In part five of our seven-part series on general stores in Singapore, we visit the charming Emporium of the Modern Man (EOMM), and speak to founder Winnie Li, 28, to find out what sells best at her store, and how she sources for new products.
Read about her new pop-up store here.
EOMM attracts a mixed bunch of regulars at its two-year-old store at 60 Somme Road (#01-03): creatives who come to be inspired by the design-led curation; out-of-towners who drop by whenever they are here; and high-flying bankers and investors who come mainly for the pencils - the Palomino Blackwings, to be exact.
The iconic pencils were among the first few items that Li stocked when EOMM started as an online store in 2013. Artisanal stationery - like Swiss-designed Gedess lead pointers (sharpeners for clutch pencils that architects and designers use) and Italian-made Zenith plier staplers (they come with lifetime guarantees and are built to last generations) - sourced locally and worldwide, is a hit with her customers.
“We get many geeky customers who are serious collectors of stationery,” says Li. “They can sometimes buy up to 20 boxes of Blackwings at a go. We have never asked them why, but as we get to know them better over time, they tell us that they just really like the pencils.”
As a former landscape architecture student, Li and two like-minded friends, US-based art collector and writer Damien Ding and artist Wong Lip Chin, understand what designers and artists want. “When we curate, we look for innovative design, quality, value of the goods, and the vision of the brand. We are not trying to bring in what is popular, but rather what we feel are the right things to look at,” says Ding.
The trio share a deep passion for design and art, and the vision of spreading it - be it stationery, apparel or personal-care products - to the local community through EOMM. To introduce new products, Li is constantly on the lookout for innovative emerging designers. “I love attending design conventions, and I am also an avid reader of industrial design magazines.”
Art Direction: Hannah Goh
Photography: Darren Chang & Vernon Wong
This story was first published in the July 2017 issue of Her World magazine.