I N T E R I O R S
#80 | JUNE | JULY | 2016
A R C H I T E C T U R E
D E S I G N
IPLI ARCHITECTS HUMANISE INDUSTRY
MILAN DESIGN WEEK | CSYA | JAIME HAYON | AESOP STORES BY RUSSELL & GEORGE KATAMAMA BY ANDRA MATIN, TAKENOUCHI WEBB AND PTT FAMILY | SINGAPORE DESIGN WEEK
CHECKLIST | PRODUCTS
Designed by Jasper Morrison for Japanese furniture maker Maruni, the T series of chairs and stools is the product of 3D wood-machining technology. T features a solid maple seat, legs and backrest with a clear varnish. A strip of powercoated steel (available in black, green or red) connects the seat to the backrest, providing a degree of movement that enhances comfort, as well as a colour accent. T is available in two stool heights in addition to the chair configuration.
Inspired by an image of a farmer seated on a jute sack, Japanese designer Kensaku Oshiro created the easychair Graphy for Gandiablasco’s indoor brand GAN. The chair was conceived as a piece on which to spend long hours relaxing. It comprises three volumes filled with polystyrene balls that will adapt to the movement of the body. The upholstery is available in canvas or velvet (both made of 100% cotton) and in five colours.
Created by Danish design studio GamFratesi, the Targa sofa collection combines a bent-wood structure with the comfort of upholstered furniture and woven cane, creating an elegant meeting of materials. The aesthetic is similar to that of the sofa’s namesake – the targa top of a semi-convertible car. This year, Gebrüder Thonet Vienna (GTV) expanded the Targa family by adding a two-metre long sofa and footstool to the collection.
Glas Italia’s 2016 Salone del Mobile presentation was based on the theme of ‘Illusion’, which translated to a visually striking collection that played with the senses. One of the new pieces shown was the Layers bookshelf designed by Nendo, which features overlapping sliding panels of coloured glass suspended from its top. The panels partially obscure the shelves’ contents in an ever-changing colour composition. Layers is available in two sizes and two colour themes – warm (orange, red, brown) and cool (blue, grey, violet).
p 5. c o m . s g
gl asitalia.com dream.com.sg
CHECKLIST | PRODUCTS
Past and Future
Return to Nature
Spelled in Lights
Designed by Cassina’s newly appointed Art Director Patricia Urquiola, the Gender armchair is made up of two formally independent parts: the enveloping structural exterior, and the soft, cushioned interior. Gender can be subdued or bold, strong or delicate, feminine or masculine depending on the combination and contrast of the chosen materials. The cocooning backrest can tilt up to 15 degrees and spring back into position. Available in five standard colour combinations with an optional pouf.
Showcased at the magnificent Palazzo Serbelloni in Milan, Lasvit’s ‘Via Lucis’ presentation took the theme of blending the classic and the contemporary. This was especially apparent in the Ludwig chandelier designed by Parisian hautecouturier Maurizio Galante. Inspired by the chandelier in the Neuschwanstein castle built for King Ludwig II of Bavaria, Ludwig reinterprets classic chandelier proportions with industrial glass tubes to a breathtaking and striking effect.
Ton has launched Leaf – a new collection by Florence-based multidisciplinary studio E-ggs. Taking inspiration from how the sturdiness of a tree ends with delicate leaves, the collection features a solid-wood base structure (formed using a time-consuming manual bending technique) and a moulded plywood seat that gives it a sense of lightness. The Leaf barstool pictured here is offered in two heights and an upholstered variant.
Artemide has collaborated with Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) for Alphabet of Light. A quite literal exploration of the language of light, the collection comprises lighting modules, both in straight and curved formats, with precise geometric proportions that can be used to build virtually any light design. The modules are linked with concealed electromagnetic joints that cast no shadows or show any discontinuities. Power can be conveyed between modules up to a maximum of almost five metres.
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CHECKLIST | PRODUCTS
Designed by Umberto Asnago for Porada, the Ops 2 mirror features an irregular geometric shape framed by Canaletta walnut with paler natural maple wood inserts at its corners. Ops 2 also features a handy built-in shelf and is offered with two types of mirror – smoked mirror on the bottom and clear mirror on the upper part. The mirror is wall-mounted and measures two metres at its tallest part and 1.44 metres at its widest.
The Pli Side Table by French designer Victoria Wilmotte features a faceted stainless steel base that creates a play of colour and reflections in the room, making it appear like a slab of precious stone. The high-gloss polished stainless steel sheets used for the base are treated to yield a colourful shimmer in green, blue, bronze or black. The top is a glass panel, its underside being colour-lacquered to match the base.
