"The Myanmar Times" chronicles the Nicco workshop

We are so pleased to have appeared in a recent feature story from the Myanmar Times! In discussing the traditional Myanmar style for highly glossy style of furniture that sometimes seems to shine, the country’s leading English newspaper chronicled our early attempts to teach our carpenters to apply a natural polish instead. The full story can be read here:

“Using wood in design is nothing new. Keeping it natural – without a stain or a single stroke of paint – isn’t new, either. However, a growing number of designers and woodworkers are putting the natural aesthetics of bare wood centre-stage, to great effect.

In the home-design world’s very recent past, paint was everything. Find a vintage wooden chair at a flea market? Strip it, then paint it. Now, straight from the design shows in Milan and New York, designers have opted to keep their wood pieces au naturel or with minimal processing to maintain a sense of purity, substance and authenticity.

Of course, designers sometimes have to use a clear stain for comfort, safety or manufacturing reasons, but for the most part, many modern woodworkers are keeping it simple.

In Myanmar, where dark stains and glossy finishes are the norm, designers who favour the natural look often don’t see eye to eye with local craftsmen.

“I had to work with my carpenters for a long time to achieve the kind of natural matte design that we have now,” said Jingyi Zhan, director and designer at Myanmar-based company Nicco. “I like natural wood because it doesn’t feel so heavy or artificial in your home. For new condos, the natural look fits with the modern design and feels more comfortable.”

Bare-wood designs are perfect for creating a relaxed energy in a space because of their neutrality. They’re not loud or quiet. Rather, they fit into any space without being a blatant distraction.


“The natural colors of walnut, cherry, maple, sassafras, hickory and oak are so beautiful, I can’t find any reason to cover them up,” said US furniture designer Freddy Hill. “What’s most important to me is trying to distill my designs down to their barest element. Nothing is added simply for the sake of decoration.”

There are dozens of reasons designers choose wood. Sure, it’s a readily available material that’s easy to manipulate. But some of the latest designs are proof of the particular pride woodworkers take in using raw wood in natural ways. In other words, keeping the piece’s origin story a major part of its final design.”


I had to work with my carpenters for a long time to achieve the kind of natural matte design that we have now. I like natural wood because it doesn’t feel so heavy or artificial in your home. For new condos, the natural look fits with the modern design and feels more comfortable.
— Jingyi Zhan

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Joah McGee