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Zenporium : Providing Furniture’s Future By Reclaiming The Past

“You never really need to sacrifice beauty or quality at the expense of sustainability.”

Gentong Teak Vase from Zenporium

Gentong Teak Vase from Zenporium

Can it really be so simple? Can sustainability really come without overlooking the style and beauty we all crave? If you ask Serene Gebara and Omar Kamal – absolutely. Kamal, who works in insurance, and Gebara, a former human resources manager for a furniture company, were first inspired to open their own furniture store while honeymooning in South East Asia. As they roamed the beautiful country looking for adventure and artifacts to return home with, the couple happened upon the exotic woodworkings of local East Pacific artisans. Once employed as fisherman, the native people of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia had to find another way to feed their families after the fishing industry became heavily automated. They succeeded by crafting beautiful furniture from reclaimed fishing boats, discarded rail wood, teak tree roots and other reclaimed sources.

Gebara and Kamal fell in love with what they had discovered. The newlyweds began working with the skilled tradesmen and women to design and supply unique furniture décor to the world’s ever-evolving green lifestyle while providing fair wages and great working environments for the indigenous people they had met. What Gebara and Kamal did was created Zenporium.

Introduced by one of the Toronto-based interior designers on the RRGH team, RRGH owner Beverley Maloney-Fischback knew Zenporium had the perfect blend of eco design, sustainability and consciousness she was looking for in a decor company for the home.

“Zenporium has all the elements we embrace and respect and some of the most beautiful, unique, hand-crafted artisan pieces we’ve seen in a long time,” raved Maloney-Fischback.

Zenporium Teak Sculpture and Planter

Zenporium Teak Sculpture and Planter

Zenporium has become known for their distinctive tables, chairs and desks fashioned from retired fishing boats, all of which would have wound up in garbage heaps or discarded along the beaches of South East Asia. Alternatively, these used vessels have been restored through a virtually chemical-free kiln drying process lasting 4 to 6 weeks which cleans the wood and saves the beautifully aged blues, yellows and reds. These boats are artfully transformed into one-of-a-kind dining tables, shelving units, coffee tables and wall décor that can add a “wow” factor to any home. That “wow” factor comes, not only from the look, but the history of each piece.

“The wood itself is beautiful, it’s rustic, the colors are vibrant but there’s also another level to this which is that depth of history,” Kamal said in a phone interview. “When you look at a piece that was built from this boat wood, it gets you thinking about the people who must have used that boat. The many mornings they set out fishing, making a living for their families. There’s quite a bit of history behind it.”

Cahaya Dugout shelving unit

Cahaya Dugout shelving unit

For as young as Zenporium is, Gebara and Kamal certainly know their history. Along with the company’s boat and rail wood furniture, they also provide a wide range of teak tree furniture – all reclaimed from the teak tree industry. For centuries, the teak tree has been harvested for the multiple uses of mankind. From housing for the early natives of the South Pacific to naval ship construction of the British in the 1800s, teak tree wood has proven to be one of the most durable, enduring woods over time. And that’s not even the best part. It’s been well documented that once the British naval ships were of no more use, parts of the vessels were repurposed into benches and other furniture and placed in parks around England, some of which are still there today.

Much like those savvy British sailors, Zenporium rescues discarded teak tree roots from certain doom and repurposes them into remarkable tables, vases and artwork. The Gentong Teak Vase is an example of raw teak roots constructed into functional artistry. These vases are carefully hand-chiseled into shape and rounded preserving the natural, sheen look without losing any of the root’s characteristics. Along with the teak vases, the RRGH sports the Dulo Wall Décor, a hybrid between the Zenporium’s specialties. The Dulo showcases a collage of salvaged teak wood bordered by a frame made from boat wood. It’s an attractive mash up of Zenporium’s various styles. To compliment the Dulo, the RRGH also exhibits a symbolic zen artifact called the Budi Wheel, Artek Tula Wall Hanging and a Gembol Bowl – all made from teak wood. All of these pieces come together to crate a sophisticated look with a rustic sensibility.

Zenporium has begun what looks to be a long and rewarding future in the home décor industry by furnishing style and beauty while promoting sustainability and preservation. Elements which homeowners, not just in Rocky River can support, but homeowners around the world can stand behind.

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