Here To Stay
Speaking from Casa Gessi Singapore, a two-storey colonial shophouse on Penang Road, Gian Luca Gessi and Henry Tay are bantering as only old acquaintances could. Their decade-long work relationship first began in Europe when Tay was distributing European sanitary fittings in Singapore, and has culminated in today’s exclusive partnership between the luxury Italian fittings brand and Tay’s Singapore-based company, Wan Tai.
It is apparent that both men have carried a deep spirit of affection and respect for each other through the years. “Gian Luca constantly inspires his staff to become passionate about what they do within the company,” Tay says. “I’ve encountered many large suppliers in my 35 years of working with sanitary fittings, but Gessi was the one company that always stood out to me because of Gian Luca’s passion. None of the other CEOs owned the company, so in that way, we were quite similar. That was when we realised that we needed to do something with each other.”
It was only after many years had passed that the two entities decided to jointly open Casa Gessi Singapore, the Italian brand’s South-east Asian flagship store. Having already established a successful base in Europe, Gessi saw the rising potential of the South-east Asian market and swiftly began talks with Wan Tai. Both companies found a level of comfort and affinity in each other, drawing professional parallels in their values, willingness to collaborate and their shared desire to elevate the status quo in the region.
Singapore’s neo-modern sensibilities, coupled with the city’s deluge of designers, architects and contemporary buildings, provided the perfect backdrop for Gessi’s state-of-the-art products, and it became increasingly important to set up a base here. “We are not a company that wants to live and sell far away from our market. It’s important that our customers can come to us for all aspects of the process – from the selection of the product to experiencing good after-sales service. We are a foreign company but we are working with a company in the region to better service our clients here,” Gian Luca says.
And this model seems to be translating well. Gessi has since worked with a variety of iconic residential and commercial projects in Singapore, such as Victoria Park Villas and The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore. Casa Gessi Singapore is also a beacon for the brand, providing a tangible reference point for clients from all around the region.
The showroom itself is an architectural gem, housed in a shell of pure white and embellished with Singaporean heritage accents, lush greenery and languid pools of water. The space showcases the perfect marriage of the two cultures – the interior reflects a progressive Italian aesthetic, while the facade represents Singapore’s traditional and tropical side. “Gessi’s products blend two different types of cultures together – something that is enduring yet forward-thinking. It is a brand that embraces the past but is designed for modern homes,” Tay says.
“Everything can be done if you create the right philosophy and vision between two entities, and when you have the right people close to you. This is what we have with Wan Tai,” Gian Luca says. “We are not just providing products, but offering a concept of life. Our focus is on the bathroom, more specifically, the evolution of the bathroom concept as a place of rejuvenation and wellness.”
And with its new line, Equilibrio, just launched, Casa Gessi Singapore is looking to further sear its already indelible mark on the region’s luxury landscape once more.