d+a Issue 100 (Preview)

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WALLS Travelling through time with Hermès REPORTED BY MARTIN TEO / IMAGES HERMÈS





he French house of Hermès has a rich history firmly established in saddlery and fine equestrian leather goods. D+A looks at the 180-year progression of this humble house of harness makers, and observes how it has transformed itself into a brand synonymous with exquisite craftsmanship. Since its 1837 beginning in a small workshop in Paris, Hermès has been designing and crafting objects to lend elegance to the daily lives of its customers. Observing the same credo, its collections for the home offer functionality and beauty, rigour and fantasy, which come together in perfect harmony. Putting these ideas into reality are the new artistic directors of Hermès, architect Charlotte Macaux Perelman and publisher Alexis Fabry.

From 7 to 29 October 2017, Hermès will present its latest creations for the home at its Liat Towers store in Singapore. Through the Walls is an installation that sees spaces metamorphosed: architecture within architecture, a home within a home. The store now becomes a place to live. The backdrop deconstructs and then reconstructs the space. The entire home has been reinvented to create a new setting featuring edgy angles and ingenious products. Carried by the sounds of everyday life, the objects converse and allow us to listen in on their intimate conversations. From lacquer to cashmere, paper to wicker, and to the fluid lines of leather, every material plays a part in this familiar exchange. Pieces of furniture in the collection embrace movement, acting out scenes from our lives. The porcelain seems unafraid of disorder. Feel the emancipation of each object in the intimacy offered by the unique and immersive experience. It is all about precision of lines and profusion of narrative harmonising in a succession of universes.

Through the Walls invites you to imagine the art of living in a fantasised world inhabited by a playful spirit. The clitter clatter! The ding-dongs! Or a crescendo of sounds at a tea party. Welcome to the house of Hermès.

Thierry Hermès establishes the French house Hermès in a workshop in Paris’ 9th arrondissement making harnesses and saddles.


During its 100th anniversary in 1937, the first scarf is created, inspired by the silk that has been used for making jockeys’ colours.


Hermès first enters into the private realms of its clients, kitting them out not only with horse tackle and clothing, but also equipping their homes with desk accessories, decorative objects, plaids, picnic hampers, games and lamps. After a meeting with legendary interior decorator Jean-Michel Frank, Hermès master leatherworkers and saddlers are entrusted with the pique-sellier covering of Frank’s furniture. Seats, furniture and walls are soon covered in leather, bringing astonishing creations to a clientele hungry for something novel.


Architect and decorator Paul Dupré-Lafon designs the Home-Valet for the maison. The collection has since been reissued in 2010.


As open air sports and leisure become widely popular, Hermès comes out with beach towels that are printed with the maison’s signature colours and designs.


Hermès releases their first collection of items in the form of plaids and blankets, which are introduced for the new motorcars. The maison also adds a range of decorative interior objects to the novel collection. In the Progressive Era of the early 1900s, Hermès enters a new phase of designing desk accessories, decorative objects and games, as well as beach accessories. MODERN DAY DESCENDANTS OF THE EARLIEST BLANKETS AND ART OF LIVING OBJECTS BY HERMÈS




The art of living and entertaining becomes more prominently curated with the Hermès style and ethos. The maison expresses its code of aesthetics through fascinating collections of porcelain, faïence, crystal, silver, textiles and decorative objects. Some of the brand’s most well-loved table services include Toucans (1986), Nil (2000), Cheval d’Orient (2006), Mosaïque au 24 (2009), Bleus d’Ailleurs (2011), Rallye 24 (2013) Mosaïque au 24 (2014), Ikat (1015) and Carnets d’Equateur (2016).


Known for its textile collections and table services, Hermès goes back to its roots by presenting a reissue of timeless furniture by Jean-Michel Frank at its new Parisian store at 17 Rue de Sèvres. During this time, Hermès also launches its first collection of furnishing fabrics, wallpapers and rugs.


Imagined by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, Hermès turns its attention to sculpting interior spaces with Module H, a modular system of architectural elements for walls and partitions.



Interior architects Rena Dumas and Peter Coles create Pippa, a line of nomadic folding furniture that embodies an ideal of travel in the Hermès way.

Les Nécessaires d’Hermès, a collection of occasional furniture by French designer Philippe Nigro is introduced. Each uncluttered, cleverly designed piece in the collection carries out several functions. In its narrative as “essential necessities”, the furniture can be used for sitting, relaxing, as storage or to enhance the composition of an interior space. Echoing its quest to refine the art of living, the pieces display surprising features that bring a touch of magic to the every day and offer a solution to the perennial quest for comfort and practicality.


The house of Hermès takes part in the prestigious Milan International Furniture Show for the first time, presenting a comprehensive range of designs for the home, including its first line of contemporary furniture by guest designers Enzo Mari, Antonio Citterio and the RDAI studio (Rena Dumas Architecture Intérieur). Hermès also showcases an exclusive range of furnishing fabrics, wallpaper and carpets in this show.



Hermès expands the Les Nécessaires series with a few new additions just as ingenious and elegant as their predecessors. Elements of print and texture are added to add vibrancy to the existing autumnal palette.

2017 and beyond

INSPIRED BY HUMBLE BEGINNINGS In its latest collection of objects and furniture for the home, Hermès reengages with the first act of the saddler and harnessmaker. The notion of Hermès as a saddler – dressing objects as how it dressed the horse. The use of leather becomes fundamental. More precisely, the leather today reveals the objects as formerly it exposed the body of the horse.


Hermès broadens its home universe with two lighting collections, Pantographe and Harnais (by Italian designer Michele De Lucchi) and the portable, modular La Lanterne d’Hermès lamp (by French visual artist Yann Kersalé).

The new collection – Lien d’Hermès – links time and space, recalling the origin of Hermès as a harness and saddlemaker.


Under the aegis of Charlotte Perelman and Alexis Fabry, artistic directors for the home, Hermès presents new furniture collections, a line of objects and its new fabric and wallpaper creations. The collection combines balance, rigour and imaginativeness, materials and expertise, as well as creative freedom as each object embodies the values of Hermès.

The brand also unveils some exceptional bespoke pieces including the Curiosités d’Hermès. Inspired by the charming disorder of the curiosity cabinets from the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods, in which the each object had its proper place, le Curiousités d’Hermès reinterprets this idea of highlighting precious objects. Another unexpected addition to the collection is the Club Bar, the Coffre à chassures (shoe cabinet) and the Dressoir à thés (tea cabinet) that reflect an art of living associated with the pleasure of inviting and sharing.

Leather is combined with light maple wood, lacquer, wicker, crystal and metal. Acting as a more prominent feature to the object, leather now structures the object instead of just decorating. It unburdens. It purifies. As a lid, it completes a box. As a strap, it underlines the transparency of a vase whose dimensions it shapes. As a bridle, it configures the disorientating geometry of the Groom attelé, an indoor harness designed to hold, hang or hook. As sheathing, it offers all of its softness and warmth to the hands that push the Diligence, a serving trolley in wickerwork and wood. And this is perhaps the most important aspect of this art de vivre – to appeal to the senses, to give pleasure and to feel good at home. The connection to equestrian feats is unquestionable. The paradoxical house of Hermès is constantly moving towards the essential. Objects and furniture now seek to be captivating.





Rosewood Hotels & Resorts® manages 20 one-of-a-kind luxury properties in 12 countries, with 16 new hotels under development. Each Rosewood hotel embraces the brand’s A Sense of Place® philosophy to reflect the individual location’s history, culture and sensibilities. The Rosewood collection includes some of the world’s most legendary hotels and resorts, including The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel in New York, Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas and Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel in Paris, as well as new classics such as Rosewood Beijing. Rosewood Hotels & Resorts targets to double its number of hotels in operation by 2020.



