for generations, all while telling the story of our unique culture and embodying mindfulness of ethical and responsible sourcing from our natural ecosystem.
What are some common mistakes people make with their wooden products and how can they rectify them to maintain the items for longer?
The first thing that will help you in your journey to using wood products is understanding the nature of wood. Just like humans, different pieces of wood has its own characteristics, reaction to the environment, and need for TLC.
For example, for products like serving or chopping boards, we would advise you to wash it with your usual dishwashing soap & water, but don’t submerge the item in water as the wood would soak in the fluid and become susceptible to cracks and warping over time.
Another tip is not to expose your board to direct sunlight to minimise dryness and discolouration of the wood.
One way to make your dry board look fresh again is to wipe it generously with a food-friendly oil such as coconut oil, olive oil, or almond oil. You’ll see the wood tones shine through so beautifully again and it’s definitely a satisfying process.
Lastly, what are Dapo's intentions and goals as a brand?
Our end goal is to become a global brand and to represent Malaysia’s sustainable wood products on an international scale. It’s a big dream we know, but we’re aiming for the stars!