DATING APPS CLINICAL FACIALS BEST TRAINERS GOOD READS BUBBLY BRUNCHES SINGAPORE SECRETS
Customised Furniture Kitchens&Bathrooms + Inside an interior designer’s home
EDITOR’SNOTE The past year has brought a fewmajor issues like inequality to the fore. And, I have been thinking how in most cases there’s only a thin line between it and bullying. Whereas the big bullying themes, like gender and race, are acknowledged, there’s so much more that goes on either openly or on a subliminal level. All around the world, it’s prevalent: countryman to countryman, gender to gender, haves to have-nots, governments to governments, industry to media and vice versa. I was so shocked by the awful case here of a family starving their helper to death, and Sarah Everard’s murder in London – both intense forms of bullying in what should have been a safe environment. How Sarah’s vigil was managed is, I think, yet another. Apparently, the word “bully” was first used in the 1530s to mean “sweetheart” or “lover”! By the1700s, though, the word had deteriorated to mean “harasser of the weak”. How did it go from something lovely to something that’s so threatening and, in many cases, fatal? I know bullying is nothing new – it’s all throughout history. But that doesn’t mean it has to be swept under the carpet. So, now that it’s spring (since we are technically in the northern hemisphere), it’s as good a time as any to embrace a change. We don’t have to call it out necessarily, but let’s at least take a good look at it in all its forms. Now to what’s in this issue! Unfortunately, travel content is still limited, but we do have a piece on Singapore’s secret places so you can explore your own backyard instead; plus, there’s a bit of just about everything else for you, from brunch ideas to which trainers our EL team recommends. (I asked around as I was needing a new pair for my walks!) And, as always, there’s heaps more online at expatliving.sg. Grab a cup of tea, take a long breath out – and have a good read!
REBECCA BISSET Editor-in-Chief
Stay vigilent like this little dude!
Editor-in-Chief REBECCA BISSET
Managing Editor LEANDA RATHMELL Editorial Team HEALTH & FITNESS: AMY GREENBURG LIFE & FAMILY, TRAVEL: PATRICEA CHOW WINE & DINE, HAIR & BEAUTY: ANTHIA CHNG FASHION & HOMES: REBECCA BISSET Copy Editors Production Coordinator NUR HANANI KAMAL LUDDIN Graphic Designers MICHAEL BERNABE | JEANNE WONG Marketing, Circulation & Administration ANNA TSERLINGAS | VEENA GILL | SITI SHAHIRAH KHIRUDEEN Advertising Sales KARIN GALLEY | DANIELLE ROSSETTI | LARA SAGE | JACQUI YOUNG Events & Partnerships SUSAN KNUDSEN-PICKLES IT & Web Support RENE YUTIAMPO | HANADDI REY DIAZ MAMBA Chief Operations Officer COLIN PURCHASE Contributing Writers AMY BROOK-PARTRIDGE | FLEUR BUCKLAND | DEE KHANDUJA HARSHARAN KAUR | HEIDI SARNA | JO UPCRAFT Contributing Photographers BEATRICE CONTRINI (BEATRICECONTRINI.COM) KEN TAN (MISTERKENTAN.COM) CARLI TETERIS (CARLITETERIS.COM) SHAMUS SILLAR | JULIET KEYS Online & Digital Content MICHAELA BISSET
CONTACT US General Enquiries: +65 6812 1780 | firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising Sales: +65 6812 1781 | email@example.com Subscription: +65 6812 1783 | firstname.lastname@example.org Production: +65 6812 1787 | email@example.com Editorial & Media Releases: firstname.lastname@example.org Calendar of Events: email@example.com Events: firstname.lastname@example.org Websites: expatliving.sg | expatliving.hk
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Published by Expat Living Publications Pte Ltd 36 Carpenter Street, #02-01 Carpenter Haus, Singapore 059915
Island Living by Cocoon (islandliving.sg) Photography by Carli Teteris
NEWS 18 Things To Do:
28 We peek inside this eclectic Clementi home
How to keep busy at home
20 EL Forum:
Our online antics and upcoming events
HOME & PROPERTY 24 News 28 Home Showcase:
Inside an interior designer’s home
36 Villa Vibes:
Give your home a tropical touch
38 Timeless Trend:
Bone-inlay furniture and accessories 40 Customised Furniture: Readers share their tips 44 Buying Guide: Fab finds for kitchens and bathrooms 48 Airborne Assassins: How to keep your family safe 50 Street Talk: A guide to living in Mount Sophia
LIFE & FAMILY 58 News 64 Win! … a social media marketing strategy for your business 66 Noticeboard: Birth announcements 68 Dogs’ Day Out: Treat your fur-kid this weekend 70 Online Dating Apps, websites and agencies! 72 Preschool Pick: Tailored learning for different needs 73 Classroom Community: Bringing students and families together 74 Expert Advice: Managing toddler tantrums 76 Graduate Goals: IB students and the recipe for success