Rather than focussing on the unique characteristics of the property, the campaign reimagines Rosewood’s A Sense of Place® philosophy through a celebration of each guest’s unique personality, showcasing how Rosewood enables guests to be who they want to be, and encourages them to embody their most authentic self. In each scene, hotel associates blend seamlessly into the narrative, yet simultaneously play essential supporting roles in empowering guests to discover their personal journey and identity. From handing a guitar to a group of musicians to holding a door open for a departing guest, the staff are inconspicuous, yet indispensable in moments of guest transformation and discovery. “The opening of Hôtel de Crillon marks a milestone for the Rosewood Hotels & Resorts brand, and presented the perfect moment to launch this innovative advertising campaign,” says Sonia Cheng, chief executive officer at Rosewood Hotel Group. “The campaign brings our Sense of Place® philosophy to life in a new way, and is the perfect way to celebrate the next stage of this timeless Parisian landmark, as well as the Rosewood brand as we continue our thoughtful expansion around the globe.” Although the rich history of the Hôtel de Crillon is anchored in the 18th century, Dangin opines that the property has always represented a place of modernity. He shares: “To celebrate its re-birth, Rosewood and I wanted the campaign to reflect this heritage with a very modern twist, inspired by the characters that have walked, and will walk through those storied doors. These characters are the embodiment of the #RosewoodRegular.” (www.rosewoodhotels.com)

he Rosewood Hotels & Resorts® recently announced the launch of a new global advertising campaign developed in partnership with Studio Dangin, a creative agency renowned for its collaborations with the world’s most influential fashion, lifestyle, and fragrance brands, including Balenciaga, Balmain, Lancôme, Prada, Alexander Wang, and Vera Wang. The new campaign reimagines Rosewood’s A Sense of Place® philosophy while simultaneously positioning the luxury hotel group as an innovator of global style with a growing presence in Europe and Asia. Embodying a new and arresting vision of luxury that is unprecedented in traditional hospitality advertisements, the campaign is comprised of powerful photography and five short films that feature “The Rosewood Regulars” at Rosewood’s newest property in Paris, Hôtel de Crillon. Shot by Pascal Dangin, CEO and chief creative officer at Studio Dangin, each photo and film depicts a striking story unfolding at the hotel, and is anchored by an adjective, evocative not only of the hotel but also of the brand – revolutionnaire (revolutionary), iconique (iconic), audacieux (audacious), diplomatique (diplomatic), and radical. Olivier Rousteing, the creative director of Balmain, and his friends are featured as “The Rosewood Regulars”, who are an eclectic and sophisticated group of musicians, fashionistas, families, and culture mavens, that represent the brand’s most trusted clientele and today’s modern traveller, who considers experience to be their most precious commodity and whose wealth is measured in freedom.


LEGENDS L EADERS LEGACI ES The old informs the new. The cycle of inspiration continues as we speak to legendary architects of the century, game-changing visionaries and new creatives on preserving beliefs, craftsmanship and legacies.



AN ARCHITECT’S ARCHITECT I.M. Pei celebrated his 100th birthday this April. His sons, Didi and Sandi, impart insights into the father, the husband and the man behind the architect, along with behind-the-scene details on some of his momentous works. WORDS REBECCA LO / PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY PEI PARTNERSHIP ARCHITECTS UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED



1. I.M. Pei inside the Grand Louvre, 2010. 2. I.M. Pei portrait by Victor Orlewicz, 2012, photo courtesy Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. 3. Philanthropist Paul Mellon (left), chairman of the National Gallery of Art’s Board of Trustees, with J. Carter Brown (centre), director of the National Gallery of Art from 1969 to 1992, and I.M. Pei, inside the East Wing, National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. circa 1975. 4. I.M. Pei (second from left) with Lyndon B. Johnson (centre), Vice President of the United States, circa 1962. 5. I.M. Pei receives an honorary doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, 1970.


THE OPENING SCENE OF THE 2017 critically acclaimed box office smash Wonder Woman shows Diana Prince, portrayed by Israeli actress Gal Gadot, on her way to work as a curator at the Louvre. She walks briskly past the Grand Louvre, subtly introducing millions of DC fan boys and girls to (arguably) France’s most famous complex. Having his pyramid become a popular movie backdrop was most likely something Ieoh Ming Pei never envisioned when he designed it 35 years ago. Yet the Grand Louvre, like many of his projects, has taken on a life of its own independent of the architect’s fingerprints—just as buildings ought to do after the last brick is set, the last pane of glass is inserted and the first users are welcomed inside.

6. I.M. Pei onboard the SS President Coolidge sailing from Shanghai to San Francisco, 1935.


On 26 April 2017, Pei turned 100 years of age. The milestone birthday was marked by I.M. Pei: A Centennial Celebration, a panel discussion held at his alma mater, Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD), on 30 March 2017. Pei’s business partner Harry Cobb of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners (PCF) and fellow GSD alumnus gave the opening address. The occasion will further be celebrated with a two-part symposium organised by Hong Kong architecture museum M+, to be held in October in Cambridge in collaboration with the GSD, and in December in Hong Kong in collaboration with The University of Hong Kong. Further, this year the American Institute of Architects awarded its Twenty-Five Year Award in recognition of work that has withstood the test of


time to the Grand Louvre; it is Pei’s third such award after receiving one in 2004 for the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. and in 2011 for the John Hancock Building in Boston. QUIETLY MONUMENTAL Pei himself, retired in recent years, would brush aside all of these events and accolades; he was a man who preferred to let his buildings speak for themselves. Yet at a time when architects spend a significant amount of time and effort on marketing, when some take on the status of movie stars, when buildings are memorable precisely because they resemble landed UFOs – and some are equally as alien contextually – Pei’s





portfolio requires a degree of discourse. His works have been discussed, analysed and criticised by countless design and history professors for decades; they have defied being neatly labelled under any particular movement. To Asians in particular, this Guangzhou born, Hong Kong and Shanghai raised, American educated architect represents the dream. And it is because the projects seem inevitable that Pei’s work continues to inspire despite their (relative) modesty – very much as the man himself does. Two of Pei’s four children became architects; Chien Chung (Didi) and Li Chung (Sandi) both worked at PCF shortly after they graduated until forming their own firm, Pei Partnership Architects, in 1992. By both brothers’ accounts, though, their childhood was like many others. “Today, architects’ names are on the tip of everyone’s tongues,” acknowledges Didi as he continues: “Growing up, I had no sense of my father’s fame. I went to school with George W. Bush – and when he ran for president, the press called me to ask about our famous fathers. But

when we were young, no one knew who our dads were. The real turning point was the Kennedy Library in 1964 – every architect wanted that job. My father got it. First it was supposed to be built at Harvard. But it was the 60s and there were protests. The site was moved. He got the commission for the East Wing after Kennedy; if there was no Kennedy commission, there would not have been an East Wing, though the latter opened first.” IDYLLIC FAMILY LIFE “My parents tried to provide a wholesome upbringing that reflected their beliefs in the importance of education and exposure to a diversity of experiences and cultures,” recalls Sandi. “Our family is close. Even into our adult lives – married with our own families, homes and commitments – we continued to gather for Sunday dinners at our favourite Chinese or Italian restaurants, or for a meal cooked by my mother. One of my father’s earliest projects was


7. The Pei family vacations in Europe. Back row: Eileen, Didi, T’ing, Sandi; front row: Liane, Pei. Circa 1964. 8. Pei extended family portrait taken in their Manhattan apartment including Pei’s siblings Y.T. Pei and Denise Sze, step-sister Patty Pei, the Pei children and their nanny Marie Helland (left, front row), circa 1967. 9.Pei (seated) celebrated his 100th birthday on 26 April 2017 with his children Didi (left), Liane (centre) and Sandi (right), 2017, photography by Fred Marcus Photography. 10. Eileen and I.M. Pei, 2010, photography by Frédéric Reglain.




