An Interview with Peter Teo and Richard Chamberlain of Property Of…
For over two years now, The Ghostly Store has been offering a small selection of bags and wallets from the Singapore-based company Property Of… The company produces well-crafted, functional bags that will last a lifetime—a quality we admire in our current built-for-obsolescence society.
Having gotten their start founding and operating the PS.Cafés in Singapore, owners Peter Teo and Richard Chamberlain bring a unique service-driven perspective to their business. To learn more about the business and their approach to product development, we asked them to take a moment to answer a few questions.
[GI] Let’s start with the most important question. As café owners yourselves, who are some of the best bean roasters in the business?
[PO] As café owners, we find it important to remember that when it comes to coffee, tastes will vary. We serve customers from so many different parts of the world, it’s a constant reminder that the best coffee is one that is served with humility and from the heart, whether it is from the bean roaster or a barista.
[GI] With businesses in HK and Amsterdam, along with the many trade shows at which you exhibit, you must travel often. What’s your take on the state of travel today and how do you design bags to meet the needs of the modern traveller?
[PO] We do travel a fair bit and I guess we might qualify as ‘modern travellers’… Richard always strives to carry less along the way, whereas I like my “stuff” with me. We have different approaches… the common ground being building quality and durability into the Property of… bags we use for our travels.
[GI] What’s your favorite place to be in the world and why?
[PO] Our favourite thing is to be traveling in constant search of the perfect spot! The energy of New York is pretty close to being Richard’s thing and mine might be a house in a forest, on a river or facing a lake… still to be discovered of course!
[GI] The Tommy bags feel both fresh and timeless, were there any specific influences behind the collection?
[PO] We’re always striving to design a product that is both understated but has character. Perhaps when that balance is right it can come across as both “fresh and timeless.” We hope so.
[GI] What’s your approach to constructing something that will withstand years of use and abuse?
[PO] Learn from our own experiences. Learn from our mistakes. Learn from our customers.
[GI] What’s it like running your own company and dealing with sourcing goods, manufacturing delays, the constant need for seasonal releases?
[PO] In a word… Challenging! It may stem from being based in season-less Singapore but we don’t look at each collection as distinctly seasonal It’s a never ending process of building around the best resources we discover. Property Of… is very much about evolution from collection to collection.
[GI] Do you have any essential books to recommend to the budding designer and entrepreneur?
[PO] On the creative side, “Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers” by Leonard Koren. A quick read about finding the beauty in imperfection. A way of seeing and living that sticks with you. For the entrepreneur, “Let My People Go Surfing” by Yvon Chouinard. A very useful reminder that there really is no one perfect path to build a business.
[GI] What advice do you have for people wishing to take their craft to the next level and reach a wider audience?
[PO] Gosh… it is a wisdom we constantly seek ourselves. At a push we’d say if you have a clearly focused product that tells a unique story that is huge.
[GI] If you weren’t making bags and running several cafés, what would you be doing?
[PO] We really enjoy what we do as it allows us to come into contact with many interesting people and opportunities. However, when I’m day dreamimg I [Peter] see myself owning a chili farm, growing and then producing my own brand of chili sauce. I haven’t come up with a name for the sauce yet!