Posts tagged Singapore
A Bright and Light City Home

Inspired by Japanese spatial and aesthetic concepts, a refined material palette gives the Light Apartment a minimalist and luxurious character


In their design of the Light apartment in the heart of cosmopolitan Singapore, local interior design firm Right Angle Studio adhered to the Japanese spatial concept of ma, which involves the principles of negative space and leaving room for intervals of quiet contemplation and reflection. Their response to the concept is a monochrome colour palette and a subtly luxurious melange of textures and materials. The space is planned in a rectilinear configuration that allows for open views to the living and dining areas, though a fluted glass screen at the entrance cordons off the dining area and provides some privacy, and access to the bedrooms and washrooms is discreetly hidden. Touches of greenery contrast with the muted scheme and add to the tranquility, echoing the Japanese aesthetic inspirations and rounding out the soothing city abode.

Text / Babette Radclyffe-Thomas
Images / Jonathan Danker (Ansel Media)

A Japanese Apartment in Singapore

Inspired by the concept of shizukokoro (‘calm mind’), Goy Architects designed this ryokan-style apartment where natural materials and handcrafted touches abound


In West Singapore, local design firm Goy Architects has transformed a build-to-order apartment into a tranquil retreat for a young couple with a passion for Japanese culture and simple, calm design aesthetics. ‘Shizukokoro, which means ‘calm mind’, was the inspiration for this home. We wanted to create an intimate and calm environment that soothes and at best serves as an escape from the daily hustle,’ says Goy Zhenru, principal architect of Goy Architects. ‘Japanese ryokan were also a key source of inspiration. Traditionally, a ryokan is not just a place for travellers to sleep – it serves as a retreat and rejuvenation destination. We wanted this same design philosophy for our clients,’ Zhenru continues.

The traditional ryokan influences are clear to see, from the living room’s intimate raised timber platform and lowered ceiling to the strategic placement of shoji-inspired windows. According to Zhenru, ‘the frosted windows filter harsh external light and create a soft ambient glow in the living room. The visual noise from the adjacent building is also shielded away by these sliding windows.’ A genkan-like space at the entrance encourages guests to remove their shoes and accessories before entering the main living area, while other spaces are obscured and framed within the apartment. ‘We used simple geometry, and a natural and consistent material palette to create a calm environment,’ Goy explains.

The Japanese aesthetic continues throughout the home, including the bathroom. ‘We had an interesting request from the owners for a simple tweak in the bathroom. Two shower holders allow the owners to sit on a stool while having a shower, a style of washing similar to onsen showering practices,’ Goy shares.

Serenity is echoed in a natural material palette combining stone, timber and pale white oak. Goy’s team were keen to showcase the natural texture of the handcrafted objects and furniture such as a fine-sanded, unlacquered timber table and the hemp rug. ‘The grains of the timber and stone remind us not only of the beauty that nature has given to us, but they are also a display of an accumulation of time and natural history,’ Goy explains. Most of the furniture was custom-made in collaboration with Javanese craftspeople, except for a small selection of furniture, ceramics and tableware. ‘One of my favourite designs is in the master bedroom. It has a simple, continuous geometry and design gesture; the desk, bedside table, bed frame and lamps are integrated in one simple unit. Another of my favourite details is behind the frame of the timber sofa. I love the timber slats that add a subtle texture into the overall living space,’ Goy says.

Evoking a sublime serenity, Shizukokoro is a calming abode where the homeowners can escape their daily hustle and embrace Japanese zen tranquility.

Text / Babette Radclyffe-Thomas
Images / Fabian Ong

Creating Order

In this ClementiWoods apartment, JOW Architects has organised planes, material and form into a cosy composition


Singapore’s small apartments often leave little room for creativity, but inventive minds can create poetry from limitations. In the case of the Clementiwoods apartment, JOW Architects has carved out an inviting, clutter-free haven from what used to be a standard layout with banal finishes.  

Timber tones characterise the new space and infuse it with warmth, while the existing teak parquet flooring in the bedroom, stained a dark walnut, generates an introspective ambience. In the common areas, white oak flooring is mirrored on the wall as timber panelling.