styling at home
44 Kit out your kitchen!
78 Cyber Security:
A protection training platform for schools
80 Car Talk:
To buy or lease? 82 Screen & Page:
Top TV and book recommendations
84 The Singapore Pages:
Exploring the island, past and present
110 Top travel spots we’re bookmarking!
WINE & DINE 90 News 93 New on the Block: Little Farms’ latest location 94 At the Bar: An old club gets a revamp 96 Kombucha Kick: 100 Recipe Corner: Easy bread pudding TRAVEL 104 News 106 Singapore Secrets: 98 Bottoms Up:
Why to add this drink to your diet
Three bubbly brunches to try
98 Free-flow finds in the city
A side of the island you mightn’t know
110 Trending Trips:
Destinations for the bucket list
STYLE & BEAUTY 116 Style News 118 Fashion Finds:
118 Dresses for all body types
Wrap dresses for all sizes
120 Sweat in Style:
Get fit while looking fab
122 Sole Searching: Our team’s trainer recommendations 124 Beauty News 126 Tried & Tested: Brightening solutions 128 Clinical Facials:
Problem-solving for pigmentation
130 Put to the Test:
How does cryotherapy work?
132 Product Profile:
Inside medical-grade skincare
Fashionable fingers on the pulse!
Workout essentials to get you moving
The latest beauty updates
HEALTH & FITNESS 140 News 142 Choosing a Doctor: What to factor in 144 Expert Advice: Nutrition tips from a top PT 147 Cartwheel Clan:
REGULARS 154 Horoscopes for April 156 Puzzle Pages 158 Numbers & Websites
A new gymnastics centre for the family
159 Advertiser List 160 Parting Shot:
148 Avoiding Injuries:
Common HIIT issues and how to get around them
Catching a taxi to nowhere
Open Days at Nexus International School
No Regrets, a Tribute to Edith Piaf (14-25 APR)
(Singapore) (10 & 24 APR)
Hosted and narrated by Hossan Leong, this production will take audiences on a musical journey with French music icon Edith Piaf, from her tough childhood to her big break. It will showcase 20 French and English songs, including classics such as “La Vie en rose”. Get your tickets from Sistic now. Singapore Streets (UNTIL 14 MAY) Feast your eyes on limited-edition hand-finished giclee prints by Louise Hill. The Singapore-based artist is known for her vibrant artworks that explore Asian popular culture and heritage. All artworks displayed are available for sale, ranging from $1,195 to $3,385 for framed pieces. Art space at Siri House Dempsey. louise-hill-design.com
Find out more about the Nexus teaching p h i l o s o p h y a n d curriculum during the school’s upcoming open days. Meet the leadership team, visit the campus and see for yourself if Nexus
is the right school for you and your child. Enjoy an application fee waiver if you submit your application in person or online during the Open Days. Registration is required and the school’s admissions team will confirm your visit. Find out more at openday.nexus.edu.sg . Shaws Preschool Open House (24 APR) Catering to Pre-Nursery to Kindergarten Two children, Shaws Preschool offers a stimulating and vibrant learning environment. During this open house event, take a look inside the classrooms, meet the teachers, check out the sports lessons and explore the outdoor space and butterfly gardens. You’ll also be able to find out more about the ShawsPlay curriculum. All campuses will be open for visits from 9am to 1pm. Limited spaces available; make an appointment by contacting enrolment manager Dana at email@example.com and 9789 2255. shaws.com.sg
Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition (UNTIL 13 JUN)
The exhibition displays close to 200 original items from the extensive Lucas Museum of Narrative Art archive, exploring the science of identity through Star Wars characters. These include authentic props, models, costumes and artwork from original films. Visitors will go on a customised and interactive identity quest to learn more about Star Wars characters while discovering their own identities. ArtScience Museum
Photo: Lucasfilm Ltd.