the design of a country house where we would spend summers. An hour outside of Manhattan, it was an oasis set atop one of Westchester’s tallest hills. I have vivid recollections of swimming, playing croquet and lounging on rope hammocks swaying in screened-in porches, dinners of steak and fresh corn, and bottles of fine red wine.” Didi remembers the many formulative trips the family took; Pei is famously fond of travel. At first, they took road trips out to western America with the three Pei brothers roughhousing in the back seat all the way; then further afield to Europe, after being joined by their younger sister Liane. “When my late older brother T’ing Chung graduated from prep school in 1962, we went to

Europe for the first time,” he recollects. “My father dropped us off in a country house, went back to work, and picked us up at the end of summer for a drive around the country. In 1964, when I graduated, we did the same thing in Italy. Those were wonderful trips – they had a lot to do with my deciding to become an architect, after seeing all of Europe’s architectural masterpieces.” YIN TO PEI’S YANG The brothers praised the way their mother, the late Eileen Loo Pei, raised them. A landscape architecture graduate from GSD, the stay-at-home mom was their rock. “My father worked very hard, and my mother ran a tight ship at home,” Didi explains. “She cooked mostly western food, since she thought Chinese food was too oily for us. At parties that some uncle would host, there would be a kids’ table and an adults’ table. If something went wrong, she would threaten to tell our father. My father spoke Cantonese and Shanghainese, while my mother spoke Mandarin and Cantonese; they would speak in Cantonese if they wanted to discuss something private. We did not learn any Chinese at home, as my parents always thought we would return to live in China. Of course we never did.” “My mother’s death on the 70th anniversary of their marriage symbolised for me the incomparable and close relationship they forged together,” reveals Sandi. “It was marked by not only intense love but mutual support and respect. There was complementarity, independence and equivalence that provided balance. They shared a passion for travel, for culture, for food and for friends. This was exemplified by their immersion in the art world, and their closeness to many painters and sculptors whose work they would follow and collect,” he remembers.


CHINESE AMERICAN-NESS In 1990, partly due to the global repercussions of the 1989 Tiananmen Square events, Pei established the Committee of 100 to promote Chinese Americans dedicated to excellence and achievement. “After Tiananmen, there was strong reaction against anything Chinese in the States,” confides Didi. “Henry Kissinger encouraged him to create this organisation. My father called up some of his friends, including Yo Yo Ma, and they became the founders. There are now more than 100 members, including actress Joan Chen and composer Tan Dun.”

“As my father’s career soared and he no longer struggled for commissions, he was able to devote more quality time to his family,” explains Sandi. “That included a number of grandchildren, and his lifelong interest in culture. Until he retired, most of his projects were in the States, but starting with the Grand Louvre, his work became almost exclusively international. Museums in Luxembourg, Germany, Japan and Qatar followed, as well as the Suzhou Museum in our ancestral homeland. These commissions gave him a chance to become a student of history, and he toured many countries


in search of guidance and inspiration for his designs. Periods of reflection and quiet contemplation in his library would often yield the formative language that he would employ on a particular project. By his own admission, one of the highlights of his career was being named an Officier in the Legion d’Honneur in 1993 by President Francois Mitterand for the design of the Grand Louvre. On the occasion of his induction, our entire family was invited to witness the ceremony in the Elysee Palace. It was an event that we all recognised as the most poignant tribute for my father’s single most significant project.”


ON SHAPING THE FUTURE OF ARCHITECTURE His name rings more than just a bell. He has created a great impression with a remarkable range of buildings across the Asian region. From the “deconstructed” Mahanakhon Tower in Bangkok to The Interlace in Singapore, the architect continues to realise buildings that become talks of the town. With the latest addition to his portfolio, Ole Scheeren beats the odds as he unveils yet another architectural triumph. The 46-year-old architect talks to d+a about DUO, his philosophies and the importance of being emotionally connected to his designs. INTERVIEW MARTIN TEO / PORTRAIT BURO-OS AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY CLAUDIO CHOCK / IMAGES M+S PTE LTD




Tell us more about the DUO project and why the building is so unique. The project started in 2011, when the Singaporean and the Malaysian governments concluded a land swap deal. The deal was the exchange of a piece of railway line and a railway station in Singapore that was under Malaysian ownership, in return for a historic joint venture between the two countries, to develop two projects in the heart of Singapore. DUO is one of them. What interested me about the project was that it was a cooperation of two countries that had possibly never co-developed a building or a larger project before. I felt that the symbolic importance of the project needed to be reflected in the architecture itself. The design of the building is a twin tower configuration, two towers in a very dynamic relationship to each other that are inscribed in an urban context in a very particular way. Rather than deny their surroundings, they adopt them and make sense out of a previously almost random urban context, utilising a piece of no man’s land between two totally unrelated towers. We put the urban context into a precise form so that the coming together of the two countries, or the coming together of the two buildings, resolves a whole set of larger issues surrounding the pair of towers. In that we find a very strong symbolic importance

From the experience that you’ve gained throughout your illustrious career, what have you learned about designing a landmark building in the ASEAN region? Do the buildings respond differently according to site context? All my buildings are highly specific insertions into highly specific environments and contexts. I’m very interested in the specificity of an environment in the country, the city, or the culture we’re working in, and of course also of the specific site the building is situated in. I believe that working in the ASEAN region poses a number of challenges to a project. There is the climate, and with the climate comes an incredibly powerful tropical vegetation which I love and embrace in our work in manifold ways. There are also regional practices that have to be considered, for example, one has to be aware of Feng Shui. DUO was a project that very specifically addressed some of these realities. There is also the joy and the energy of human life in this region that we can celebrate with our architecture. Your designs are distinctive, prominent and groundbreaking. How would you describe your design aesthetic? I’m not interested in aesthetics per se as an independent quantity. Instead, I’m interested in what kind of aesthetic results from a series of fundamental interests that we have in what we want architecture to do and to be. Rather than creating silhouettes and shapes, or contorted forms of seemingly expressive sculptural gestures, our architecture derives its figure from an idea of what we think about the life of people. How we create and script human relationships through the spaces we build, and how these in return can become and form the image and the shape of a building. How important is it to be emotionally connected to your designs? Do you believe

You’ve designed some of the most outstanding buildings and the most experimental shapes we’ve seen in this region. What are the unique selling points that you’re bringing this time to DUO? I think it is the way that a singular building or a set of twin towers is able to repair and restore clarity and sense to the urban environment is a very strong and unique move.


in story-telling when it comes to creating the narrative for your concept and designs? I think we are emotional creatures as human beings and I also believe that spaces hold an emotional power. It is of course very important to be aware and emotionally sensitive and active when we design spaces. The idea of the narrative, the idea of the stories of people inside the structures we create, have always been part of a working methodology: The imagination of what could happen in the spaces we generate is a very important driver to the fantasies and ideas behind our work. You mentioned in a talk that the “cursed doctrine” – Form Follows Function – condemned architecture to a utilitarian rigour and restrained purpose. What’s your take on the term – Form Follows Fiction? The idea behind Form Follows Fiction was to suggest that while buildings and architecture are of course a functional undertaking which has to fulfil many practical concerns, we should not simply stop there, but look at architecture as a space for fictional possibilities, a space for people to live, to work, to act, to feel, and to explore. The fiction of these human explorations is both a tool to script the spaces we create, and at the same time the people inhabiting those spaces rescript our architecture through their very inhabitation and usage. It’s this relationship between fantasy and reality that I see as defining to our architecture. In the context of creating narrative hybrids, can you explain the complexity of DUO? Partly, it is the creation of two very dynamic and strongly related urban figures that have a visual and spatial exchange with each other. You could describe this as a set of moving gestures that surround each other and in this case express a symbolic relationship between two parts coming together. At the same time they reach out into the urban realm and domain