This gesture is intended to create visual order and reduce distraction, explains JOW Architects’ director Joseph Wong. The wall panelling lends texture to the space and subtly separates the private and public zones. Slide-and-fold doors open to reveal the corridor to the bedrooms and an open study that was created by removing a wall between the dining room and adjacent bedroom. Elegant construction means that when all doors are closed, a seamless, rhythmic backdrop is created.

‘The project is an attempt to refine the apartment spatially. The original function of each area is retained but we’ve further defined the individual spaces,’ Wong says. The timber panelling, for example, envelopes the space that the family defines as the heart of the home. At the entrance, the lowered ceiling creates a hierarchy between the foyer and living area, but the timber finish overhead integrates it into the overall design.

Soft illumination weaves the elements together, accentuating joinery or – as exemplified by the ‘floating’ dry kitchen counter with base lighting – creates points of interest. A singular Louis Poulsen PH5 lamp above the dining table is a graphic touch within the minimal foil. 

The meticulous way architectural components are composed in relation to one another and expressed with hardworking details is this apartment’s strength. There’s barely a need for further decoration when delight is found in such simple spatial gestures.

Text / Jingmei Luo
Photography / Marc Tan/Studio Periphery

Tropical Minimalism

In this sleek abode, Freight Architects appropriates the traditional shophouse typology by injecting ample light, breeze and views deep into its centre


The Clifton Vale House, designed by Freight Architects, couldn’t be more  distinguishable from its semi-detached neighbour. Its neat, boxy shape, orderly screens and concise gestures stand in stark contrast to its conjoined twin whose pithed, grey terracotta-tiled roof, classical columns and ornamental window grilles present a confusing architectural potpourri.

The client, who lives here with his wife and two children, requested a ‘tropical minimalist’ house – a reflection of their love for good ventilation and natural light and aversion to clutter. They wanted it to feel spacious and akin to living outdoors where air-conditioning isn’t always essential.

‘We began by exploring ways of bringing in more airflow and natural light into a standard semi-detached typology where one side is always attached to a parti-wall,’ shares Kee Jing Zhi, one of the firm’s three design directors and co-founders. He looked to the traditional shophouse for inspiration, but here the results are a modern appropriation rather than a direct import of elements.

‘The front of the house faces east and the long side faces south, which is the prevailing wind direction for the Southwest monsoon season. We designed the main opening of the house facing the south prevailing wind and created a courtyard in the centre of the house for cross-ventilation,’ he explains.

The courtyard, which tunnels up into the attic, is capped with a skylight that allows the interiors to be well-lit and naturally ventilated. It closes automatically during rain and provides a view of the sky overhead. Located just beyond the front door in the centre of the house, the courtyard is anchored by a meditative body of water. It’s flanked by the living room, which, buffered by a garden on the other side, represents the kind of protected outdoor space the client so desired. The air well above the pond also becomes a central ‘breathing shaft’ for the bedrooms, which are arranged around the courtyard with apertures opening onto it.

Another technique Kee applied to mitigate the tropical weather are the screens that wrap the house’s facade and echo within, connecting the mezzanine family room to the courtyard. This bespoke detail combines the benefits of screen, glass and blackout blinds. As Kee describes, ‘The screen is a bi-fold door that can be opened up completely for unobstructed views. Within the single-door module, timber fins can be pivoted at varying angles to control the light, ventilation and amount of privacy. It can also be completely shut for a black-out effect.’

Brevity of material – mainly stone and Chengai timber – and abundant greenery aids in creating a feeling of restfulness and tropicality. Equally disciplined is the house’s formal composition, which came about from the thoughtful placement of ‘boxes’ to create interesting spatial experiences. One example of this is found in the entry sequence, where a black box movie room directly above the entrance creates a sense of compression, accentuating the loftiness of the courtyard that follows.

This house is tropical and minimal, but in no way is it staid.

Text / Jingmei Luo
Images / Darren Soh

Easy Living

The most timeless dwellings are designed not to impress, but to offer comfort. The effortless elegance of the AR House by OBSERVANCY AND ARCHITECTURE embodies this philosophy


When commissioning an architect to design their house, many homeowners are wont to create something of a showpiece. However, the owners of AR House in Singapore by OBSERVANCY AND ARCHITECTURE requested a simple and easy to maintain space.