Head to one of these skate parks around the island and show off your moves!
#1 Somerset Skate Park Located outside Somerset MRT, the graffiti-covered skate park has ramps, rails and tough obstacles to enjoy. It’s a popular attraction for skaters from all corners of Singapore, thanks to its central location and bevy of shops, cafés and entertainment spots nearby. #2 Xtreme SkatePark As its name suggests, this skate park – the first on the island – caters to all kinds of skill levels. Situated at East Coast Park, it’s been built to international
competitive standards and suits beginners as well as seasoned skaters and BMX bikers. The 1.4-hectare compound includes a street course, combo bowl and a vertical bowl for tricks and cruising. #3 Sports Hub Skate Park Head to Gate 14 of the National Stadium and check out this skate park. It features a variety of basic obstacles – rails, a fun-box and mini quarter-pipes – that are suitable for both beginners and professionals to practice their moves.
#4 Bishan Harmony Park Skate Park Equipped with all the essentials, this heartland skate park has ramps, a large bowl and plenty of flat space – great for newbies to practice and more experienced skaters to conquer complex tricks. It’s also fairly easy to get to, being a stone’s throw from Bishan MRT (beside Block 102 at Bishan Street 12). #5 Chinese Gardens Lakeside Skatepark With obstacles like a flat rail and a half-pipe, this small skate park at the Chinese Gardens is perfect for beginners. It’s a great spot for those who live in the West. #6 Woodlands Skatepark This modestly sized skate park is located minutes away from Woodlands MRT (Woodlands Drive 50). It has ramps and rails for showing off your gnarliest tricks and many teens and young amateur skateboarders flock here to practice manoeuvring.
Don’tmissourmonthly events! Register at expatliving.sg/ELevents
Singapore Immigration “Matters” The Ins & Outs of Becoming a Singapore PR / Citizenship
TeenTalk Parenting teenagers in these unconventional times: physical, mental and sexual health with Dr Neil Forrest at Osler Health International
Masterclass How to Effortlessly Create Memorable Pockets of Space in Your Home! with Emperor’s Attic and The Cinnamon Room Styling
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April 2021 Issue 225 S$6.90 MCI (P) 076/02/2021
DATING APPS CLINICAL FACIALS BEST TRAINERS GOOD READS BUBBLY BRUNCHES SINGAPORE SECRETS April 2021 Issue 225 Customised Furniture Kitchens&Bathrooms + Inside an interior designer’s home
Customised Furniture Kitchens&Bathrooms + Inside an interior designer’s home
ACTIVEWEAR • KITCHENS & BATHROOMS • BRUNCHES
ACTIVEWEAR • KITCHENS & BATHROOMS • BRUNCHES
DATING APPS CLINICAL FACIALS BEST TRAINERS GOOD READS BUBBLY BRUNCHES SINGAPORE SECRETS
MCI (P) 076/02/2021
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Get a FREE copy of our latest Home & Property Guide! You’ll find inspiring furnishing
The team from PropertyGuru runs through some key things to consider if you’re a newcomer looking for a place to live (or an “oldie” who’s keen for a refresher course!). The Home Hunt
Tenancy Agreements: 7 clauses to consider The Tenancy Agreement (TA) is a legally binding document detailing the rental terms between you (the tenant) and the landlord. It’s usually prepared by the landlord (or their appointed agent) according to the Council of Estate Agencies’ (CEA) template. You should pay special attention to the following clauses. #1 Security Deposit: This clause usually sets the terms for a deduction at the end of the lease period that can be used to cover the cost of repairing and replacing any damaged items, while allowing leeway in fair wear and tear of items over time. #2 Diplomatic Clause: This clause allows you to break the rental agreement if you lose your job or are unexpectedly posted to another country and need to leave Singapore. The notice period is usually two months. #3 Minor Repairs & Other