Gap: Be Bright with CJ Gan, Baconroll Handmade

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 So what inspires you? We zoom in on 4 inspiring individuals, CJ Gan of Baconroll Hand, 8TV Quickie host Adam Zain and couple Lynda and Sukeats of Pink Tattoos and Wheelove Skateshop – individuals who have forged their own path to make their mark in their chosen fields. Hopefully their stories will inspire you to forge your own.

You’ve got to respect someone who sees beauty and potential in unwanted junk by turning it into something beautiful and of use again. As the saying goes, “One man’s waste is another man’s treasure” and the basis of this old adage rings true for Baconroll Handmade, an art and design collective by CJ Gan and his wife, Julia.

What sparked the idea of Baconroll Handmade?
As designers, we are big fans of DIY/handmade products, be it a furniture piece, small accessories piece or just about anything. We always love the uniqueness of each DIY/handmade piece. Each piece is different and the imperfection of each product always makes it perfect. What irks us most is these handmade products are usually expensive, as they are mostly imported.

Whenever we passed by a pile of junk on the road side, or even junkyards, we’re always amazed that there’re a lot of recyclable items still in mint condition. We’d always say to each other, “hey, we could make something out of these!” That’s when the idea sparked. We decided we should do something about it and start to make use of all those junks into something useful and beautiful. The following day, Julia made this amazing prawn yakitori rolled in bacon and that’s the day Baconroll Handmade was born.

The suitcase chair is such a creative idea! What is the creative process like? Do you pick an item that just sparks an idea/inspiration or is there careful planning involved?
We would say a little bit of both – because planning on how to build a product after the idea sparked is a very important factor. Some ideas might not be executable and some might just work wonderfully.

For this Vintage Luggage Chair, it was actually an impromptu approach. One day after work, we found a mint condition 1960s hard-shell luggage. Automatically, we brought it home with us (yes, we’re part time hoarders as well). Upon organizing Baconroll’s workshop, we realized that we have 4 beautiful chair legs. Why not make a chair then? We did a little research, sketched out some possible design, figured out the anatomy of it and we agreed that this can be a really interesting cross collaboration in form and function. A suitcase chair. After a few trials and errors, it’s finally done in a week. It was quite a tiresome process.

Any other ideas/products in the works?
Currently we have some products ideas cooking in mind which are still work in progress. All involving wooden materials (we use mostly wood for our products as it is more environmental friendly and durable). We have a couple of wooden table lamps in store, as well as some benches and tables.

In a nutshell, upcycling is akin to the line “one man’s waste is another man’s treasure”. Why is this concept so hard to grasp in general?
Yes, those useful junks are definitely our treasures. Generally, people love new stuffs. It brings status to them. For some people it is hard to understand that what is useless to one person might be valuable to another. To them junk is junk. Why bother cleaning it up, prying it open, use your brain and muscle for example, to make a table where you can pay a certain amount of money to get a new shiny one?

Do you think you’re doing your part to help the environment with Baconroll Handmade?
In the long-term plan, yes, we eventually hope that we’d help the environment by using all these ‘useful’ junks instead of using a newly produced wood to make our products that have the same quality as newly produced products. Hopefully people will be more aware of this environmental issue, that our forest are thinning and it has affected our life in more ways that we could imagine.

Did you any professional training in carpentry prior to the creating Baconroll Handmade?
Well, we read a lot of books written by professionals! But no, we didn’t have any professional training prior to this. We’re still learning new skills every single day. Be it from the internet or books, but the most efficient and effective form of learning is by trials and errors. We basically learning by doing as we produce our products. We normally would create a prototype for our product, and analyze it first (the structure and function) before we make the real product that is for sale.

What are Baconroll Handmade’s plans for the future?
Now, we’re taking one step at a time, sustaining the business which is relatively new. We hope that we can fill in the missing gap in affordable upcycle products category. In the future, hopefully we can find a bigger space for our workshop and store room so we can do our work more peacefully. Or, even better if we can create a some kind of open workshop and collaborate with other artists/carpenters. That would be a dream! We also hope that we can market our products outside of Malaysia and by then we’ve mastered all the carpentry skill we need to make our products more awesome!

What kind of environmental mark do you hope to leave with your products? (eg: Do you think your products can educate/bring awareness etc)
A message that a useful, beautiful products are not necessary has to be new – that it is possible to live with recyclable materials. Hopefully they can be inspired by our products – that everyone will eventually turn to recycling and upcycling instead of keep on buying new things.

www.baconrollhandmade.com or
www.facebook.com/BaconrollHandmade

For more info on Gap’s Be Bright campaign, log on to www.facebook.com/gapmalaysia