Originally, they only wanted a single-storey home. However, building regulations dictated that the first storey be elevated to prevent potential flooding, and since the basement was uninhabitable the architects needed to build upwards.

The final construct rises three levels in an ‘L’ shape. In the street-level basement are a car park, storage spaces and a white-walled gallery. The raised first storey is accorded lush views of the greenery embracing the plot that sits in a cul-de-sac. The wing furthest from neighbours contains the living room, guestroom and master bedroom; the other accommodates the dining room, kitchen utilities and junior master bedroom. A lift and staircase join the two wings in the middle.

‘Although the lift and staircase lead you to the living room first, the heart of the house is actually the kitchen and outdoor dining space. The relationship between the living room, pool deck and outdoor dining and kitchen is very important to the owners,’ says the firm’s co-founding principal Terence Chan. The interior segues into the exterior through full-height glass doors.  

Although the architecture eschews a typical tropical aesthetic, it’s designed to harmonise with the elements. For instance, double-band windows in every room ensure plenty of natural light and cross ventilation; a triple-volume light well means an airy basement. Adds Chan, ‘we created a row of skylights on the patio overhangs so that the kitchen receives light from both ends. The owners spend most of their time in the kitchen and they can leave the windows and doors open during rain or shine.’

Practicality was a key consideration throughout. The entire house is wheelchair friendly, down to the master bathroom. Hardy brick tiles clad the exterior so there’s no need to repaint, clean the facade or revarnish. Aside from being easy to maintain, the facade ages well. ‘We like the facade to be subtle and simple, yet well finished and intricate,’ says Lee Jun Xian, the firm’s other co-founding principal. The owners’ preference for lighter tones is reflected in the tan colour of the brick tiles. This matches the pebble wash applied to the poolside exterior hardscapes.

Upon this foil is a disciplined play of horizontal and vertical lines in aluminium fascia and bent sheets. These are applied to ledges and windowsills in order to avoid rain streak marks and allow the windows to be slightly opened even during rain.

Clean lines, bespoke details and natural materials are the standard ingredients in each of OBSERVANCY AND ARCHITECTURE’s projects. Here, these elements carve out a harmonious backdrop for the owners’ collection of art and modern furniture, and set the scene for everyday easy living.

Text / Jingmei Luo
Images / Studio Periphery

By the Sea

Soothing colours, subtle details and dexterous spatial manoeuvres make this apartment by the sea an inviting and relaxing holiday home


It is quite common for homes located near the sea to have water-inspired themes. Some lean toward the literal, which can, after some time, dull into kitsch. This project by Singapore-based 0932 Designs is a subtler alternative that offers timeless appeal.  

The duplex apartment in the Daniel Libeskind-designed Corals at Keppel Bay already had a good structure: a six-metre-high living and dining space fronts a panoramic sea view and the verdant island of Sentosa beyond, edged by utility spaces and five bedrooms. A staircase leads up to a family room and open terrace.

As a holiday home for the client, the space needed to encourage relaxation. To achieve this, 0932 conceived thoughtful spatial adjustments and features: for instance, the orientation of the bed in the master bedroom was changed to face the sea rather than a neighbour’s unit; pocket sliding doors in the second-storey family room minimise disturbances from activity on the lower floor, and vice versa whenever necessary.

Focal points are established as a visual guide through the vast space. ‘The ceiling is only 2.3 metres high, and the low ceiling make the space appear stretched horizontally, with the help of a tinted mirror at one end,’ notes 0932 Design’s co-founder and director CK Low. The juxtaposition with the lofty main living area is dramatic, and is accentuated by a pair of Michael Anastassiades graphic and minimal Tube chandeliers that hang above the dining table.

Sheer curtains flood the interior with a gentle light. To meet the client’s desire for a more spacious lift lobby and natural lighting in the entrance, the designers replaced a swing door and trellis with tinted Valeria sliding doors from Rimadesio that allow light to segue through. Come evening, this space becomes a light-filled portal.

