Plan on getting creative with your home renovations? Always wanted to flex your own design muscles? Creative Lab allows you to do just that. Ong Chin Huat gets the low down on this brand new retail concept in home improvements.
Think tiles are just for use in the bathroom or kitchen? Well, think again because, with Niro Ceramic Group tiles, you can put aside all your preconceptions about this versatile material.
Modern, decorative, functional and flexible, tiles can be used in your living or entrance hall, on your floor or the wall. With the wide variety of different textures and patterns available today, there are no limits as to where in your home or office, you can use Niro tiles.
With the introduction of Creative Lab, a newly formed retail outlet by Niro Ceramic Group in over 36 retail outlets in Malaysia alone as well as in other Asian cities like Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, Ho Chi Minh and Guangdong province in China, home lovers and interior buffs can find a Creative Lab outlet nearby their neighbourhood to visit and select as well as see in amazing 3-D visuals how their homes and interiors would look like in uncannily realistic renderings.
According to Keith Loh (above), the Chief Retail Officer of Creative Lab, this innovative retail concept is a first in Malaysia. Customers simply need to bring along their home layout. With the super-sophisticated computer graphic software, they can see how the final result of their renovation would look complete with lighting at different times of the day and night which show the consumer the different mood of their space.
With a click of the mouse, the customer can also see how different tiles would look like in their home, a process which would take far longer if an interior designer were to do it. “In a traditional tile store, it would cost RM5,000 for a simple interior design, and it would take them several days to revise it if you require any changes. With the software we invested in, it would take only seconds to make the necessary changes,” Loh says.
“Our designers will recreate the entire setting of your home with all your furniture, lighting and home accessories and bring to life in a 3D design how it would look with our tiles in place,” Loh says. “But that’s not all…Creative Lab is also able to produce 3D renderings which enable a 360-degree view of the area being renovated. These 3D images are free of charge and available at all 36 Creative Lab outlets in Malaysia.”
With this new service, Loh has noticed a new trend of purchasing tiles among his customers. He explains: “Since Creative Lab began two years ago, we have seen younger end-consumers coming to our retail outlets by themselves without their contractors and interior designers. This business model of us has disrupted the traditional tile business as we are now dealing directly to the end-consumer which in effect saves them money as they don’t need to pay for any additional services like consultation and design.”
With Creative Lab outlets located at major residential areas in the Klang Valley as well as in other states like Penang, Johor and Sabah, don’t worry if you still can’t find a Creative Lab near you. Loh says that they are happy to come to you in such an event.
“If a Creative Lab outlet isn’t accessible, then we can come to you in the comforts of your own home via our online platform,” he says. “Our designers can also visit you for a site consultation in order to measure and survey the areas you wish to renovate. This would result in a more accurate and precise recommendation and quotation.”
So what are the currents trends in tiles for home interiors?
According to Loh, wooden tiles (ceramic tiles which look like wood) and thematic tiles such as Niro Granite’s Muse have seen a rise in popularity amongst their customers.
Modern tile designs like herringbone and hexagonal or polygonal shaped cut-tiles have also broadened the range of different tiles available to the customer and have proved to be popular while various different finishes such as polished marble to matte, structured surfaces have been used as wall features instead of the traditional floor tiling.
According to Loh, all this has become possible because with the advancement of technology today, modern prints and patterns can be digitally printed on tiles.
Loh reveals that currently, Creative Lab outlets account for approximately five to 10 per cent of its parent company Niro Ceramic Group’s total turnover. Niro Ceramic Group has been in business for over 40 years and has a Swiss heritage which it can be proud of.
In addition to the porcelain tiles under their own brand name of Niro Granite, the group also manufactures and imports other brands of porcelain and ceramic tiles such as Zirconio, Portino and Muzze Da. They also sell sanitary ware from the Orin brand.
And with the lockdown implemented, did Creative Lab see any changes in the way people live in relation to home improvements?
“Actually the lockdown worked in our favour as people were stuck in their homes 24/7 and noticed stained or cracked tiles and how outdated they were. They probably spent time researching home renovation ideas and were inspired by home makeover shows as well…as soon as out outlets were allowed to open, our customers expressed pent-up demand for tiles, especially for their bathrooms.
With the work for home culture still adopted by many companies, many people are thinking about ways to make their homes more comfortable for a work environment. This new-normal has changed the buying behaviour of many consumers, especially in the home renovation aspect.”
For further information about Creative Lab retail outlets, please visit www.creativelab.com.
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