MERGING FINITUDE IN INFINITY Some infinities are greater than others, and legendary artist Yayoi Kusama gifts us with her insight of looking beyond the possible. Her most recent show, Life is the Heart of a Rainbow, held at the National Gallery Singapore in collaboration with Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), Brisbane, Australia concluded on 3 September. Co-curated by Russell Storer and Adele Tan of the Gallery and Reuben Keehan of QAGOMA, the exhibition will travel to QAGOMA in November 2017 after its Singapore debut. WORDS SARAH NH VOGELER / PHOTOGRAPHY ©YAYOI KUSAMA COURTESY OF OTA FINE ARTS, TOKYO/SINGAPORE, VICTORIA MIRO GALLERY, LONDON, DAVID ZWIRNER, NEW YORK


During the media preview, a taped recording greets the audience:“It is my great pleasure to hold a solo show at The National Gallery Singapore. Every day I struggle intensely from morning to night to create artworks. Creation of art is a solitary pursuit. As an artist, I am convinced this can only be achieved by struggling desperately and risking my life to inspire and share my passion with people around the world. This is my belief, and I want it to be delivered as my message throughout the world. I want to keep fighting until my last breath. It is my most earnest wish and greatest pleasure to imagine that the slightest touch of my desire in creation, hope and passion towards art are sensed by everyone even after my death. The fight stretches to infinity. I want to create artworks that are even more innovative. My sleepless nights are spent thinking of this. My desires for creations are longings for the unknown mystery. As an avant-garde artist I just want to fight to the end of the universe, until I expire.” From avant-garde artist Yayoi Kusama with Love.

1. Pumpkin 1981 Acrylic on canvas 130 x 97 cm Collection of Daisuke Miyatsu, Japan Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/ Singapore ©YAYOI KUSAMA



B E GI N N I N GS Yayoi Kusama grew up privileged, a descendant of a deeply-respected family who for more than a century had managed wholesale seed nurseries on massive expanses of land. Her love for drawing and painting was inherent; she never left home without

her sketchbook, always looking for something to immortalise. Yayoi would run freely in the family’s seed-harvesting terrains, sinking into beds of violets, a heart-breaking longing in her heart for things she had yet to understand, but wanted so much still. These flowers would on occasion take on human expressions and speak to her, in human language. Her pet dog would eventually do the same. Petrified and confused, Yayoi would run home and seek refuge in her closet, furiously drawing what she witnessed. Of vast wealth, her family supported the arts, but the very thought of their daughter becoming an artist was unacceptable. It was to be a war between mother and daughter especially, one which was waged throughout her adolescent life. Three years after the war ended, Yayoi became a student at the Kyoto Municipal School of Arts and Crafts. She despised it, describing her time there as “unbearable, useless, oppressive, old-fashioned and exasperating.” Escape from a life despotic was constantly on her mind. Yayoi’s first choice was France, even going as far as writing to the President of her desire to live and paint there. But learning the language was frustrating. After much thought, she decided on her second choice: America, a decision forged after seeing a photograph of a striking


2. Narcissus Garden, at the 33rd Venice Biennale 1966 Photographs, prints from digital file Collection of the Artist ©YAYOI KUSAMA

child with weaved locks. Yayoi at the time imagined a romantic America overflowing with barefooted children and virgin prehistoric woodlands. She agonised, “How to get there though? How to get to a country where I had absolutely no connections?” Serendipitously, Yayoi chanced upon a book of Georgia O’Keeffe paintings in a second-hand bookstore in Matsumoto City. And for reasons only known to her, was convinced that being an artist was the life-line she needed to make her way to America. A six-hour train ride to the American Embassy in Shinjuku ensued, and she found O’Keeffe’s address in a copy of Who’s Who. Yayoi herself would be later listed in the directory as her career took off. The revolutionary modern artist Georgia O’Keeffe and husband, distinguished photographer Alfred Stieglitz were already world-celebrated. Her works had reached mythical proportions; watercolours of intense nudes, endless skies, and scenery which reduced to bare bones the American backwoods in burning light. She was the ascetic Queen living a liberated life and pioneering art in the blistering New Mexico wild lands. Yayoi wrote to O’Keeffe. And Georgia replied. They were to meet later, and both artists corresponded regularly.


A NEW FORM OF CRAFTMANSHIP Dutch fashion designer, Iris van Herpen is one of a kind. With her technologically informed works, she stays ahead of the game with a futuristic interpretation of architecture-inspired silhouettes and compositions made out of filament-thin geodesic rosettes. It may take a while to really appreciate her couture. But between 3-D printed heels to bubble-like exoskeletons, a thought arises: what is the 33-year-old designer thinking when she decided to put together a show that fascinates with an ethereal collection yet surprises with a ghostly spectacle? WORDS MARTIN TEO / PORTRAIT JEAN BAPTISTE MONDINO / MOLLY SJ LOWE & MORGAN O’DONOVAN


The water tanks are filled to the brim. Underwater musicians, submerged entirely, move fluidly with the water as tunes begin to rise to a harmonious crescendo. Like a furious creature underwater, the lead singer delivers a subdued howl; what the designer describes as “liquid voices and subsonic darkness.” “Their work transcends and transforms the conventional and natural relationship between our bodies and the elements. It motivated me to dive into the contrasts between water and air, between outside and inside, between lightness and darkness,” confides van Herpen. Her magnificently choreographed show is paired with an über chic collection. In her show, it is literally impossible to peel your eyes off each outfit. Each look has a certain something, emanating a unique allure. Since the young age of 12, van

Herpen has experimented with her own identity by making garments by hand. “At that time, I didn’t have the knowledge of patternmaking or even a sewing machine. I needed a huge amount of patience (and time), stitching every seam by hand. Time began to slow down when you stitch by hand, as it required precision. It felt meditative and I realised that I could think more creatively,” she reminisces. As time moves faster and the impulsive nuances cause distractions in daily lives, van Herpen realises the importance of slowing down. Post fashion school and dozens of fashion shows later, she still considers the process of handcrafting an important aspect in her design process.

1. Model Soo Joo Park wearing one of van Herpen’s shimmering designs 2. Paper thin rosettes create a beautiful silhouette in van Herpen’scollection

What inspires your passion for fashion? If I were to use one word to describe my work, it

2 would be “movement” as one of the most influential things in my life has been my classical ballet practice. Those years of dancing taught me so much about my body, the transformation of movement, the evolution of shape, and how to manipulate both shape and movement. Those years were the basis of my interest in fashion, so that i am now able to transform this kinaesthetic knowledge into new shapes and materiality. You have collaborated with some of the best people in the industry including artists and architects like Rem Koolhaas, Philip Beesley and Jolan van der Wiel. These collaborations have defined your work in a way or another, adding new perspectives to your silhouettes. Learning from these collaborations, what drives you to continue creating more cuttingedge and remarkable designs? The art of fashion is the place where innovation and craft are perfected to reach the finest possible level, which is possible through collaboration. My work embodies exactly the opposite of what fashion generally is today. I go back to forgotten craftsmanship and the love of handwork. At the same time, I’m embedding new technology-driven methods and collaborations with artists, architects and scientists. I intentionally stretch the edges of my medium. Some collaborative partnerships are like extensions of my atelier and they take me out of my own bubble of knowledge and experience, creating a kind of collective intelligence.




