Cafe owner turns junk into treasure
A step into AEIOU cafe is a step into a world of strange decorations and furniture.
What makes the decor so different? Almost everything is made from discarded objects - or what many may call junk.
The spacious cafe, located just a short walk from Lavender MRT station, opened in January last year and is the result of owner Mr Dennis Lau's passion for upcycling and green living.
"I'm a karung guni man," joked Mr Lau, 41. "I collect so-called 'junk'."
A closer look at the tables reveals that they're made from the same type of metal gates you find in HDB flats.
The drinking glasses are from vodka bottles. The lamps? Old metal kettles.
The cafe serves typical cafe fare, such as coffee and main courses, with their specialty being an odd yet harmonious fusion - Avocado coffee.
To Mr Lau - who used to work in the fashion industry - the junk has its own charm.
"When the old stuff ages, there are a lot of patterns which we otherwise can't reproduce," he said, adding that he particularly likes the feel of old wood and rustic metals.
"It is art," he states.
Mr Lau's upcycling journey first began during his travels. On a trip to Cambodia in 2012, he saw wallets made out of cut-up magazine strips, and was inspired to turn unwanted things into usable goods.
DISPLAY: Lamps made of old kettles, one of Mr Dennis Lau's upcycling project, on display at AEIOU cafe. TNP PHOTOS: MAX PASAKRN
While on his upcycling projects, he goes out to search for wood and metal parts at places like the Sungei Kadut scrapyard, thinking of how to piece them together.
"It's like playing hide-and-seek," he said.
"You don't know the end product until you go and search for materials."
Some of the tables in AEIOU are made from combining multiple pieces of metals: gates, ship parts and oil drums.
DREAM: (Above) A glass made when a Vodka bottle is cut in half.
Food aside, some of the items in the cafe are also for sale. The vodka bottle glasses cost $19 each, while the table lamps can set you back between $300 and $800. The more intricate upcycled standing lamps can cost upwards of $1,500.
While some customers may be concerned about eating near a rusty metal gate, Mr Lau reassures them that it is perfectly safe as they have been treated with chemicals.
For enthusiasts looking to get into the hobby, Mr Lau's advice is simple: look before you throw.
"Before you throw anything, think about how you can reuse it," he said.
And AEIOU, with its unique decor, is a testament to this mindset.
"We hope to inspire people to turn ordinary things into something extraordinary," said Mr Lau.