Named after the formal dining table Kartell has launched Kartell Kids – a new used by ancient Romans, Triclinium line of furniture for children aged three celebrates the sofa as the centre of to eight. Designed by Kartell’s all-star activities in our homes. Designed by collaborators, the collection comprises Swedish design studio Front, the sofa is existing Kartell products redesigned to described as a “transformable landscape suit children, as well as new products of upholstery” to live in. It can double specifically designed for them. One as a sofa bed, and it is also suitable for example of the latter is Airway – a use as an outdoor daybed thanks to transparent polycarbonate plastic swing the durable woven upholstery material. designed by Philippe Starck, who dubs it, Triclinium also comes with an optional “an invisible seat in your own airway to attached side table and a rug. reach heaven.” moroso.it kartell.com xtra.com.sg lifestorey.com spacefurniture.com.sg
CHECKLIST | PRODUCTS
At Your Service
Nathan Yong’s first collaboration with Gebrüder Thonet Vienna (GTV), Majordomo (maggiordomo translates from Italian to ‘butler’) is a multifunctional furniture piece designed to be entirely at your service. Majordomo is a chair and a coat hanger that also doubles as a handy clothes and footwear stand on which one can lean or sit when putting on one’s shoes. GTV is the latest European brand to be represented by Space Furniture in Asia.
Evoking the delicate corolla of a blooming flower with its outward-curving arms, Aida is a softer contemporary rendition of 1950s furniture. Designed by Roberto Lazzeroni, the chair is made using traditional production techniques. It is now offered in new materials: exterior upholstery in ‘Cuoio Saddle Extra’ leather, and ‘Pelle Frau’ leather or fabric in the interior. Aida is available in a fixed or revolving version.
Last year Moooi debuted the SpaceFrame – a suspension lamp designed by Marcel Wanders that features a matrix of thin metal wire with LED lights at the intersections. The metal grids are free from cables thanks to Moooi’s proprietary Electro Sandwich technology, which allows the LEDs to be powered directly through layers of conductive material within the frame. This year Wanders has expanded the collection with the Space-Frame floor lamp, supported by a thin wooden tripod.
p o lt r o n a f r a u . c o m gebruederthonetvienna.com spacefurniture.com.sg
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INNOVATION IN SIGHT WITH A NEW CONFERENCE PROGRAMME AND THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF A VISION FOR AN INNOVATION-DRIVEN ECONOMY BY 2025, SINGAPORE DESIGN WEEK 2016 WAS A TIME TO TAKE STOCK OF THE NATIONâ€™S DESIGN JOURNEY AND TO LOOK AHEAD.
Top: Lekker Architects designed a kaleidoscopic installation for EDL at SingaPlural, using projected images and reflective laminates. Image courtesy of SingaPlural
Bottom left: Design Trails participants trying out a press at one of the stops on a tour that emphasised thoughtfulness in design. Image courtesy of DesignSingapore Council
Bottom right: Terre designed the stand Framed at Maison & Objet Asia. It incorporated products from numerous brands and retailers. Image courtesy of M&O Asia/Amaranthine Photos
CHECKLIST | REVIEW
Te x t
» Narelle Yabuk a
I m a g e s
» Va r i o u s s o u r c e s a s s t a t e d
t was relatively recently – in 2003 – that the DesignSingapore Council was established, with the government’s Economic Review Committee having just identified the design sector as a new key area of economic growth. Come 2014, the National Design Centre was opened and Singapore Design Week was launched. And in 2015, just 12 years after the official support for the design sector was announced, Singapore was designated as a UNESCO Creative City of Design. Singapore, of course, is not a place for resting on one’s laurels. So Singapore Design Week (SDW) 2016 – the 13-day annual festival of exhibitions, talks, awards, launches and activities – was seen by the DesignSingapore Council as an opportune time to announce the government’s next design-related initiative. Design 2025 is essentially a master plan for the development of strategies that are envisioned to take Singapore’s design journey to the next level – to a stage when design thinking and processes are embedded in businesses and public life. It offers a vision of Singapore as a “thriving innovationdriven economy” and a “loveable city by design” where business will use design as a strategic tool to reinvent themselves and meet new challenges, and where residents and visitors will enjoy people-centred experiences. The Design 2025 report also envisions that by 2025, the community will actively participate in co-creating its living environments. With this vision in its sights, the Council’s outreach programmes take on critical importance. This year, for the first time, SDW introduced a signature event. The Innovation by Design Conference was held on 15 and 16 March at the National Library Building, and was organised into two ‘tracks’ – the ‘Design Track’, which featured award-winning Singapore designers, and the ‘Innovation Track’, at which leaders of successful designled local businesses shared their experiences. In his opening remarks,
Above: The Sit stool and table designed by Katarzyna Kempa was the grand winner of the Furniture Design Award at the International Furniture Fair Singapore. Image courtesy of IFFS
The DesignSingapore Council’s Executive Director Jeffrey Ho spelled out the difference between ‘design thinking’ (“what to design”) and the profession of design (“how to design”) – presumably for the benefit of non-design-professionals in the 600-strong audience. The two tracks were united each morning for a keynote speech from a world-renowned identity from the design-led business and design arenas: Masaaki Kanai (Chairman and Representative Director of Ryohin Keikaku Co., Ltd [Muji]) on day one, and Jaime Hayon (Founder, Hayon Studio) on day two. While the former discussed the Muji philosophy and the effects of globalisation on civilisation and culture, the latter focused on the notion of storytelling through creativity that transcends categorisation. Other programmes hosted by the DesignSingapore Council included a Design and Make Fair, a talk by celebrated Melbourne designers Hecker Guthrie, Design Trails, exhibitions and more. Like last year, innumerable other entities and brands also vied for attention during the festival period with their own activities, alongside the other signature events. Organised by the Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC), the SingaPlural festival returned to 99 Beach Road and recorded nearly 28,000 visitors (slightly fewer than last year’s reported 28,262) to its 71 installations and its symposiums. This year it adhered to the theme ‘Senses: the art and science of experiences’, and was curated by PLUS Collaboratives and GOVT. A more commercial flavor seemed evident this year, with over 20 brands exhibiting among more than 100 designers, often in collaboration. One such collaboration, which resulted in perhaps the most memorable installation, was between EDL and Lekker Architects – a kaleidoscopelike tunnel that reflected changing image projections on mirror-finish laminated surfaces.