THE TIMEKEEPER The name Bell & Ross has always been associated with aeronautics, car racing and flight dashboards. Founded in 1992 by French and Swiss designer Bruno Belamich and businessman Carlos Rosillo, the brand’s signature square case and large Roman numerals are instantly recognised. Their watches have been highly favoured by numerous architects and design professionals across the globe due to its unique designs and spot-on precision. WORDS MARTIN TEO / IMAGES BELL & ROSS


the highest precision, but as humans, we are not machines. But the fact that the watch can achieve unbelievable precision from pure mechanics is certainly impressive.

A morning conversation with Bell & Ross Creative Director, Bruno Belamich and Jean-Paul Suchel, Technical and Production Director in their Paris headquarters gives me a whole new perspective on the movement that powers the heart of the watch. Bruno explains the countless layers of details that go into the making of a watch as he points to a pair on his wrist as his right hand man, Jean-Paul chuckles. “The entire design and development process of a watch, like the BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor in particular, took many months to complete,” reveals Jean-Paul. “Just like the newly launched Bell & Ross Vintage Bellytanker and Aeronavale collection, we take our time in perfecting each timepiece together with Bruno and our artisans.” As our conversation ensues, we find out from Jean-Paul what it takes to be a successful watchmaker. What got you into the world of watches? Interestingly enough, none of my family was involved in the watch business. I had some interest in watches through photos and in small-size high precision mechanisms. Watches have their own spirit, details and some form of perfection that I find interesting. The quest for time is a philosophical one for humans. We can’t control time and as soon as we speak of the present, it has already passed. Time is always too fast or too slow. The fact that we can’t actually control it makes it really fascinating for me. So, to be involved in a product that measures time is something I find very interesting. Why do you consider the watch an important accessory for human beings? There are different reasons for this. Firstly, the watch is worn directly on your skin; so there’s a physical contact with the watch all the time. Secondly, it’s worn equally by both men and women. Thirdly, I think there’s a link between man and life. We question time, always, and sometimes it flies too fast or passes too slow. On a more technical side, we also look for

In the context of watch design, how do you express concepts and ideas while continuously redefining the aesthetics of watches? In Bell & Ross, the founder Bruno is always thinking. He takes his inspiration mostly from aeronautics, the aircraft’s profile and instruments. He is constantly in touch with the people and he also has a good feel and nose for finances. Bruno has a team and a product designer he works very closely with and they experiment on Bruno’s ideas. We do a lot together from coming out with sketches to making sense out of a design proposition. Bruno is someone who would follow a few routes at one time; never, just one. Every Monday, we would have a meeting with Bruno as the lead of product design. We would talk for hours on what’s going on in different markets and the different notions of combining ideas and commerciality. We give an extremely high importance to details. For example, if we want a chronograph with a blue dial; is the blue matte or shiny? We discuss textures, depths, colour and make many prototypes to justify each hypothesis. And everyone from marketing to operations will give their input. From your experience, what does it take to become a successful watchmaker? You need to have rigour. It’s a job of details and emotional feeling. You have to be soft with the tools and having some sort of a perfectionist trait would help. If you’ve visited a watchmaker’s workshop, you’ll find how remarkably quiet it is. It’s very clean with no dust. Dust is the main enemy of watches; do you know that? How long does it take to put the pieces together for a watch like the BR X2 Tourbillon Micro-Rotor? (Chuckles) It really depends on the watch. In the watch industry, there are many companies specialising in different areas – some producing watch hands and some just dials or cases. Just for the case alone, the industry is broken down to companies that are specialised in steel, titanium and sapphire. It’s very complicated and unique. It takes about 80 to 100 hours to make a watch with basic specifications. Some may take 10 to 12 working days depending on its complexity. The BRX2 takes much longer because it’s very delicate and requires a lot more work on its movement. There are details in every layer of the watch, so you can envision each step being so precise and detailed.


What are the biggest challenges for the work you’re doing and for the brand? For Bell & Ross, the challenge is to constantly be enriched with ideas and creativity without losing the brand’s identity. We have to consider that Bruno comes out with new ideas each time to fit within the frame of our identity. It’s really not easy. After so many years, the identity of Bell & Ross is clear. When you put two watches next to each other, you can tell it comes from the same place at a glance. For me, I find the biggest challenge to be developing Bruno’s ideas correctly in spite of worldly limitations. Some ideas are great but may not be practical to execute. Like when we first wanted to do a sapphire watch two years ago, it was a real challenge but we persevered. The entire process took a lot of convincing, trials and errors before we were assured of its realisation. Very few brands have succeeded in sapphire watches. And we are one of them. Bell & Ross watches are highly appreciated by architects and designers. Why is that so? Bruno loves architecture and the Bauhaus. The spirit of Bell & Ross is that we don’t like to overwhelm the watch with details but focus on the functionality. Since the watch is a three-dimensional object, you can see the link between architecture and watch design through pure lines. These lines are what Bruno likes about architecture and he implements them into the watches. Emotionally, what you see when you build a house is its strong foundation. It has to last and resist forces of nature; and people have to feel comfortable living in it. All these are present in architecture and it’s what Bruno considers important when he designs a watch. The user, economics and shape is important; the watch doesn’t just tell time. Basically, the design ethos is very similar to that of architecture? You can say so indirectly. The engine of the watch, the movement and the common function make the instrument. But what is around the instrument is what gives perception to the shape, volume and balance while accommodating to movement. All the little details are similar to architecture. We want a spirit of balance, or being stretched. These can all be achieved by the way we create the lines.


COLOUR COLLISION The chase in fashion doesn’t stop at just well-cut pants or an extravagant couture dress. It is in the art of collaboration that designers find the equilibrium between two almost contrasting principles. Malaysian fashion designer Cassey Gan teams up with upcoming visual artist Mark Tan in their latest collection – demonstrating how fashion and the arts can work in beautiful harmony. WORDS MARTIN TEO / PHOTOGRAPHY HEARTPATRICK


What’s the idea behind the collection? Cassey: The Series 10 Collection is centred around the idea of memories. Mark: Memory acts as the main theme of my work and what I do. Monochrome inherently has nostalgic elements; when you see films and you see things in black and white. Different people have a different approach to that but all are made out of memories. Cassey: Some fond moments of my life include being in a marching band in school. I loved music and was learning how to play the trumpet. I remembered the costumes that we wore and used that as my inspiration as well.

Prints. They are all over. Colours. Splattered in artistic ways across the workroom. In her head, she pictures an explosion of structured patterns in vibrant tones. In his mind, he imagines in black and white. In that antagonistic chaos, they find a meeting point. The balance between two contrasting elements that revolve around “memories” becomes the anchor to this figurative collection. Cassey Gan is no ordinary designer. She completed her studies in engineering before enrolling in fashion school in London. It was there that she grew to love colours and prints, exploring designs in multitudes of vibrant mishmashes. While in fashion school, she shares: “I had always wanted to be a monochrome designer. But later, my teacher encouraged me to try colours. I took inspiration from Jim Osman, whose works are a mixture of colours that are done subtly through stacks of wood blocks.” Mark Tan graduated from the University of the West of England in Bristol where he studied Drawing and Applied Arts, majoring in printmaking. “We learnt different crafts from etching to more modern techniques like silk screen and digital printing,” says Tan. The duo believes that the way they learned things in the UK has helped encourage and nurture their individual creativity. Because it is very experimental, designers find it easier to discover a voice. “When I first visited his solo exhibition in Zhongshan Building earlier this year, I thought his works were interesting and would work with the collection. His stuff is very monochromatic and I’m very colourful. I’ve got to admit that it is a bit of a clash,” confides Gan. Harnessing the uniqueness of Tan’s prints, Gan transports the monochromes into her colourful composition. While her aesthetics remain, Gan maintains Tan’s prints tastefully. Within this unexpected collaboration, a conversation ensues.

