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Ong Kok Thai Yung Ong

40

“You should hear some of the
exchanges Yung and I have,” chuckles
Ong Kok Thai, or KT as he’s better
known. The affable 61-year-old
director of Vanguard Interiors (which
deals in office furniture, and is the
parent company of Proof Living)
reveals that he and his 33-year-old
son don’t always agree when it comes
to work, but admits that “he keeps
me in check because no one in my
company argues with me.”
While Yung wasn’t pressured
to join the family business, it was
inevitable as Dad’s passion played
a big role in his formative years. “I
remember following him to trade fairs
when I was only nine, and also sitting
in on high-level meetings, silently
observing in one corner,” Yung
recalls. And family holidays included
visits to hotels to look at their
interiors. “As a kid, I didn’t think that
was out of the norm. And now, I do
similar things on my holidays.” But
this training didn’t exactly prepare
him for the day-to-day running of
Proof Living when it was established
in 2004. The residential furniture
business turned out to be very
different from selling office furniture.
When it comes to growing the
business, Yung’s as astute as his
dad. Besides the high-end brands
such as Poltrona Frau, Barbara Barry
and Zanotta, Yung has also tapped
into the middle tier of the market with
Boconcept, Crate and Barrel, and
CB2. He now has his sights set on
reinventing the luxury home-interiors
scene. Proof Living will be moving
into a new space within Ion Orchard
(to be ready by year end), and its
new retail concept will “bring our
customers out of their comfort zone,
but inspire them at the same time,”
he says.

Ong Kok Thai and
his son Yung Ong

“I want to
challenge and
educate our
customers;
bring them out
of their comfort
zone, but inspire
them at the
same time.”
– Yung

text Mavis Ang photography winston chuang & wong wei liang art direction kaffy tan & leyna Poh

Family Business: Luxury furniture store Proof Living,
as well as a host of other imported home interior brands