10DK on why "fit-in" Furniture is the Future

Preechaya Chavalittumrong explains why built-in furniture isn't the only way to make a house a home

The defining characteristic that makes built-ins so appealing is that the furniture is specially crafted for your space, and permanently attached, allowing it to naturally blend as a part of the house while maximising efficiency. Built-ins are the go-to for homeowners for a reason. But Preechaya Chavalittumrong, founder and general manager of 10DK, begs to differ. Now in their sixth year in business, 10DK specialises in “fit-in” furniture—interior pieces which are custom-made to fit each home, while still being movable.

“One day, questions popped into my head: why do we have to have a craftsman come in and look at your place for months for it to look good? Is there an alternative that would make our space look good without having to depend on someone for such a long time?” Preechaya asks. “That’s when the idea of ‘fit-in’ came to me. We go in and take precise measurements, then have the furniture brought in from outside sources—custom-made for the space. The furniture belongs to that space, but it’s not at all built into it.” Other benefits include less damage to the home, and fewer hassles.

Aside from those advantages, there’s one more interesting benefit to gain: “No craftsperson in the world is an expert at making every type of furniture.” Preechaya explains, “This is why the concept of ‘fit-in’ means you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket. This craftsperson might be the best for woodwork, this one might be great at fabrics, this one for mirrors, and so on. As we put in orders with the makers we trust, we’re diversifying the risk to many sub-contractors.”

The concept also extends to 10DK’s philosophy in conducting business. “The whole thought process behind it all is to find things that fit well into our lives, our space, our aesthetic.” She elaborates, “We’re not going to take advantage of the transaction, and include things you don’t really need, recommend something which would only be good for a photography session, or go through when there’s simply not enough done for the space. Everyone is different, and their relationship with their place is different, and that’s our job—to understand that unique relationship and find the things that are just right for them.”

As she keeps growing her business, Preechaya has also made it her mission to be as sustainable as possible. “In Thailand, when we think of the word ‘sustainability’, we usually think of it in either social or environmental terms.” She elaborates, “There’s also the financial aspect to it, and we’re putting our focus onto all three. The wood we use has to be grown, not cut down from a forest. Even the lacquer we use needs to be sustainable.” In many cases, 10DK even supplies materials to the furniture suppliers themselves to make sure the right materials are used, without compromising the quality. “In the field of construction, it’s practically impossible to reduce waste to zero,” Preechaya notes, “But that doesn’t mean we don’t try the best we can.”

For the social aspect, Preechaya notes how she focuses on matters such as workers’ rights. Not just the people working directly with her, but those that are working with the suppliers, too. “Human rights, labour rights—all of those are at the top priority.” She explains, “We have to make sure anyone working with us is not employing anyone underaged, or making anyone work under unfair conditions. That applies to the whole supply chain. The furniture business involves a lot of labour, and we have to do what we can to not let workers be exploited.”

“This is also why we try to minimise dealing with suppliers overseas. We shifted to working with local communities instead. We can go and directly see their place of business, as well as giving jobs and money back to them.”

Finally, when asked about what’s in store for 10DK, the words sum up to a simple, straightforward answer: to keep going. “We’re still looking for new ways to be more sustainable, of course,” she says, “And for the business side, we have had jobs where we expand to designing in the metaverse, so that’s exciting. But in Thailand, we aim to be the place to go when you’re looking to design your place without building into it. We want to be the ‘fit-in’ place at the top of the customers’ mind. More than that, we want to be the standard of conducting business in the furniture industry. We want customers to not have to worry about getting the short end of the deal. We want them to feel at ease as they put their trust in their designers. That is simply what they deserve.”