Mark: Like life, there is repetition and layering. My prints are made out of a repetition of square blocks. Similar to life’s daily routine, there are different challenges and stuff going on every day. Every day beckons with something new and it is always different. I try to translate that through the values and intensity of my prints.


Collaborations lend an exciting energy to the creative industry. Why are you such a supporter of collaborations? Cassey: I like working with people. Ideas can be the same if you work alone. When we discuss our inspirations, ideas and concepts, we tend to see things differently and that inspires me further; making our day-to-day job more interesting. Mark: Similarly, my approaches to collaboration centre around working with people. Collaboration is about learning new things together while creating a new silhouette. Prints are always two-dimensional and this is the opportunity for my prints to be transformed into a three-dimensional work. How do you find the balance and the synergy while working together? Cassey: When two people work together, no matter how similar they are, there will be differences. You need to work along these differences. It was very clear for me that I don’t want to change his prints. I want to stay true to both his aesthetics and mine.


PUTTING PLEASURE TO LIVING GROHE is a global brand dedicated to providing innovative water products that delight customers and exceed expectations. The four brand values of quality, technology, design and sustainability illustrate their commitment to creating exceptional experiences for homeowners and design professionals.

GROHE Sensia Arena


The four values constitute the driving force behind GROHE’s slogan, ‘Pure Freude an Wasser’ which translates from the company’s native German into ‘Pure Joy of Water’. The global brand is progressive in providing ‘end-to-end’ technology, product development and as a purveyor of innovation and product excellence. Since its first international expansion in 1961, GROHE continues to grow globally as a worldrenowned leading sanitary ware manufacturer. In 2011, the brand launched GROHE Spa and in the same year, they received the Red Dot Design Award for Design Team of the Year. GROHE became part of the Lixil Group, Japan’s largest housing and building materials manufacturing company in 2014. In 2016, the GROHE Sensia Arena was introduced to the market. The new and revolutionary bathroom concept encapsulates the essence of German technology and Japanese sensibility. It is the latest generation of shower toilets that are designed to maximise personal comfort, achieve perfect skin care and ultimate hygiene through gentle and smart cleansing. GROHE has also launched its SPA Colours, available in three design lines and ten combinations of colours and finishes. From faucets to showers and accessories, GROHE SPA Colours provides homeowners and designers the Freedom of Choice when designing their ideal bathroom.


CORE BRAND VALUES Each GROHE product is based on the four brand values – sustainability, design, quality and technology. In the context of sustainability, the brand has developed smart water-saving products that use less water but do not reduce the enjoyment of the experience. GROHE EcoJoy faucets, for example, use a flow-limiting mousseur to reduce water consumption from ten litres per minute to just over five litres, but an aerator ensures the same voluminous flow as provided by a regular faucet. The German perfectionism has also inspired ultimate customer confidence through excellence that stretches beyond the surface of their products. GROHE products are engineered with advanced craftsmanship that are combined with effective teamwork and processes. Rigorous internal tests and external certifications are carried out, including global quality standards certifications (ISO 9001) to ensure product excellence.

For decades, GROHE experts strive for outstanding technology-driven innovation through strong investment in research and development. In 2016, the brand was awarded Innovator of the Year 2016 by brand eins Wissen and Statista. GROHE is always at the forefront of advancing water technology. Technology-driven solutions including GROHE SilkMove (that offers smoothest handling for effortless precision and ultimate comfort for a lifetime) and GROHE TurboStat (that provides the right temperature for ultimate convenience and safety) are dedicated to bettering the lives of consumers. The future of technology is already transforming the home into something smarter and more personalised. Over the years, GROHE has been honoured with over 270 international design awards. GROHE is at the heart of this changing global landscape as the brand continues to redefine new standards of living. The new GROHE Flagship Store will be opening soon at Shaw Centre, Singapore in the first quarter of 2018. www.grohe.sg


1. Michael Seum, GROHE’s Vice President of Design 2. Clean lines of GROHE’s Essence range lend a touch of understated elegance to any master bathroom 3. AquaSymphony by GROHE combines water, light and sound to deliver the ultimate shower experience




MAKING KITCHENS WONDERFUL From its humble beginnings in the homeland of design legends like Le Corbusier, Herzog & de Meuron and Paul Klee, Swiss brand Franke has built its reputation as the world leader in stainless steel sinks over the last century. Highly regarded with a pioneering spirit, Franke believes that the kitchen is the heart of the home and a place where timeless memories are created.


1. Whether you use it mainly for washing, cutting, dividing or preparation, you can turn your sink into a chef center anytime with innovative kitchen accessories by Franke. 2. Discover the Elegance Collection in six collections that come in 100,000 options. They reflect the latest kitchen trends and perfectly meet many different expectations, all in their own inimitable way.


With a keen eye for details, perfection and high quality, Franke consistently sets new standards in the kitchen while inspiring people worldwide. The company’s products and services represent over a century of experience and expertise. Franke understands the needs of customers and the importance of creating a holistic experience in the heart of the home – the kitchen. The brand wants to put kitchen back in the centre of everyday life. Committed to make the entire experience wonderfully easy; Franke also wants to provide the best products for customers. As the pioneer of product innovation since 1911, Franke continues to propose the most fitted solutions to meet today’s expectations and cooking behaviours. Franke believes that the kitchen is a place to express personal style. Over the years, the brand has worked with design professionals and homeowners to realise its integrated modular kitchen systems. The system includes sinks, taps and built-in appliances that are the most visible elements in the kitchen. They strongly believe that they are the only purveyor in kitchen systems that represent the future of our residential kitchens.


Every Franke product aims to be wonderful in every possible way. From the first glimpse or carefully considered design, to manufacturing standards, the brand ensures that customers can feel the quality and craftsmanship of every piece. In Franke, a comprehensive range of sinks, taps, hobs, decorative and performance hoods, kitchen appliances and accessories can help make an everyday kitchen extraordinary and turn a daily chore into an outright pleasure. INTEGRATED INNOVATION Frames by Franke is a modular system consisting of elements that are designed to work together and can be freely combined according to preferences and needs. It is the first product line on the market to combine all key elements of food preparation in an intelligent system. These outstanding kitchen appliances feature innovative technology and are highly efficient. The kitchen range offers unique day-to-night functions and is there for its owner around the clock.


Franke has invested in a great deal of time and effort into researching and developing the workflow in the kitchen. What has now emerged is a kitchen system where each element, fixture and accessory work harmoniously as a whole set. It is a modular system with more than 100,000 possible options to choose from. From hoods to hobs and sinks to taps, the extensive collection allows customers to pick and choose the right components in the integral system to create the perfect kitchen that combines functionality and style. Offering a multitude of possibilities, Frames by Franke offers an initial three inspirational collections: Essence, Passion and Style. Over the years, a total of six collections have been introduced to customers around the world. Reflecting the latest kitchen trends and perfectly meeting the different expectations of every user, Franke wants to ensure that each modern kitchen is inimitable in its own way. As the leader in stainless steel sink manufacturing, the brand’s proximity to strong market intelligence provides a thorough understanding on the trends of tomorrow. This is made possible through the Think Next By Franke leadership event that will introduce new ideas about the way of life, future of food, technology and design trends. Staying true to its Swiss-based tradition, Franke keeps moving forward to fulfill their brand promise “Make it Wonderful”. Franke, who has consistently garnered Red Dot awards over the years for design and innovation, is committed to its heritage of combining quality, design, innovation and functionality. That’s why the company continues to devote all its resources into creating products that will make kitchens around the world wonderful. www.franke.com.sg fb/frankekitchensingapore ig/franke.singapore


INNOVATING SURFACES THAT LAST In 1913, founders Herbert A. Faber and Daniel J. O’Conor made a discovery that high pressure and plastic resins could be used to manufacture and improve electrical parts being made from the mineral mica. Thus, they invented laminate and coined the name “Formica”. They started a small manufactory in Cincinnati, Ohio and called it the “Formica Insulation Company”. The rest, as they say, is history.




