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Sharing the art of making furniture without nails

Tan Ai Leng |
Sunday, 13 August 2017 09:14:26 AM

Carpentry or the art of making wood furniture may be a dying trade, but one lady, Hani Ali, is creating new interest in handmade wood furniture. And it’s not just any wood furniture — she uses the wood joinery technique, which does not require the use of nails.

Hani is the founder of Lain Design, or Lain for short — a home-grown wood-furniture making and design workshop that specialises in bespoke wood furniture.

She believes people are going back to basics in terms of their lifestyle as more people are now gaining a new appreciation for nature and things made from natural elements such as wood.

“Each piece of natural wood furniture has its own unique texture and colour depending on the type of wood, and this has attracted people’s attention,” she tells “Plus, wood has natural grain on them and the feel of being solid and real.”

Lain, which means unique or different in Malay, has carved a niche in the industry by making furniture using the wood joinery technique where no nails are used to join pieces of wood together.

“Wood joinery is a basic technique of furniture making. Although it is not often used today, more people are discovering the beauty of wood joinery furniture. It has become a trendy thing now,” says Hani, who graduated from University of South Australia with a degree in industrial design majoring in furniture design.

One of the challenges she currently faces in her business is to source for high-quality wood.

“Most of our local suppliers export high-quality wood overseas, leaving only limited choices for local furniture makers — unlike in Australia, where the supplier will bring you to the timber yard and choose the wood planks that you need,” she says.

Besides using the raw materials she acquires from wood suppliers, Hani is also constantly on the lookout for reusable natural wood materials. For instance, she has turned some fallen tree branches, which she spotted during an evening walk in a park, into the legs of a wooden bench.

“The branches were straight and have a beautiful texture. It will be quite a waste if we had just thrown them away. So I used them as the legs of a wooden bench, using the butterfly joint technique to patch up some of the cracks on the branches and joined the pieces to the bench,” she explains.

Established in 2010, Lain also offers furniture-making workshops or classes to members of the public who are interested to learn how to make their own furniture or wooden decorative pieces using the wood joinery technique. Currently, Lain holds four full-day workshops, from 9am to 6pm, for adults above 18 years old.

“The number of people who participated in our workshops are increasing, reflecting the rising interest among the public. Some of them have wonderful ideas like making their very own wooden headphones and other pieces,” she says.

Moving forward, she is looking at expanding the furniture-making courses to children above five years old. By expanding the workshop to children, Hani hopes to educate and hone their appreciation for the natural beauty of wood while learning to create something on their own by bringing them through the entire process from the idea and design stage to the completed work.

To find out more about Lain, check out the video on The video was aired during’s Facebook Live show held in conjunction with the Malaysia Virtual Property Expo 2017 that ran from July 21 to 31.

This story first appeared in pullout on Aug 11, 2017. Download pullout here for free.