Maintenance Clauses: As per the standard rental agreement, tenants are liable to pay for any repair and maintenance costs that fall below a range of $150 to $300. This amount is negotiable. #4 Option to Renew: This clause allows tenants to extend their lease for another year as long as they give prior notice. The tenant or landlord can amend clauses within the existing agreement on mutual consent. #5 Late Payment/Non-Payment of Rent: The landlord is allowed to set the consequences should the tenant pay late rent, or is unable to pay rent at all. Usually, this will involve interest imposed on the outstanding rent. #6 “En Bloc” Clause: This clause serves to protect the landlord’s interest if the property is sold for redevelopment. In such circumstances, the landlord can choose to terminate the lease without having to compensate the tenant. #7 Privacy and Access: This clause specifies a list of reasons under which the landlord is allowed to access the premises while you’re staying there. This usually includes repairs, renovations and viewings for future tenants. Move-In Checklist The landlord or owner must prepare an inventory report for you to check and sign on the day you move in. This includes detailed information on the condition of the property’s interiors, and covers existing damage to any fixtures, fittings and appliances. If you’ve inspected the property well at your viewing, you can tally that knowledge with your photos of the move-in day to record the original condition of the property and look for inconsistencies. In Singapore, tenants of a newly rented property enjoy an initial grace period of 30 days under the Problem-Free Period Clause. This protects you from liability for damages caused by a previous tenant, and allows you time to inform the landlord of any damages or issues with the property over the initial 30-day period.
Renting in Singapore, like most places, is about finding the sweet spot between convenience and affordability. Those on a smaller budget can consider single rooms in government-owned apartments known as Housing and Development Board (“HDB”) flats, while those with more to spare can look at private properties like condo units or landed houses. Rental prices are also influenced by location – generally, the nearer the property is to the city centre, the more it’ll cost. Shortlisting & Inspecting The first step is to peruse a thorough listing of residential properties based on what matters the most to you. You can narrow down the listings on PropertyGuru by property type, proximity to MRT, area size, lease terms and price. You’ll then be connected to reliable property agents based on your preferences. Once you’ve found a place you love the look of, it’s time to inspect it, before making a preliminary offer to the landlord. Property inspections can be arranged with registered agents via PropertyGuru. Experts in the market, these agents can help you explore the neighbourhood and address any concerns on the condition of the property, nearby amenities, the noise levels, your immediate neighbours and, perhaps, the reputation of your owner. When inspecting your potential new home, take notes and photos of the following: • any cracks, scratches and/or other damages caused by mould or water; • any exposed pipes and/or broken fixtures; • any creaking and/or damaged furniture; • the number of household appliances and their condition; • the number of air-conditioning units (as they require regular servicing). Also, measure rooms for moving furniture, and be sure to enquire about parking on or near the property, and, if relevant, about the landlord’s policy on keeping pets. If you’d like to proceed, the next steps are to prepare a Letter of Intent (LOI) and submit it together with a good faith deposit, usually equivalent to one or two month’s rent. After you sign the Tenancy Agreement (see below), the good faith deposit will typically be used as payment for the security deposit.