‘The main objective was to keep the spaces airy and breathable,’ says Low. Beige, white, dark chocolate and charcoal tones in the furnishings, fittings and surfaces provide a visually comfortable foil for modern furniture from brands like Walter Knoll and Flexform. 

Practicality and aesthetic delight meld seamlessly throughout. ‘We used more timber and fabric rather than metal, which would oxidise over time being so near the sea,’ explains Low. Curves — commonly used in nautical design — are found in elements like the half-rounded, solid oak strips wrapping the dry kitchen counter sides and master bedroom headboard, as well as in furniture forms.

Meanwhile, the original glass staircase with stainless steel handrails was replaced with an opaque oak timber railing, offering more tactility and comfort to the touch. Along the living room is a wall of white fins that mimics the movements of a boat’s sail in abstraction, and injects three dimensionality to the space. Made of high-quality nanotech laminate, the anti-fingerprint, water-repellent and mould-resistant material considers long-term maintenance.

As Low describes, 0932 Design is a collective ‘driven by an admiration for delicately complex craftsmanship behind what usually seems deceptively simple.’ This apartment clearly reflects this ethos, expressed in every element from the large gestures to the smallest detail.

Text / Jingmei Luo
Images / Tai Heng

155TBR Conservation Shophouse

This two-storey shophouse in Singapore highlights a material that was once considered sub-standard and reserved for utility buildings, not modern family homes


When Singaporean firm Inte Architects were tasked with the renovation, the team, headed by founder Chan Loo Siang, focused their attention on maximising natural light and ventilation while taking advantage of the shophouse’s unusual corner position.

The renovation had to be carried out within the confines of the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s conservation regulations, so Inte Architects proposed replacing the existing steel-framed timbre louvred screen that made up the store frontage with glass blocks that are both easy to maintain and add an aesthetic quality. They turned the frame into a surprising and effective glass-block wall, paradoxically creating a sense of privacy and wide-open space. In Singapore, these glass blocks had been stigmatised as an industrial material, largely due to the limited range of designs and unsightly grouting. After experimenting with various techniques, however, the team was able to land on a method of recessing the grouting behind the blocks’ edges, resulting in a frosted wall where the profile of each block creates a modernised aesthetic. Rather than being a conspicuous design feature, the glass blocks blend into the surrounding streetscape, proof that the common material can be used effectively in a residential context. At the same time, the enclosed space, including the area once reserved for a fish pond, extends the wet kitchen. The kitchen and living areas are bathed in natural light, thanks to the skylight and semi-transparent expanse of wall, where clear blocks are interspersed with frosted versions higher up on the facade to maximise the natural light.

Large shutter windows that appear to be part of the original exterior now open onto the enlarged air well, which connects the home’s multiple floors and adds a sense of volume and height that continues up to the rooftop terrace. Here, steel supports are visually balanced by the glass panels that surround the outdoor space. Glass jalousie windows on the terrace provide natural ventilation to the air well and connect the indoor and outdoor spaces, further blurring the boundaries between the two.

Text / Simone Schultz
Images / Courtesy of Inte Architects


Clouds, sky, nature — these elements inspire the elegant, calm and sensorial design of ESORA, a new fine-dining Japanese restaurant by The Lo & Behold Group


There is something poetic about the word ‘Esora’. It has a lyrical tone when spoken, and the meaning —translated to “painting in the sky” from Japanese — suggests an atmosphere that is genteel, calm and artistic. These are precisely the qualities one encounters in the newest F&B establishment by The Lo & Behold Group in Singapore, housed in a shophouse along Mohamed Sultan Road. From the food, to the plating and environment, a holistic journey is crafted from entry to exit.

The 26-seater Japanese fine-dining restaurant is helmed by Chef Shigeru Koizumi, whose experience at three-star Michelin restaurant Nihonryori RyuGin in Tokyo and two-star Michelin Odette at Singapore’s National Gallery segues into an authentic take on kappo cuisine – a multicourse meal where guests are served at the counter by the chef who decides on the menu. Modern cooking techniques such as the use of pacojets and liquid nitrogen result in inventive gastronomy and the option of a first-of-its-kind tea pairing takes the meal to another level.