The International Furniture Fair Singapore 2016/33rd ASEAN Furniture Show (IFFS/AFS), along with co-located events The Décor Show and furniPRO Asia, were again held at Singapore EXPO from 10 to 13 March, with 423 exhibiting companies from 29 countries. IFFS reports 20,343 unique visitors from 92 countries this year – an eight per cent increase in attendance. Chairman of IFFS Pte Ltd Ernie Koh claimed that this year’s show married the design and trade aspects of the furniture business. “In addition to being an ideal platform for striking deals and penetrating new markets, IFFS is now also the place to spot new design trends or to gain inspiration,” he said. Grand winner of the Furniture Design Award (FDA) at IFFS 2016, ECAL-trained Polish designer Katarzyna Kempa, commented that the fair was “far different than other European shows I’ve been to in terms of aesthetics, materials, and visitor interest.” Her winning design resulted from her master’s research into the best position in which to sit while working. She found that movement during working was critical, and her Sit stool and table encourages unconscious micro movements during sitting. She took home a prize of S$20,000 – double the value of last year’s prize. Maison & Objet Asia’s run at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre from 8 to 11 March focused on the hospitality sector. The show’s scale and reach was diminished in comparison to 2015. Last year, visitors numbered 11,601; this year, 7,179 visitors were recorded, but a higher proportion of them were interior designers – an increase of 11 per cent according to the organisers. Andre Fu was recognised as the ‘Designer of the Year’, and the ‘Rising Asian Talents’ for 2016 were LAB DE STU (Australia), Chihiro Tanaka (Japan), Stanley Ruiz (Philippines), Lekker Architects (Singapore), KIMU (Taiwan) and Ease Embroidery Design (Thailand).
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There were many innovative products to be found in the aisles of Maison & Objet Asia, some of them designed by Singapore’s leading designers (for example the Transition tiles by Lanzavecchia + Wai for Mirage and the Tropicals rugs by Outofstock for The Rug Maker). One stand remains etched in the memory for other reasons, however. A so-called ‘Mancave’ prickled at some female visitors with the inherent suggestion that space and products can be gendered. The experience of stopping in one’s tracks and contemplating whether or not one’s presence would be welcome within the stand was jolting. We will watch with interest in the coming years how the government’s Design 2025 vision of Singapore as a “thriving innovation-driven economy” is manifested in future editions of Singapore Design Week, and in everyday life.
de signsi ng a por e.org/sdw iffs.com.sg m a ison- objet.com singaplur al.com
THE STORYTELLING GENERATION NOW’S A GREAT TIME TO MIX DISCIPLINES AND BE A HYBRID DESIGNER, SUGGESTS JAIME HAYON. Te x t
» Asih Jenie
» Courtesy of Hayon Studio unless otherwise stated
Left: Spanish creator Jaime Hayon has studios in rural Spain, Italy and Japan. Image courtesy of DesignSingapore Council
Right: The Showtime Multi-leg Cabinet for BD Barcelona Design, shown with the King Kong Mirror. Image courtesy of BD Barcelona Design
COMMUNITY | PROFILE
A g a r d e n o f c e r a m i c cactus sculptures, a four-legged green chicken rocking chair, and a chronograph with a monkey face are among the products of Jaime Hayon’s surreal universe. They are strange, they are unabashedly whimsical, and just like their creator, they comfortably exist in the intersection of art and design. Also, and perhaps most importantly, they sell; some as artworks sold by galleries and some as commercial design products produced by the world’s most recognisable brands. Hayon’s portfolio and clientele are so diverse that in writing about him, one must either go specific and hyphenate his profession (artist-designer, artist and industrial designer) or generalise (creator). “Ever since I got out of school and started to do what I am doing, people have tried to put me in all kinds of pockets. The funny thing is, we are in the perfect moment for being a hybrid. We are in this generation where people have to make disciplines interesting,” he says at our interview ahead of his keynote presentation at the DesignSingapore Council’s Innovation by Design Conference during Singapore Design Week in March. “The way I see design is not the way design has been for many years,” he adds. “Design is no longer only about function. Of course, a chair is for sitting, but it is also about emotions, about understanding tradition and bringing it back, about dialogues, about themes – a lot of things. I am a part of a generation whose design comes with storytelling, which is much more linked to art because art always has a concept and a narrative behind it.” Basically, he says, he is writing a story with his creations, which span the fields of arts, design, fashion