The Hemsley Story
It was the late 1960s, and the landscape of Singapore was changing rapidly as the apartment complexes and factories of the modern era sprang up. Even as the country's leaders were seeing the early fruits of their vision, the Tan Brothers were beginning to form their own pioneering vision for one corner of everyday life — the bathroom. It was a vision that saw fruition in a few short years, with the founding of Hemsley.
The brothers started out as apprentices in the bathroom fitting industry. As could be expected in any newly developing country, bathroom fittings then were designed to be purely functional — simple and robust, but with little concession to aesthetics, or visual or tactile appeal. After all, the bathroom was a purely functional space. The brothers realised, however, that there was already a market for more well-designed bathrooms and bathroom fittings; that the growing middle-class population would seek more luxurious living; and that, in terms of decor, the bathroom was often the most neglected space in the home. They would start their own business to serve this emerging market.
(1972) Hemsley's Showroom at Balestier Road.
They started out by introducing Dipcote, a revolutionary resurfacing process that restored old, worn bathtubs to brand new condition. Obviating the need for costly replacement, which would have entailed expensive, time-consuming r
e-plumbing and re-tiling, Dipcote soon proved popular among hoteliers and the owners of private housing. It also met the Tan brothers benchmark for an attractive, functional bathroom solution.
Buoyed by the success of Dipcote, the brothers formed Hemsley in 1972, continuing to develop new materials for the resurfacing process and installing bathroom fittings. In 1976, Hemsley began to import sanitary ware from major brands in the UK and Europe. The burgeoning product line meant that Hemsley soon needed a showroom to display its offerings, the first of which was opened at Balestier Road in 1979.
(1998) Hemsley's Showroom at 19 Clemenceau Ave.
Today, more than 42 years after the brothers began the business, Hemsley continues to lead the way in innovation, technology, quality and service. The showroom has moved twice since the original (first to Clemenceau Ave and then to its present location at Jalan Pemimpin) but the drive to provide elegant, functional solutions remains as strong as ever. In that regard at least, you could say that Hemsley, the bathroom specialist, hasn't changed at all.
(2017) Bathroom feature in Hemsley's recent showroom.
The Eldest Brother, who had always been passionate about art, knew that the they would have to offer products with visual appeal — sinks, taps and other fittings that were elegant and beautiful. The Youngest Brother, always more of a tinkerer, felt that they should raise the bar on technology, build quality and durability.
They decided on a compromise, by not compromising on their products. Each would be a marriage of form and function, designed to appeal to the senses and to function flawlessly for years. They would be selected to be part of an overall decor, to fit in with seamlessly with all other components, and be part of one aesthetic and functional whole.
(1972) Dipcote, surface refinishing service was established.
The 80s and 90s were periods of tremendous growth, and the demand for a greater variety of high-quality products meant more brand names in the Hemsley fold, all top European manufacturers. The quest for innovative new ideas and the latest technologies continued unabated, as Hemsley introduced wall-hung and concealed systems to Singapore. And since sinks and taps were also to be found in kitchens, Hemsley stepped out of the bathroom and introduced a range for them as well — kitchen fittings and accessories that met the same stringent criteria for elegance and function as Hemsley's bathroom products.