The restaurant’s name was chosen by Koizumi, whose fondness for the sky stems from growing up surrounded by nature. This fascination is most apparent in the skylight above the chef’s table and counter seats; dressed in a pleated cloud of Japanese washi paper, its honeycomb pattern washes diffused light down. In this ethereal mise-en-scène, light and shadow animate the surfaces in a gentle dance that transforms through the day.

The setting is crafted by design studio Takenouchi Webb, who also designed The Lo & Behold Group’s other popular establishments, such as The White Rabbit and Tanjong Beach Club. The ability to fashion engaging narratives out of materials is the studio’s forte. Here, the palette is subdued but not without interest. Anchoring one end of the counter is a marble wall, whose sinewy veins inject visual movement into the stillness of the space. Emerald patterned tiles line the walls of the kitchen and tea preparation niche — their delicate size increasing the depth of space.

Natural materials abound, reflecting the seasonal ingredients used. Plaster, timber and stone clad the surfaces while touches of marble and copper provide a more contemporary edge. 'The palette of materials is very restrained. We wanted a bright, modern feel. Modernised Japanese elements comprise timber grid screens with shoji paper effect, the wall behind the chef’s table, which has a very stylised tokonoma (display alcove) element, and the plaster with timber panels that line the wall,’ says the studio's co-founder Marc Webb.

On the other side of the counter, a separate seating area can be screened off when necessary. Adjustments in screen design subtly demarcate the different zones and echo the rhythmic lines of the cylindrical stairwell behind this area. Throughout, rounded details continue the cloud motif. ‘We wanted to soften the space and so rounded the plaster corners of the walls and introduced a series of curved coves around the skylight. The effect of this gives an underlying calm to the restaurant,’ Webb explains.

Other features contribute to the creation of a holistic experience, such as Tay Bak Chiang’s abstract painting Fringe, whose black singular imprint creates a focal point in the restaurant, and the design of a step down at the chef’s kitchen so the chef can be closer to eye-level with patrons sitting at the counter. This reflects Koizumi’s one-degree approach — a term coined by the chef himself to describe the extreme level of attention to detail adopted throughout Esora.

Text / Jingmei Luo
Images / Jovian Lim

Design for Life

Highlights from the Singapore Institute of Architects Conference 2018

Archifest Pavilion

Archifest Pavilion

Last Tuesday (the 2nd of October), several hundred ticket holders convened at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre to hear some of Southeast Asia’s most interesting male* architects present their work. The occasion was the SIA’s annual conference, the professional core of Archifest, which this year took the overarching theme of ‘Design for Life’.

Conference-goers entering MBS from the waterside encountered the Archifest pavilion, designed by open call-winners Kite Studio Architecture, with engineering by Web Structures. Seeking to incorporate characteristics of ‘the ubiquitous HDB void deck’—the area beneath the government-built blocks that house the majority of Singaporeans — the pavilion’s lo-fi brick and rebar walls, and bamboo charcoal flooring enclosed a multi-purpose space for festival activities and exhibitions. Visitors were encouraged to customise the bricks with eco-friendly paint provided by headline sponsor AkzoNobel.

The contrast between the humble, organically changing pavilion and the glossy, consumerist hulk of the Marina Bay Sands complex offered an apt visual illustration of this year’s theme. ‘The spotlight has mostly been shone on iconic, spectacular projects, while the day-to-day architecture sits in its shadows,’ stated the curatorial team, under the guidance of SIA President Seah Chee Huang and Festival Director Yann Follain.  

School of Alfa Omega by RAW Architecture

School of Alfa Omega by RAW Architecture

As an alternative, they propose to explore ‘the architect’s vision to respond to the true needs of humanity’ and the need for ‘design to give back to the community and enrich human life as a whole.’ In his opening address, Seah grounded these grand abstractions in the practicalities of regional events, reminding the audience of the previous week’s earthquake-tsunami disaster in Sulawesi, Indonesia, and the responsibilities of built environment professionals to protect life and strengthen social ties.