and various hybrids thereof. Hayon’s exuberant aesthetic had been credited as a major part of the design zeitgeist in the mid-2000s, when the design industry started to catch up with the fashion industry in banking on designer names. “In the ’50s, the designer had the role of responding to industry and helping it to make it possible for the public to use things. Then machines and technology advanced, and now it is all accessible. And suddenly we are in need of a soul, of something different,” he says of how the industry has changed. He thinks that that was the time when the media started writing more about the people behind the design, and that changed the status of designers and the public perception of the profession. Hayon’s career in the field of industrial design came, as he put it, through the back door. He studied industrial design at the Instituto Europeo di Diseño in Madrid and the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs (ENSAD) in Paris. “You were taught to work for the industry,
Top: Hayon’s interior for the New Studio and Discovery Space at the Groninger Museum in The Netherlands references the jungle with elements such as a snake-like work bench
Bottom: With the famous Green Chicken rocking chair, Hayon portrayed a common bird as a sensational object
and you were basically anonymous. But then you graduated and there were no jobs. If you approached companies and asked them if they wanted to produce something you made, they would say, ‘Please get in line, because you are nobody,’” he laments. After graduation, in 1997, he took a job as researcher at Fabrica, a design and communication academy funded by the Benetton Group in Treviso, Italy. He was promoted to head of the design department within a year while finding his own creative outlet by making ceramic objects and exhibiting them in galleries. He set up his own practice, Hayon Studio, in 2000, and started to fully dedicate himself to his personal project in 2003. In the same year, his exhibition Mediterranean Digital Baroque at the David Gill Galleries in London caught the design industry’s eye. The exhibition was a glimpse into Hayon’s personal surreal universe filled with loud graffiti and giant sculptures of cacti and supersonic pigs in vibrant colours. Following the exhibition, Hayon was commissioned to design a bathroom suite for small Spanish brand ArtQuitect, the success of which triggered an avalanche of industrial design commissions from all manner of brands, from Lladró to Fritz Hansen. On how he got to the level of recognition where category distinction no longer matters, he says: “If you create your own aesthetic, your own planet, you start to create your own language – a language that speaks about everything that you do. You’ll realise that there are no more categories – no such things as architecture, design, industrial design, graphic design. You can just do things.” Many of Hayon’s commercial designs were based on his gallery artworks, being tweaked for industrial production. Cases in point are the sculptures that have been released as porcelain figurines by Lladró, and the multi-legged cabinet that forms part of the Showtime Collection for BD Barcelona. Hayon has also successfully parlayed his installation and exhibition design into more permanent interior design projects – the latest one is the New Studio and Discovery Space at the Groninger Museum, Netherlands. Asked if there was anything he would love to design, he volleys the question back. “I don’t know, man. People will come and ask me to design something crazy for them, like a Christmas cake, or a mirror that can tell you if you’re unwell. People are creative,” he quips.
h ayonstudio.com designsingapor e.org
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ARCHITECTURE IN PROCESS THROUGHOUT THE DIVERSE PORTFOLIO OF CSYA IS EVIDENCE OF A PROCESS-DRIVEN ARCHITECTURE, AN INVENTIVE APPROACH TO THE BRIEF, AND A THOUGHTFUL RESPONSE TO THE TROPICAL CLIMATE. T e x t
» F e l i c i a To h
P r o j e c t i m a g e s
» Courtesy of CSYA
Portr ait and Studio Photogr aphs
» Justin Loh
S o n n y C h a n S a u Ya n a n d P h i l i p Y o n g , Directors at Singapore-based architectural practice CSYA, are firm believers in the process of architecture, rather than knowable outcomes that are prescribed from the onset. “Architects are not plastic surgeons,” quips Yong. “When you go to a plastic surgeon, you want to know the exact nose and eye you will be getting, but when you go to an architect, it’s okay not to know, right?” In today’s Internet-savvy environment saturated with Pinterest mood images that clients may have at the ready, CSYA resists the temptation of instant architecture and advocates sticking through the process to its final outcome. “It can be quite unsettling for clients because they always want to find out what the end result will be. But we don’t really know what the end is until we finish. It’s a form of discovery,” Chan concurs.
