Designer Nathan Yong earned recognition as a trailblazer in the Singapore design scene when he founded design company Air Division in 1999 with three friends. Air Division was the first Singaporean company to sell its designs to high-end furniture retailers. However, Yong's propensity for innovation began years before, in his childhood. Growing up in a wooden hut by the seaside with limited materials available required Yong to invent his own toys using treasures he collected from the beach. He continues to utilize that same habit – to create with indigenous resources – when designing furniture, relying on readily available materials, such as wood and steel.
Yong graduated from the University of New South Wales with a distinction in Masters in Design. After serving as the creative director of Air Division from 1999–2009, he launched a consultancy called Nathan Yong Design and Folks, a furniture label that honors Asian furniture craft. In terms of scale, Yong's pieces are influenced by the congestion of city living and value function and simplicity. “My work is a reflection of my yearning for nature in a concrete jungle like Singapore. Spaces are smaller and people are busier,” says Yong.
Today, in addition to running his own furniture label and consultancy, Yong also serves as design director for Grafunkt, a promising Singapore-based company that focuses on Asian designers and products. He has received the Singapore President's Design Award for Designer of the Year in 2008 and the Red Dot Concept Design Award in both 2006 and 2007. Yong's work has appeared in international design magazines including Case da Abitare, Wallpaper*, Monocle and Dwell.