It Takes Two

For Llora founder Ling Fu, design isn’t just a passion, it’s also the language of love at home
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Can a stylish entrepreneur and the wife of an acclaimed Singaporean architect make a one-year-old bag brand cool? The answer is “yes”. But how? By simply knowing what the fundamentals of good design are. “It’s all about proportion, function and detail,” says Ling Fu, who founded Llora, a modern handbag label with a focus on traditional craftsmanship, early last year. “I think women and today’s consumers in general are extremely smart. Whether they buy from an established brand or an independent label, they want to feel assured that they have the best possible at hand,” she points out. 

Fu’s hands-on approach to her start-up is highly commendable. Way ahead of Llora’s launch, the mother of six boys spent multiple weeks immersing herself in the art of bag-making at some of the finest ateliers in Italy, some of which produce for the biggest players in the luxury goods business. “I went from small town to small town. Each had its own speciality. Some specialised in leathers, others in stones,” she recalls. “You’d think you would find everything in fashion capitals like Milan, but I found things of rare beauty in much smaller Italian towns.”

Fu reveals that her earliest foray into design happened when she was a grade seven student. "My mother had gone away on an extended vacation and I took the opportunity to redesign my bedroom," she says. "I changed my desk, and night and vanity tables, and even purchased a beautiful set of Chinese-Dutch rattan dressers which I had been secretly coveting.”

What makes Fu’s crocodile bags so compelling is that they aren’t overly designed. The styles are simple (there are structured top-handle bags, long envelope clutches and mini shoulder bags tagged with girls’ names such as Abbey, Savannah and Taylor); and the colours – emerald, Bordeaux and mandarin – are eye-catching. “I work with the most precious materials and for that reason I personally oversee the creation of every piece. If something goes wrong during production, beautiful things are going to waste. I need to make sure that doesn’t happen,” explains Fu, who reveals that each bag can take up to half a year to complete. 

Married to Soo K Chan, the mastermind behind award-winning architectural firm SCDA, she admits that conversations pertaining to design are hard to avoid at home. “Soo and I are both genuine lovers of design and there’s a natural tendency to talk about it whenever we’re together,” says Fu, who furnished Chan’s ultra-contemporary beachfront resort Soori Bali and added the finishing touches to his up-and-coming luxury residence Soori High Line in New York’s hip West Chelsea district. 

“Design is an emotional experience for me and I feel that beautiful objects should be enjoyed in meaningful ways.”

“There’s no difference between home and work for us. Our life is design and design is our life. We give each other space for our own pursuits but together, we have very positive synergy,” she adds.

“My designs were much more elaborate and baroque back when I ran my own furniture production company, but they have since become more minimalist and refined. I have this constant push and pull between embellishment and austerity.”



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