COMMUNITY | PORTFOLIO
Chan founded CSYA in 1993 after leaving Kumpulan Akitek, having just clinched the commission for the Singapore Post Centre. Yong joined the practice in 2001, and for the past fifteen years the office has focused on exploration and learning. “I’ve always been involved in the school of architecture since coming back from the UK in 1964 – as an external critic and examiner,” says Chan. He continues, “I like practice as well as keeping in touch with the school.” He occupies the first level of their four-storey office, located within a shophouse on Keong Saik Road, and makes several trips upstairs daily to converse with the architects and designers at their desks. “It’s like a studio, just that the professor walks around and the students sit in different classrooms,” Yong reveals of their modus operandi. Eschewing official crits for the spontaneity of informal table discussions within project teams, the roles of Chan and Yong in studio direction overlap organically, unlike other practices where partners may specialise in specific areas. “We don’t split projects between us; Philip may drop in separately and make the crit, and the next day I may say something else,” Chan laughs. “This may confuse the architects but it also makes them stronger, as it pushes them to recognise or differentiate what we are trying to say.” This process has worked well for CSYA over the years, nourishing an explorative culture within the practice, where architects are given the freedom to initiate project concepts.
Left: A display of project presentation boards animates the CSYA meeting room in the first floor of the office. Photo by Justin Loh
Right: Directors Philip Yong (left) and Sonny Chan (right) pictured outside the Keong Saik Road shophouse that accommodates their studio. Photo by Justin Loh
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“OUR PORTFOLIO IS MULTI DIRECTIONAL; IT LOOKS CHAOTIC IN SOME WAYS BUT IT IS ACTUALLY VERY CONSISTENT.” » P h i l i p Yong
One of the visible outcomes of this iterative studio-driven process lies in the diversity of CSYA’s portfolio. Spanning from cluster housing projects such as Mont Timah to office buildings like Tokio Marine Centre in the CBD, landed houses to master plan-scale projects for HDB, the range is markedly diverse in terms of style, material choices and processes of resolution. However, an onlooker might observe several tenets that persist through these projects of various scales: CSYA’s responses to the tropical climate, and an inventive approach to the brief. As Yong notes, “Our portfolio is multi directional; it looks chaotic in some ways but it is actually very consistent.” Nassim Jade, a condominium completed in 1997, introduced balconies and the use of timber screens to Singapore before the Urban Redevelopment Authority incentivised balconies through gross floor area (GFA) exemptions. While fair-faced concrete is seemingly the rage in architectural circles today, Chan first employed it at Hyatt Kuantan (with Kumpulan Akitek) in 1976. “Things evolve. Trends come and go. We hope that the elements in our projects are not because of trends but because of what we believe in, and hopefully, the clients also believe in and accept,” says Yong. In spite of, or perhaps because of, the seemingly open-ended nature of exploration, both principals are cognizant of the need to convince clients to embark on this journey. Mont Timah, a cluster housing project of 32 strata units, endured a 14year gestation period that was interrupted by three economic recessions. The genius of this project lies in its plan. Units are clustered in groups of fours in a pinwheel arrangement. Each cluster pivots around four internal staircases and lifts, leaving the perimeter of each unit open with a corner view.
Top: The Hyatt Kuantan in Malaysia (completed in 1976) is a project that Chan worked on during his time with Kumpulan Akitek. Photo courtesy of Hyatt Kuantan, Malaysia
Bottom: Fair-faced concrete was first explored by Chan at the Hyatt Kuantan. The design also explored the Malay kampong typology. Photo by Chan Sau Yan Sonny
COMMUNITY | PORTFOLIO
Top: The House at Ewart Park (completed in 2007) offers open and expansive spaces beneath large protective canopies. Photo by Aaron Pocock Photography
Bottom left: After Chan’s explorations of regional themes, he took a more contemporary design direction the Nassim Jade condominium (completed in 1997). Photo by Albert Lim KS
Bottom right: At Nassim Jade, CSYA introduced timber screens and balconies in advance of the URA’s GFA exemptions for the latter. Photo by Albert Lim KS
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COMMUNITY | PORTFOLIO
Instead of conventional cluster housing units that are typically tightly arranged in terraced rows, careful orientation allows each unit to breathe without issues of overlooking. The meeting of perpendicular glass panes also allows expansive views that read more like detached units. Initially, the client had some difficulty visualising the effects of the plan. Property agents advised that the units would be difficult to sell due to their four-storey height and perceived overlooking issues. But when the client visited the completed project on site, he realised its spatial potential and increased the value of each property. All 32 units sold out shortly after the launch. While the final outcome was certainly gratifying, what is noteworthy was that the basic plan and concept remained largely unchanged over the 14-year iteration process. In an industry accustomed to requests for multiple options and design changes, it is remarkable that the clarity of the initial concept was sufficient to carry through to final execution. Tackling the brief innovatively involves finding appropriate responses to a host of project-specific data: the site, user requirements and applicable regulations to name a few. Beginning with unique genesis points and subsequently, allowing each project the freedom to chart its own trajectory, generates diversity in CSYA’s portfolio. “We try to make every project a little bit different – not because they need to be, but because they are occupied by different people.” Yong says. For the Tokio Marine Centre, completed in 2010, the commission began with a photograph of bamboo chopsticks splayed within a drinking glass. “It was quite simple, but it struck a chord with our Japanese clients,” Chan reveals. CSYA did not want a conventional glazed tower set within the CBD. Instead, inspired by the imagery of bamboo bracing itself as it rises from the ground, their proposal to Tokio Marine was to locate the organic structural elements along the facade, simultaneously casting shadows from their depth. Beginning with a smaller
Left: The Mont Timah cluster housing (completed in 2011) groups units in a pinwheel arrangement, leaving each corner open to the view. Photo by Aaron Pocock Photography
Top: Despite their density, the Mont Timah units read more like detached units. The layout overcomes the overlooking issues that are typically faced in such developments. Photo by Aaron Pocock Photography
“CLIENTS ALWAYS WANT TO FIND OUT WHAT THE END RESULT WILL BE. BUT WE DON’T REALLY KNOW WHAT THE END IS UNTIL WE FINISH. IT’S A FORM OF DISCOVERY.” » Sonny Chan
Bottom: The Del Monte Headquarters in the Philippines (completed in 2013) frames playful screens with a rational framework. Photo by Aaron Pocock Photography
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DISCIPLINE AND SCULPTURE
CASE STUDY | HOUSE
REACHING OUTWARD DRAMATICALLY WITH PROTECTIVE CANOPIES, THIS HOUSE BY K2LD ARCHITECTS IS A MARRIAGE OF DISCIPLINED INTENT AND EXPRESSIVE ENQUIRY.