Start browsing Singapore properties for sale and rent at www.propertyguru.com.sg.
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HOME&PROPERTYGUIDE2021 | 15
It’s a very special home to all who have lived here, too. “Twice, we’ve had families come by with elderly grandparents from overseas,” explains Charlie. “They just rang the doorbell wanting to see the home because they’d lived here as kids. Both were children of British officers and were intrigued to see where they grew up. I tried to leave them be, to enjoy the trip down memory lane for themselves.” The four-bedroom, four-bathroom home would be very similar to how those families remember it, though there have been some changes made over the years. Charlie and her family added a covered area outside for a dining table, using the existing covered area as an outdoor living room. They also rejigged the fans, added air-conditioning and changed a lot of the lighting. The kind of people that suit living in black-and- whites, in Charlie’s view, are people who really want to create a home and feel dedicated to creating a home. “Youhave to feel somewhat committed to Singapore and to the life here, and to creating a family environment. And you have to be prepared to spend money towards the home’s upkeep; you can’t scrimp and save, or else you’re doing a disservice to the building. It’s a form of dedication to live here and make a life here.”
ideas, home décor tips and useful advice on the property market.
Ridley Park Black-and-White
Today, half of the Ridley Park is occupied by British consulate staff, the other half is not. Charlie’s home is one of the latter. “I feel like I’m just the next custodian of this beautiful home,” she says. “I want to respect everything that’s gone before and respect what this house means to Singapore’s heritage. I feel this is a responsibility for anybody who lives in a black-and-white.” This particular black-and-white is a little different to many of the colonial homes built in the area. It has Art Deco touches in the design, with doorways that are squared, not rounded, a flat roof and other distinct elements. Charlie Cameron and her family moved four years ago into one of the stunning black-and-white houses in Ridley Park, once the accommodation for British officers who commanded the men in the barracks that are now Dempsey Hill. Home
HOME&PROPERTYGUIDE2021 | 17
Farewell to Singapore
16 | HOME&PROPERTYGUIDE2021
Kristin and husband Jason moved around a lot when they arrived in Singapore, starting out in Robertson Quay prior to having the first of their three children. “It’s a great place to get grounded and be right in the middle of things,” she says. “We loved being on the river and all that it had to offer from a dining and entertainment perspective.” From there, they left condo living and headed to Bukit Timah, first to a terraced house that ended up having all kinds of unexpected problems, and then to a townhouse where they discovered that walking up and down four floors of staircases all day wasn’t for them! American expat Kristin Keen spent a wonderful ten years in Singapore – and, before she left, she showed us through her happy family home and shared her thoughts on saying goodbye.
It was a case of third time lucky, and this final house has proved the ideal spot for the family. One reason for this, in Kirstin’s view, has been embracing the notion of making a house a home.
“My biggest regret was not doing this as soon as we arrived. It’s easy to have the mentality of it being a temporary stay: it’s just a rental property, so let’s not hang the pictures, paint the walls, or buy a piece of furniture that suits the space. But two years easily turns into 10, and you lose all that time when you could have had a place that you really love to
To get a copy mailed to you, visit expatliving.sg/HPG
come home to. Once I embraced this, it was the turning point in maximising the enjoyment of this beautiful island.”
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That enjoyment, for Kristin, has come from many things: the people who’ve become lifelong friends; the fun things she’s done with the family; the ability to go swimming every day. “Also, the freedom I’ve had as a mum to pop out with no children in tow for a quick errand or a civilised lunch! And I’ve loved never having to look to see what the weather will be like for the day.”
“I’ll miss this house, too,” she says finally, “and all the parties and fun and laughs that we’ve had here.”
HOME&PROPERTYGUIDE2021 | 21
Complimentary copies of the latest guide is only while stocks last and for a limited time only. Visit expatliving.sg/shop to view all our annual guides or purchase the latest issue.