Formica Corporation, under its British licensee De La Rue, entered the Indian market in a joint venture with the Bombay Burmah Trading Company in 1965. Its first Asian plant was opened in Taiwan 15 years later. The turning point for the company was in 1982 when the brand’s signature ColorCore laminate was introduced. ColorCore is an innovating surfacing material that maintains its hue in depth and omits the brown line and edge of earlier products, making the company’s products even more attractive. Formica Corporation continued to organise a travelling exhibition of pieces in ColorCore laminate that brought together work by architects Robert Venturi, Frank Gehry, Stanley Tigerman, James Wines of SITE, Massimo Vignelli and others. By doing so, the company aimed to show that laminate should no longer be considered a faux material but celebrated on its own terms. In 1990s, Formica Corporation was established in Singapore (1992) and branched out to other Asian countries including Malaysia, China and Korea. A decade ago in 2007, all the Formica Group divisions of Asia, Europe and North America were acquired fully by Fletcher Building Ltd, industry leader for laminates in Australia.

2013 was the year Formica celebrated its 100th Anniversary. In the same year, the group was awarded with the Red Dot award: Product Design 2013 for the new avant-garde texture Plex from the DecoMetal which is part of its range of High Pressure Laminate; recognising innovation and appeal. Formica Group continued to develop new innovative solutions for the market with its first hygienic collection, Protec+ in 2014. The range comprises high performance premium laminate product with an additional layer of hygienic protection to any environment through the utilisation of antimicrobial properties of silver (Ag+). This year, the group was awarded the Red Dot award: Product Design 2017 for Reclaim Denim Fibre from the Formica Laminate collection. As an echo to the sustainable sensibility in today’s design context, Formica Group is inspired by a global interest in denim and how to recycle blue jeans. The company was motivated to create a new kind of industrial paper using real reclaimed denim fibre from cloth production mills. The by-product – Reclaimed Denim Fibre – features 60 per cent post-industrial denim fibre.



The group was also awarded another Red Dot award: Product Design 2017 for Formica Infiniti™. Using a patent pending technology to create a durable laminate with anti-fingerprint and anti-marking features. Formica Group is committed to making sustainable principles and practices a part of everything they do. Driven by new challenges and delivering constant innovation, Formica is an iconic brand that has developed an unrivalled expertise that ensures products are fit for their purposes and meet market demands. Working closely with the industry’s best, the company is ideally placed to offer new products and features that complement current design trends and has an on-going product design and development process for everything. Formica Asia will be bringing new innovation and excitement during its new launch in November 2017. www.formica.com

1. Peter Eisenman’s work using Formica Laminate at FORM: Contemporary Architects at Play, 2008 2. Founder and Inventor of Formica Laminate, Daniel J. O’Conor 3. Founder and Inventor of Formica Laminate, Herbert A. Faber 4. Zaha Hadid’s work using Formica Laminate at FORM: Contemporary Architects at Play, 2008 5. A model home kitchen of the late 1950s featuring Formica Laminate. From Formica & Design: From the Counter Top to High Art, by Susan Grant Lewin (1991)





IN THE BOX Straying far away from the ordinary, this quaint little house in the suburbs of Singapore is a box full of surprises. WORDS JADE ANG PHOTOGRAPHY MING ARCHITECTS



1. Resembling a cluster of irregularly stacked white boxes, this house is so much more than meets the eye



esidential landscapes are often dotted with houses that look similar to each other, almost as if they were produced from a single template with slight variations. Picture yourself taking a stroll down a street in a suburban neighbourhood; clear blue skies overhead and birds chirping in the distance, cookie-cutter houses all in a row. That is, until you come across this particular house in a Singaporean suburb. Featuring a staggered layered structure, it is almost as if the house is silently challenging the very idea of what is considered normal. OUT OF THE ORDINARY Breaking away from the lack of diversity, Box House is like a breath of fresh air in a closed room with its outstanding yet understated appearance. The rich brown hue of the wooden gate pops beautifully against the crisp white walls of the perimeter fencing. Its unique faรงade makes it looks like a cluster of irregularly stacked white boxes, which will definitely cause some heads to turn, as it is just downright unconventional.



2. Pockets of green are ingeniously incorporated into the house, blurring the line between the indoors and outdoors

Featuring a predominantly white palette, wood is one of the thematic constants that is established right at the entry and weaves its way all the way throughout the rest of the house. Starting right at the porch, the wood element begins with the solid wood main door, extending all the way to the ceiling of the porch and easing surreptitiously to the side in the form of a slatted chengal wood screen that covers the full-length glass windows. As handsome as it is functional, this screen that is applied to quite a number of glass doors and windows provides privacy for the occupants without sacrificing light and views. Thinking out of the box, some of the windows and doors with no screens are instead framed by a steel canopy box with the same Chengal timber cladding – shading the rooms from the glaring sun. Fabricated from the same type of wood as the screens, this option flows much better with the theme of the house and is definitely more aesthetically pleasing compared to traditional awnings.


Less truly is more. This is clearly seen in the clean and simple layout which maximises the light that infuses the entire house. With ample windows and glass doors throughout, a sense of openness is created, as the rooms are flooded with plenty of natural light. Paired with the generous use of white, the house appears large and airy with minimal effort. Streamlined and neat, the open kitchen also utilises long lines to create depth, making the space appear more extensive. A sleek white island in the heart of the space provides additional storage, workspace as well as a welcome break from the dark woods of the cabinetry. This darker tone is a variation to the warm brown hues from the chengal featured in the exterior, a move perhaps to differentiate the two as we see this trend extended to the cabinetry in the master bathroom, wardrobe and even the feature wall, albeit in a slightly different hue. Leading into the family room, which opens out into the pool,







ELEMENTARY, MY DEAR Gulla Jónsdóttir taps her Icelandic roots for a sensually raw approach to glamour at the Macau Roosevelt WORDS REBECCA LO / PHOTOGRAPHY ELLY PULEIO

1. The reception of the Macau Roosevelt features an undulating backdrop of polished black stone in front of a curving bronze counter; a green garden meanders above and continues up the double storey ceiling 2. Seen from below, the garden snaking across the ceiling is a play on perspective, giving guests the feeling of being enveloped by nature


acau’s hotel development in the past decade has depended on Mainland Chinese tourists and expectations of gaming revenue. Yet Mainland Chinese, like people everywhere, do not all want the same thing. Owner Yoho Group and operator Gaw Capital Partners Hospitality understand that some visitors are seeking more lifestyle-oriented accommodations to go with their roulette. And what better lifestyle aspiration than the nostalgia associated with the golden age of Hollywood? To that end, they sought the talents of Los Angeles-based Gulla Jónsdóttir Architecture + Design to make their star-dusted dreams come true. LA LA LAND GLAM A native of Iceland, Jónsdóttir studied architecture in the States and has remained there ever since, working for the likes of


American architect Richard Meier, Walt Disney Imagineering and acclaimed interior designer Dodd Mitchell before establishing her own studio. Her portfolio includes a yearlong stay at the original Hollywood Roosevelt while upgrading the 1927 Art Deco legend’s public spaces and swimming pool. With its colourful past as the host of the first Academy Awards, its penthouse as the venue of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard’s torrid affair, and its poolside where Marilyn Monroe’s modelling career first launched, there was a lot of pressure to get things right. Jónsdóttir succeeded in spectacular fashion, and managed to capture the glamour while leaving her own oeuvre imprinted through its design. “Macau Roosevelt is Mike’s (Lam, managing director of Yoho) first hotel venture,” she reveals. “Five years ago, he asked me if I wanted to design the Roosevelt in Macau. I said ‘sure’: I was very excited to go to Macau.”