Conference keynote speaker Borja Ferrater, Founding Partner Architect of globally successful Barcelona-based family studio OAB, exhorted the audience to jettison perceived divisions between “commercial” and “craftsman” architects. He also offered examples from OAB’s substantial international portfolio to illustrate that a global firm, if working conscientiously with local partners, can still design in a contextually sensitive manner to achieve a sense of place. In comparison, the majority of conference speakers represented smaller-scale practices working in an embedded way within Southeast Asia.

Chuồn Chuồn Kim 2 Kindergarten by KIENTRUC O

Chuồn Chuồn Kim 2 Kindergarten by KIENTRUC O

Chuồn Chuồn Kim 2 Kindergarten by KIENTRUC O

Chuồn Chuồn Kim 2 Kindergarten by KIENTRUC O

Confident that ‘architects can help people change their lifestyle,’ Dam Vu of Vietnamese practice KIENTRUC O, shared two preschool projects for which existing residential buildings were remodelled into colourful, light-filled spaces for exploration. Realrich Sjarief of Jakarta-based R A W Architecture showed how his studio’s philosophy — integrating the need to beautify the world, to believe in something greater than oneself, and to practice mindfulness — manifested in built work. R A W’s Alfa Omega School was produced in close collaboration with skilled bamboo craftsmen, and in only four months, while their experimental studio space in Jakarta also encompasses a free school and public library.

In dialogue with Follain, Colin Seah of Singapore-based Ministry of Design called for new hybrid ways of approaching built heritage ‘as a continuous flow’; alternatives to strict conservation or total demolition. Heritage Architect and Professor Gerard Lico shared a detailed journey through the life of Manila’s Metropolitan Theatre, a Philippine Art Deco landmark that has been brought back from disrepair through a sustained and lively campaign of participatory conservation. Teo Yee Chin of Singapore’s Red Bean Architects used several urban case studies to explore how physical and programmatic connections with its surrounding city are what keep a building relevant and ‘alive’.

Panyaden International Sports School by Chiang Mai Life Construction

Panyaden International Sports School by Chiang Mai Life Construction

Catholic Church, Singapore by MKPL Architects

Catholic Church, Singapore by MKPL Architects

Markus Roselieb of design-build firm Chiang Mai Life Construction made an aggressive case for the expansive architectural potential of bamboo and earth, sharing examples of various buildings in Thailand that aim to bring these traditional materials into the 21st century, and calling for R&D investment to further explore their capacities. Doan Thanh Ha of Vietnam’s H&P Architects shared many examples of thoughtful, scaleable projects (many self-initiated) that put architecture squarely in the service of communities, especially in the rural context where the majority of Vietnamese people live and work.

Bringing the conversation back to densely urbanised Singapore, Siew Man Kok of MKPL Architects shared some reflections on what it means to design sustainable communities, given that they will evolve over decades and generations. Given the highly uncertain times in which we live — a point underscored by this week’s UN report on the urgent need to act on climate change — the conference was positive vote for life, and the architect’s role in helping to sustain it.

*The only female to appear on stage during the daylong proceedings was the anonymous young woman who quietly assisted with the ribbon cutting at the opening ceremony.

Text / Sarah Ichioka
Images / Courtesy of Archifest 2018

Archifest Pavilion, Exhibition

Archifest Pavilion, Exhibition

The Panorama

Singaporean architect Goy Zhenru transformed this small condo into a sensory sanctuary


When Goy Zhenru and her team were approached by a couple to renovate their 100-square-metre condominium in buzzing central Singapore, they were tasked with scaling up the living and dining areas while maximising natural light and ventilation.

After consulting with the pair, Goy conceptualised a calming and relaxed atmosphere that would be a sanctuary from the city life just outside. Inspired by scenography as the design strategy, the team set out to create a variety of engaging ‘scenes’ that the couple could retreat into.

In the narrow entrance corridor, the floor was reconstructed with a concrete pebble wash to introduce the sensory experience and enhance the transition from public to private space.

By doing away with the existing kitchen walls and the two bedrooms adjacent to the kitchen, the team expanded the living room space to segue into the now-open plan kitchen and newly created library and lounge room. Natural light flows from these areas into the corridor and kitchen, and interaction and communication are freer in the space that had been walled in and boxed off.

In the kitchen the ample countertop doubles as a preparation surface and a dining table, while the library desk can be slotted underneath it to extend the surface area and accommodate more guests.