Te x t
» Chu Lik Ren
» Pat r ic k B i ng h a m-H a l l
In fashion, first impressions count. In architecture, first impressions are permanent. Approaching the H House for the first time, the surprising and not unpleasant dichotomy between the florid gate (the design of which was inspired by the Tanglin Gate at the Singapore Botanic Gardens) and the disciplined lines of the house behind it is but a hint and prelude to the lively and engaging dialogue that is to come within the house – an exchange between the purity of an architectural language and the romance of interior design. The architect was Ko Shiou Hee of K2LD, who was appointed by the clients after a selection process. The interior design was largely conceived by Kri:eit Associates, with contributions from the owners and their children. The result is an eclectic fusion between timeless backdrops and ephemeral decors, a mix of exteriors that exude warmth and interiors that are multi-faceted and industrial. “K2LD’s approach is not a mono-cultural one, where we say it has to have a K2LD look. We want the owner’s house to be the owner’s house,” Ko says with a degree of largesse. While this may be the case, hallmarks of K2LD’s work are still very much on offer in this Bukit Timah residence, with an orthogonal and immaculately finished house that appears to hover over the ground. “This is a tropical section we have worked out as a design strategy since my early Nassim Road houses,” explains Ko. “We cantilever the second floor, and
Above: The tectonic prowess of the architecture (in contrast with the botanically themed gate) is apparent from the frontal view of the house
Right: The double cantilever (cantilevered floor and cantilevered roof) is “a tropical section” (says Ko) that has become a recognisable design strategy for K2LD
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“K2LD’S APPROACH IS NOT A MONO-CULTURAL ONE, WHERE WE SAY IT HAS TO HAVE A K2LD LOOK. WE WANT THE OWNER’S HOUSE TO BE THE OWNER’S HOUSE.” » Ko Shiou Hee
CASE STUDY | HOUSE
then the roof cantilevers even more offering good rain protection for the ground floor.” In the case of the H House, the cantilevered eave profile is a mere 75 millimetres thick at its edge, its soffit richly finished in teak. “We purposely skewed the roof profile slightly to enhance the perspectival perception of the roof and increase the sense of lightness,” Ko adds, with an innate understanding of the photogenic demands that his architecture will be subjected to. The front of the house faces west and the plan devised is a simple, classical ‘H’ – partly in response to a tested strategy to direct views towards the natural surroundings and partly to minimise exposure to the sun. “It’s not that we had much of a choice – either you look at your side neighbours, to the back or to the front. The owners preferred the front,” Ko remarks. The bridge that connects the two wings is dramatically porous in visual terms and contains the social heart of the house, this being the living room on the first floor and the family hall on the second floor. It is fronted by a pool and its rear would have framed the view of a majestic tree planted on a neighbour’s lot, but this was sadly felled while the house was being constructed. Nevertheless, with a drop of 1.5 metres between the house and road levels, there is a vantage point to the west that proved irresistible, particularly from the upper floor. Here, the corners of the two wings are taken up by the main bedrooms, and their facade treatments are subtly differentiated – one having a planter with sliding timber screens and the other a balcony with pivoting ones. The other characteristic that typifies a K2LD house is its deft handling of natural materials and how steel, stone, wood and glass are composed to their best chiaroscuro effect. This sensitivity to the expressive qualities of materials is reminiscent of the works by Japanese architects such as Kengo Kuma, and Ko himself had worked for a number of years in Japan at the inception of his career. There is a care for old-fashioned craftsmanship and of things assembled by hand, down to how exposed bolts are aligned. And at the same time, cuttingedge construction technology is deployed to achieve the highest level of workmanship. This marriage of tradition and innovation is mirrored in the contrast between an exterior that is warm and earthy with delicate timber strips and striated stone work, and the spacious interiors
Left: The entry procession passage is marked by gentle, 100mm-high steps and the chiaroscuro effect of the material composition
Top: The staircase is slightly skewed, evoking a sculptural quality in the interior. Manufacturer’s markings were intentionally left on the steel balustrade sheeting
Bottom: The double-height powder room is fitted with copper pipes and exposed lightbulbs – interior design studio Kri:eit’s nod to the homeowner’s penchant for the industrial look
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_ 2ND STOREY PLAN
_ ROOF/SITE PLAN
_ LEGEND 1 Entrance Foyer | 2 Living Room | 3 Dining Room | 4 Dry Kitchen | 5 Wet Kitchen | 6 Laundry | 7 Utility | 8 Guest Room | 9 Powder Room | 10 Shoe Store | 11 Storage | 12 Patio | 13 Pool | 14 AC Condenser | 15 Family/Study Room | 16 Master Bedroom | 17 Bedroom | 18 Home Theatre
_ 1ST STOREY PLAN
CASE STUDY | HOUSE
Above: In contrast with the warm, timber-clad exterior, the interior has a raw, industrial aesthetic marked by cement flooring, patinated metal and an electic choice of furniture
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THE CONSTANT RE-INVENTION TWO OF THE MOST RECENTLY COMPLETED AESOP STORES, DESIGNED BY RUSSELL & GEORGE, EMBRACE CONTEXTUAL DIALOGUE TO RETELL THE BRAND’S STORY.
