FOR THE LOVE OF MAKING
With a love for making and Mother Earth, Shiying started senkoubou (錢工房), a made-to-order leather atelier that takes inspiration from everyday things.
After spending a year under the tutelage of Yamochi Masumi, a leathercraft master based in Kyoto, she returned back to Singapore to begin her own journey. Her brand is a reflection of what nature offers: contentment, connection and curiosity.
May 02, 2020
With a hope to spark interest for the day-to-day things, it is a love for making that senkoubou (錢工房) was born. Chin Shiying, founder of made-to-order leather atelier, takes inspiration from Mother Earth and adds a personal touch to everyday things.
‘sen’ is olden Kanji for money; and senkoubou seeks to re-evaluate the purpose of money and how it contributes to the universe when exchanged. She hopes the name is testament to the idea that every cent is counted for both in the labor and in its appreciation.
After spending a year under the tutelage of Yamochi Masumi, a leathercraft master based in Kyoto, she returned back to Singapore to begin her own journey. Now, senkoubou is a multi-medium design and make studio that handmakes vegetable-tanned leather crafts upon request. Other natural materials such as linen, hemp and stones are also used to complement the leather. Each material is carefully chosen in line with the brand’s philosophy and plays an important part to ensure the entire product works.
Shiying, 31, is on a journey to share and gather those alike. Beyond conscious purchase, her brand is a reflection of what nature offers: contentment, connection and curiosity.
Shiying, founder of made-to-order leather atelier, senkoubou.
Shiying uses primarily leather to make everyday things, such as wallets and bags.
Intrigued by a gathering at her friend’s café in Kyoto, where strangers across different walks of life are gathered together to talk freely about a topic, Shiying was personally excited to kickstart a similar gathering in homeland. A monthly session, ‘storytelling session’ is an initiative started to encourage open conversations. Set in her studio and open to eight individuals maximally, each session revolves around one theme that will be mentioned beforehand.
‘We become more guarded and hide behind Instagram stories, not speaking in real-life as often,’ she commented, noting how human connection in a digital age has made city dwellers more guarded in general. She recounts fondly of the monthly gathering in a café in Kyoto, where communicating real-time is prioritized over digital forms.
Shiying at her studio space, which she moved into in 2018.
Her small space of no more than 200 square feet houses real-time, real-life interaction that is highly intentional. Likewise, she believes that workshops can be more purposeful. During workshops, she makes it a point to talk about the origin, manufacturing process and quality of the leather she uses — namely vegetable-tanned leather. Slightly skeptical of artists who cares more for profits than sharing knowledge during workshop sessions, she remains prudent about her class size, keeping it no more than four in her studio.
She hopes that her initiative can spark more real-time conversations. She will gladly welcome you into her studio when she’s in for a time of sharing about her craft and philosophy.
‘I cannot imagine doing things that doesn’t speak to people. I think I cannot don’t do it [craft].’
The studio space of senkoubou.
Using vegetable-tanned leather for her products.
In Connection and Curiosity
‘I cannot imagine doing things that doesn’t speak to people,’ she said, fumbling for a while before she uttered: ‘I think I cannot don’t do it [craft].’
In her one-year learning leather-making, her sensei has also taught her how to fish, prepare meals, carve wood, and simply be among nature. That one year — which she describes as the ‘best year of her life’ — cemented a love to connect and be curious about what Mother Earth offers.
Which is also why her brand seeks to design everyday products that anyone can use in their lives. She fondly recounts many individuals who receive the handmade products and whose eyes lit up. To her, that was testament to the effort and philosophy senkoubou is about, and enough reason to embrace hope still.
That one year — which she describes as the ‘best year of her life’ — cemented a love to connect and be curious about what Mother Earth offers.
Although city life has robbed many Singaporeans of the time to slow down and appreciate, she remains hopeful that the culture of craft will reach our shores. Her workshops, which she keeps to no more than four people in-studio, also serves as a platform to communicate her passion for the environment. Participants can look forward to applying the techniques used in their everyday lives as well.
Shiying’s love for making is tightly associated to her love for nature. Through senkoubou, she has expressed the beauty for both Mother Earth and craft.