With the addition of half-glazed sliding doors, what were once the bedroom spaces can still be divided off as a second guest bedroom, and when the doors are open the teak-textured shelves in the library offer an interesting juxtaposition with the soft linen curtains in the facing room.

For the living room, Goy selected a Lincak bamboo daybed by Santai, the design of which is inspired by the amben, a Javanese bamboo platform used for all manner of daily activities like crafting and trade. With flexible bamboo slats, it offers a ‘bounce’ that adds another layer to the sensory experience of the home. The bamboo and wooden pieces in the living room also create a visual passage between the indoor space and the undercover terrace overlooking the city below. A handwoven banana fibre carpet demarcates the lounging space from the kitchen and adds to the textural variations of the flooring.

In the master bedroom, fixed black woven rattan slats with timber frames have been fixed against a tea-coloured mirror wall. The effect of screening off the room from its own reflection at once creates a subtle illusion of space and adds a handmade sensory layer to the room.

By incorporating a variety of interesting textures and curating spatial consumption, Goy re-created the home as an immersive sensory experience that encourages the couple to slow down and feel at home in their sanctuary.

Text / Simone Schultz
Images / Marc Tan

Retro Stylin’

This 90-square-metre flat in Singapore is staged for mid-century modern design


The owner of this apartment had a singular request of his designer. Mikael Teh, principal of The Monocot Studio, recalls, “Daryl came to me saying, ‘I’ve bought four retro pink dining chairs and a Karimoku 60 sofa. Can you incorporate them into my apartment?’” 

Teh understood that Daryl Foo was really asking for a home in which the beauty of midcentury industrial design could shine. Teh shares, “My approach is quite architectural. I wanted to clean up the space and give it a cohesive look with clean and straightforward layout with basic fixtures and fittings—nothing too fancy to let the carefully curated pieces of furniture stand out.”

Foo and Teh agreed to preserve as many existing elements of the 38-year-old flat as possible, including the terrazzo, the main gate, and louvred windows. The palette is then controlled, with new interior constructions rendered in basic and muted building materials of concrete, plywood, stainless steel and wired glass. As the flat is only 90 square metres, the plan was to gut the interior and create a flowing, open plan for the living spaces.

The living spaces segue into one another, transitioning only subtly as the flooring change from terrazzo (in the living room) to concrete (in the dining and kitchen area). The combined dining table and cooking unit stands anchor as a central island. Peripheral spaces are maximised, with the kitchen unit and the bookcase sharing a long wall. A sitting bench is also installed under the window, lit by the wall-mounted, limited edition Jean Prouvé Petite Potence lamp—itself a minimal design, reduced to its essential components. 

Another decision was to retain only one bedroom and keep it open to maximise light as well as a sense of spaciousness. Wired glass (paired with privacy blinds) allows the room to be enclosed for air-conditioning while letting light in.

For the compact bathroom, Teh proposed to relocate the sink outside so the shower area could be enlarged. He shares of that the choice of concrete for the custom-built sink stand is a nod to the concrete sinks of the past. In the area, again, the palette is controlled. Teh shares, “I wanted the retro element to be subtle therefore we both agreed to only use mosaic on the floor on the bathroom. The WC and shower area are tiled in basic 100x100 white tiles with green grouting.”

Other notable design features include the Louis Poulsen lamps (PH 4/3 over the dining table and PH 5 in the kitchen), Marko dining chairs (that eventually replaced the retro pink ones Foo bought), as well as vintage Danish side tables in the living room and the bedroom. 

Text / Yvonne Xu
Images / Marc Tan

The Straits Club

A wave of entrepreneurs, creatives and social innovators — from new-age hawkers to upstart product designers — is shaking up the status quo in Singapore and creating demand for a new breed of private members’ clubs. Enter The Straits Clan. Housed in a heritage shophouse, the club provides an environment conducive to creative connections.


Managed by lifestyle company The Lo & Behold Group under the direction of Wee Teng Wen, the clubhouse celebrates contemporary living in South East Asia while offering an update to the colonial- era hallmark. ‘We had a vision of creating a private members’ club that sought to challenge what that has traditionally stood for,’ explains Wee. ‘We wanted a club that is a modern representation of how we live, work and play in our part of the world.’