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» F e l i c i a To h
» Wa i K a y P h o t o g r a p h y ( We s t g a t e) a n d Fu n k yDa l i P ho t o g r a ph y ( K L C C ) (C ou r t e s y of A e s op)
CASE STUDY | RETAIL
Above: Beneath a frameless mirror, a composition of oak and leather sets the framework for the growth of a creeper that will alter the character of the Westgate store over time
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H e a d q u a rt e r e d i n M e l b o u r n e , A e s o p wa s established in 1987 and is a cult favourite for its impeccable store interiors and quality products stored in signature brown bottles. Stepping into any Aesop store is an immersive experience that is strangely ethereal, elevating the common retail environment to the genre of art installation. Located all around the world, more than fifty of these Aesop stores were designed by architecture and design practice Russell & George over the last eight years. â€œThe brand has evolved considerably over that time, and it has been a wonderful experience to be part of this,â€? says Ryan Russell, who together with business partner Byron George, founded award-winning practice Russell & George in Australia and Italy. Recently, two of the latest Aesop offerings were launched in Southeast Asia: Westgate, Singapore and KLCC, Kuala Lumpur. Each project acquires meaning through specific references to its site. And the originality of the Aesop retail experience springs precisely from this contextual dialogue.
Top: The large-format tester sink is finished with brass, the ageing and oxidation of which will introduce new tones
Bottom: A view toward the point-of-sale counter at the rear of the space. Strip lighting set within the shelving contributes to the graphic quality
CASE STUDY | RETAIL
“Design has the ability to tell a story. In this instance the store tells the story of the local area in a poetic way,” Russell shares of the design for Aesop Westgate. Referencing the transformative history of the Jurong district from forested mangrove swamp to industrial precinct, the design reconciles this transition through an inversion. By planting an evergreen climber, heartleaf philodendron, nature is invited to creep up a wall of coarse-textured white render, which is sectioned with a grid of rectilinear white oak elements. Over time, portions of the render will gradually disappear under the green leaves. The facade is a delicate assemblage of timber lines, loosely demarcating the space while intersecting it with the exterior. Daylight enters the deep volume, effecting a tranquil inner garden that grows with each season. In reference to the area’s sawmilling past, the same timber dresses much of the interior including the point-of-sale, product displays and flooring, keeping consistent the neutral palette as a backdrop to the greenery. Porous and breezy, the interior breathes as a place for respite while gently noting the fragility of ecology. The material palette of oak, brass accents and white render was composed in simple and structured configurations, which Russell says is “reminiscent of Asian proportions and industrial scaffolds.” The shelving units are carefully calibrated to the dimensions of merchandise, and when filled, read as stunning geometric patterns. The layout of the store is simple and straightforward, in contrast with the dynamic swell and abatement of the greenery. The everchanging growth of the garden over time will invite a new reading of the garden upon each revisit. “The seasonal nature of the design is delicate and unusual. This is simple yet experimental retail,” Russell notes. When asked if there are consistent principles tying together the diverse portfolio of works by Russell & George, he muses: “The process of re-invention seems to be an integral part of our process both internally and in how we work with clients. In this way our inconsistency in approach is the only principle that remains consistent.” Evidently, the varied outcomes of this critical process of re-invention are not dissonant, but instead create richness in their repertoire through intriguing interpretations.
Top: The assemblage of slim timber framework elements was inspired, in part, by scaffolding and the industrial context of the Jurong area
Bottom: The point-of-sale screen is set flush with the surface of the rear counter so as not to disrupt the prominence of the product packaging
AESOP, WESTGATE CLIENT Aesop DESIGN FIRM Russell & George BUILDER The Design Ministry LANDCAPE CONTRACTOR Terrascapes LLP TIME TO COMPLETE 2 months TOTAL FLOOR AREA 60.45 sqm RUSSELL & GEORGE (61) 3 9038 3240 russellandgeorge.com FINISHES Timber flooring is European oak. On tester sink, brass sheet. In seating area, Santorini Midnight cowhide leather.