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Situated off Cotai Strip at the west end of Macau Jockey Club with views across the river towards Henqin in China and directly into the race course, the Macau Roosevelt offers 368 guestrooms and suites, including the Marilyn penthouse with a private deck and outdoor bathtub that the late screen goddess herself would certainly have taken advantage of. Rooms are sumptuous, with lavish use of materials such as white oak, bronze and stone in unexpected ways. Organic patterns akin to inkblots dominate feature walls in bathrooms, with polished and raw stone meeting through bevelled edges to provide layered three-dimensional effects. “One of our design signatures is creating drama by juxtaposing two very different elements, just like in the natural world,” elaborates Jónsdóttir. “The light – the dark; masculine – feminine; rough – smooth. We applied a similar design strategy in the bathroom, bringing the rough – pure natural elements and

juxtaposed it with the smooth – polished material so the user will feel as if he is bathing in nature with comfort but within the luxury of the hotel.” CURVES AHEAD Jónsdóttir readily admits that her aesthetic often employs sensual curves and voluptuous forms. This can be seen in details such as bronze door pulls mimicked by wall sconces on private balconies with glass balustrades. “When we first saw this wall sconce, it reminded us of lotus leaves overlapping on ponds in a more abstracted, angular form,” she notes. “Chinese language and culture revolve around symbolism. We saw that the lotus has a significant meaning and mythical beliefs rooted in Chinese culture. This beautiful, delicate flower has purity, which we translated into our design throughout the rooms. It almost creates a poem: the lotus is blown by the


Gulla Jónsdóttir, Architect, Gulla Jónsdóttir Architecture and Design

“It almost creates a poem: the lotus is blown by the wind at the headboard bronze wall, and carried through the space in the form of petals at the entry door.”

3. Casa Roosevelt features several outdoor swimming pools that echo the curvilinear lines of interior spaces 4. Taking advantage of the 270 degree views above western Taipa, a corner suite includes a wrap-around daybed that morphs into a desk 5. A studio guestroom includes a stand-alone king-size bed oriented towards the view and a bronze entry door that juxtaposes the dark timber used throughout the space




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6. The lotus flower appears as laser etched abstracted petals on walls and sconces, transforming the vertical surface into a visual feature 7. Egg-shaped freestanding bathtubs stand out against polished and rough stone clad bathroom walls, lending the space a raw elegance 8. Casa Roosevelt’s all-day dining restaurant includes black leather chairs with bronze nail heads as glamorous flourishes to the multifunctional space


wind at the headboard bronze wall, and carried through the space in the form of petals at the entry door. The flower is also carved into the tiles around the pools as blossoms emerging from the pond.” CRAFTY NOTIONS Similar to the laidback California lifestyle of poolside lounging that evolve into parties with a splash of sophistication when the sun sets, Jónsdóttir imbued the third level of the Casa Roosevelt with a strong personality. The complex includes an all-day dining restaurant with an extensive outdoor patio for al fresco dining, a private wine lounge, bar, and fitness centre that leads out to three connected outdoor pools and a Tropicana Suite, the latter for a private poolside experience. “We applied Macau’s Portuguese patterns inlaid in the first floor lobby flooring as well as the flooring of Casa Roosevelt,”


reveals Jónsdóttir. “We wanted to celebrate Macau’s culture and history through architectural materials. The inlay process is an old handcrafted technique that we thought befitting. I am very happy with the excellent craftsmanship throughout the property, seen in the inlays, chipped marble and curved walls – something that many other contractors cannot do. Although I wasn’t based in Macau during the construction, we provided very detailed drawings and our contractor asked a lot of questions, to ensure that it was all done properly.” Perhaps the Macau Roosevelt’s most striking feature is the green wall in the lobby. Revealed as a sliver behind the reception counter, it expands as it moves upwards, becoming a garden as it meanders across the ceiling. “I am very inspired by nature, and the wavy concrete ceiling with bronze columns and vertical gardens help give the property a resort feeling,” Jónsdóttir muses. Clark Gable himself would most definitely approve.


RAINBOW BOOKSTORE With a vivid and psychedelic use of colour, the newest Zhongshu Bookstore allows visitors to interact with each other and the space itself. WORDS ANEETA SUNDARARAJ PHOTOGRAPHY HU YIJIE & CREATAR (AI MING, MAO YINGCHEN, SHI KAICHEN)



lose your eyes. When I say the word “bookstore”, what image does your mind conjure? Is it a storehouse of knowledge within a cathedral-like structure? Are there rows and rows of books? Is the lighting so muted that it’s dark and unwelcoming? With all manner of electronic gadgets at your disposal, do you wonder if you’ll ever read a book in such a place? Well, this isn’t the case with Zhongshu Bookstore in Suzhou, China. It is quite simply a vibrant and stylish bookshop. Designed by Chinese architect, Yu Ting from Wutopia Lab, there is an air of fantasy about the bookstore which provides an instant break from what can be a daily reality that is often confusing and ugly. Completed in July 2017, this bookstore is the newest one of its brand since the first one opened five years ago.






1. The profusion of colours inside the Zhongshu Bookstore seen from the outside 2. Multiple panels of perforated aluminium evoke the sense of being within a cocoon or behind a veil 3. A quiet corner in the Main Hall to read a book

The starting point for Yu Ting’s creative process is Shanghai’s culture and lifestyle. He then uses architecture as a tool to promote sociological progress within his building practice. The eventual creation often blends the boundaries between functional architecture and art installation. The Zhongshu Bookstore in Suzhou, says Yu Ting, is meant to be a welcoming space for patrons to while away their time. Key design elements he uses include colour and the ability of patrons to the library to interact with both each other and the space itself. Based on all this, the resulting space of the bookstore has been described as though one is “walking into a world of flamboyant psychedelia”. Indeed, so intense is the profusion of colour that many on social media are dubbing Zhongshu Bookstore in Suzhou as the “metal rainbow bookstore”.


SUSPENDING EXPECTATION The trick to properly appreciating this space is to temporarily suspend all expectations of what a library should be. Instead, immerse yourself in the four divided spaces of this library, with the first being a distinguished entrance called The Sanctuary of Crystal. The space gets its name from the mirrored glass bricks lining its walls. Filled with books and nothing else, this shining white space has pre-fabricated transparent acrylic shelves which hang from the ceiling. On these shelves are placed the newest arrivals in the store. With such a minimalist design, your attention is focused only on the books. From the blinding whiteness of The Sanctuary of Crystal, the next space is an absolute contrast. The Cave of Fireflies is a dark tunnel filled with luminescent optical fibres that has the



bookstore’s bestsellers. Its dim atmosphere, says the designer, is aimed at pushing readers to pick up their books and move to the next room to enjoy reading them. What follows is the main reading area called Xanadu of Rainbows. A large and open space, it is bathed in natural light through the large windows. There is no need to stick with reading at a table. Instead, bury your nose in a book in one of the many nooks and crannies in the space. Go ahead. Take advantage of different heights of shelves, steps, and tables in this “abstracted landscape of cliffs, valleys, islands, rapids, and oases”. The core of the bookstore lies at the end of the Xanadu of Rainbows and is called the Castle of Innocence. After the burst of colour, this area is reserved for children’s books and the white ETFE walls here are a welcome sight.





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