As guests enter the 2000-square-metre heritage building, they are immersed in homage to the city-state. With interiors deftly handled by local design duo Takenouchi Webb, references to Singapore’s architectural markers include Shanghai plaster adapted from neoclassical colonial buildings, ventilation blocks from public housing stairwells and Peranakan- inspired tilework. According to the designers, staying true to local culture was the cornerstone of the project brief.

And when it came to the historic structure, scrupulous attention was paid to period detailing. ‘A big part was to see what elements we could bring back to the original form,’ says Marc Webb. A second-level courtyard was thus restored,flanked by a bar and bistro on either side that evoke distinctive eras in Singapore’s history. The bar, decked in contrasting wooden and rattan furnishing, is reminiscent of a colonial taproom, while the bistro recalls 1970s coffee shops with its geometric floor tiles and onyx feature wall.

In the lobby lounge, Clan Café is open to members and the public alike, and offers a refined tea salon setting that transitions into a convivial bar in the evenings. During the day, sunlight streams in through the glass-panelled facade, highlighting a whimsical mural by Singaporean artists RIPPLE ROOT and a towering shelf of eclectic ceramics curated byflorist John Lim of This Humid House. At the same time, the uninterrupted view is reflective of Straits Clan’s ethos — extending a warm welcome to all who share in their appreciation for entrepreneurial zeal and ingenuity.

The community element of the club is key, cultivating conversation and collaboration. ‘Singapore has been pushing boundaries and driving change on so many fronts, but these have been for the most part led by individuals in their own silos,’ explains Wee. At The Straits Clan, he aims to change that.

Text / Joseph Koh
Images / Jovian Lim

Darker Temperaments

Clever rejigs and a deftly applied colour scheme set this Singaporean HDB flat apart from the pack

This 400-square-metre apartment in Singapore’s west is what locals familiarly call a five-room HDB (Housing Development Board) flat — but not many would recognise it as such. With a redrawn floor plan and a colour scheme in which black features prominently, the apartment takes on a larger character that belies its HDB origins.

Singapore’s HDB flats are the outcome of a national public housing project started in 1960. Today, there are more than one million such flats across the country’s 26 towns and estates, housing over four-fifths of the resident population. HDB is lauded for its successful provision of comfortable and affordable housing in the densely-populated, land-scarce city. While remarkably efficient as a housing scheme, the flats — cast in the same mould — turn out more or less selfsame. The challenge of working with one is therefore in defining its personality.

For the home of brothers Fabio and Hendro, designer Joey Chia of IN-EXPAT had a bold proposition — to use the colour black as a thematic anchor. Chia shares that while the brothers are adventurous and open to novel propositions, they desired a home with a calming atmosphere. ‘The brothers do not like anything over the top. Most importantly, they were after a clean look that doesn’t compromise on the potential of the space,’ explains Chia. They found black to be suitably masculine, modern and sleek, yet also quiet and toned down.

But black can be tricky — too much of it overwhelms. To give dimensionality to the all-black surfaces, metallic accents were introduced in the form of brass plates fitted into the wardrobe's customised door handles as well as a gold-glass backsplash over the kitchen counter.

The overall atmosphere is subdued and well-composed with accessories that the brothers personally shopped for. The living room is anchored by a brown leather sofa, set atop a rug with brushed tones of blue and white. On the wall, an abstract painting in soft watercolours offsets the black tones in the adjoining dining area.

Other interior alterations personalise the space, including the enclosing of floorspace previously allocated to a balcony, making for a continuous — and much more spacious — living area. A bar ledge spanning the length of the windows makes for an additional perch with outside views. The door of the master bedroom was also repositioned to incorporate a more pampering vanity area outside the bathroom.

The kitchen, in particular, was co-designed with the brothers for whom both functionality and aesthetics are priorities. ‘We consolidated the storage requirements into a larger single tower in order to avoid having cabinetry above the kitchen counter,’ shares Chia. ‘The kitchen storage units were then designed as a minimalistic black colour block.’

Text / Yvonne Xe

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