“DESIGN HAS THE ABILITY TO TELL A STORY. IN THIS INSTANCE THE STORE TELLS THE STORY OF THE LOCAL AREA IN A POETIC WAY.” » Ryan Russel
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ARTIST, ARTWORK AND AUDIENCE HUMAN INTERACTION IS KEY TO THE IMMERSIVE DIGITAL EXPERIENCE GENERATED BY TEAMLAB AT FUTURE WORLD: WHERE ART MEETS SCIENCE – THE ARTSCIENCE MUSEUM’S FIRST PERMANENT EXHIBITION.
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» Stephanie Peh
» Courtesy of Marina Bay Sands and teamLab
Top: In the ‘Space’ section of the exhibition, Crystal Universe allows visitors to experience impressions of astrophysical phenomena and gravitational waves. Photo: teamLab
Bottom: In the ‘Nature’ section, 100 Years Sea Animation Diorama depicts rising sea levels and creates the illusion of the viewer being swallowed by the sea. Photo: teamLab
CURATE | ART
The output of Japanese art collective teamLab, although powered by computer language and algorithms unfathomable to the masses, is enjoyed by children and adults. Some 470,000 visitors attended its first large-scale exhibition in Tokyo, which opened last year. It hardly comes as a surprise that the collective’s latest show at the ArtScience Museum has garnered much attention. Future World: Where Art Meets Science spans 1,500 square metres, occupying approximately a quarter of the ArtScience Museum’s real estate. It also marks a couple of firsts. It is teamLab’s first permanent showcase at such a scale outside Japan, as well as the ArtScience Museum’s first permanent landmark exhibition. Fifteen installations come together and are sorted into sections titled Nature, Town, Park and Space. When co-curating the artworks, the ArtScience Museum envisioned the digital environments to inspire fun, play and contemplation, like a visit to a national park or garden. As a result, some of the artworks respond to the unique participation and presence of the audience, evolving over time. The exhibition opens with three coinciding artworks. A scented room is filled with digital flora, programmed to bloom in tandem with the four seasons. However, as visitors navigate the space, their actions affect the growth of the flowers and the behaviour of passing butterflies, and hence, they change the artwork. teamLab believes that this creates relationships between visitors; each person contributes to the perceived artwork of the next person. This concept of co-creation stems from teamLab’s intrinsic formation. The team consists of artists, programmers, engineers, CGI animators, mathematicians, architects, designers and editors. Often, a group of five to 60 specialists are assigned to collaborate on an artwork that may take three to 18 months to materialise, depending on the scale. As opposed to traditional paintings or sculpture, which are often set in stone when completed, teamLab’s work evolves through experiment or the emergence of new technology. Crystal Universe, an orchestration of 170,000 LED lights, utilises
Above: In the ‘Park’ section, Universe of Water Particles depicts an eight-metre-high waterfall and forms the centerpiece of the exhibition. Photo: teamLab
teamLab’s ‘Interactive 4-D Vision’ technology, creating impressions of various astrophysical phenomena from planets to galaxies. This piece of work took some time to materialise due to its complexity and production cost. According to teamLab, initial testing began in a commercial venue where a three-dimensional LED Christmas tree was created. The installation at Future World has advanced from that early version with sound effects, and can furthermore be controlled by visitors who may change the setting of the ‘stars’ on the spot. Most of teamLab’s artworks can also adopt new methods of display and adapt to different venues. During i Light Marina Bay 2016, visitors witnessed teamLab’s What a Loving and Beautiful World – a work that formed the collective’s debut showing (with Sisyu) in Singapore two years ago at Ikkan Art Gallery. In that past showing, the artwork filled a room, inviting the audience to physically touch it. This year’s version, projected on the facade of the ArtScience Museum, made physical contact impossible, and hence changes in the artwork were triggered by the use of an app. The ArtScience Museum states that it has always been part of its agenda to host a permanent, yet changing exhibition. However, this was delayed because the right partner had not been found. On why teamLab makes the ideal partner, the Executive Director of the ArtScience Museum Honor Harger suggests, “[T]he melding of art and science is so core to [teamLab’s] philosophy, and that is what we have been designed to do as a museum – to show what happens when you bring together art, science and technology. We genuinely believe that the coming together of these fields will give us the best chance at creating the solutions to some of the problems we face in society.” In the artwork 100 Years Sea Animation Diorama, a ten-minute animation illustrates the world’s rising sea levels over the span of a century using scientific data from the World Wildlife Foundation. At the peak of the installation, the viewer is faced with the illusion of being swallowed by the sea – an attempt to encourage reflections on the impact of one’s actions on the natural
world. Concludes Harger, “The belief that we are somewhat apart from nature has become an emergent existential issue. We need projects that create meaningful connections between people and the environment.” «
team-lab.net m ar inabaysands.com/museum
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