HOME & PROPERTY
38 Statement Pieces: Where to find bone- inlay treasures
44 Buying Guide: Cool picks for your kitchen and bathrooms
28 Home Showcase: We go inside an interior designer’s pad
50 Street Talk: Exploring the Mount Sophia neighbourhood
HOME & PROPERTY
Buying in theUK
Bee Mine KitchenAid has announced its 2021 Colour of the Year: Honey. A warm and rich hue with golden-orange undertones, this sweet edition aims to radiate positivity and warmth as we continue spending more time getting creative in our kitchens. It’s available in various appliances, including the iconic Artisan Stand Mixer ($899) and K400 Blender ($549). Get yours at kitchenaid.sg .
If you’re looking to get on the UK property ladder, Edwards & Plumb Property is a family-run bespoke property concierge dedicated to helping you make the right investment from afar. Whether it’s a flat in Fulhamor a Manchester mansion, let the team assist you with everything from property viewings and deal negotiations to rental analysis and guidance on refurbishment requirements. What’s more, once you’ve secured the deal, Edwards & Plumb also offers full property management services including legal matters, property inspections and advertising services for those looking to lease. Find out more at edwardsandplumbproperty.com .
Doctor Desktop We may not miss the daily commute and average office coffee, but working from home comes with its share of productivity pitfalls. If you’re facing digital woes at home, Tekkie Help can get you set up to work more efficiently and effectively. As well as optimising your Wi-Fi network to ensure seamless video calls, they can help recommend and supply any required equipment, frommonitors and stands to dual screens, headsets and data storage. Get set up and running now by calling Sarah at 8113 8682, or visit tekkiehelp.com for more info. Psst … quote “ExpatOfficePromo” for a 10 percent discount!
Timeless Threads Like our wardrobes, every home needs a few quality pieces that are versatile, functional and stand the test of time. Available exclusively at Altfield Interiors, the latest collection from Australian textile brand Westbury is guaranteed to nail the neutrals while withstanding everyday wear and tear. Woven from natural, high-performance yarn, these textiles are highly durable and come in an easy neutral palette to suit both contemporary and traditional interior and outdoor spaces. Feel the fabric for yourself at the Altfield Interiors showroom at #07-10 Central Mall Office Tower, 1 Magazine Road .
HOME & PROPERTY
Forget a lick of paint, how about 3D feature walls for something different? Vwalla allows you to break up the white wall monotony and skip the cost of contractors with its cool do- it-yourself wall panels. Made of high- impact polyvinyl chloride, the panels are durable, odourless, waterproof and fire-resistant, making them suitable for indoor and outdoor use. Available in 25 funky designs, from exposed brick to soothing waves, Vwalla makes home improvement easy, affordable and fun for the family with its easy-to-follow installation instructions. vwalla.co
Posh Pets Join Scandinavian furniture retailer Danish Design Co in spoiling your fur baby with this latest line of pet furniture by German design label MiaCara. Made lovingly for our feline and canine counterparts, the luxury collection promises quality and sophistication in everything from stylish beds and bowls to sleek scratching posts and kitty litters. Even better, five percent of profits from sales are donated to the Animal Lovers League Charity, a registered animal shelter in Singapore that operates on a strict“no-kill” policy. Check out the full collection at danishdesignco.com.sg .
H o m e - g r o w n fragrance brand SIX has expanded its product line of fine fragrances to include a home scenting collection o f d i f f u s e r s , desktop nebulizers ( pi ctured ) , pure essential oils and disinfectant sprays. To e x p e r i e n c e the benef i ts for y o u r s e l f , S I X now has a multi- sensorial boutique
at 313@somerset, designed by local artists Clara Yee and Gerald Leow. More than just a retail space, the boutique is designed to be an intimate respite to soothe the senses and represent founder Jason Lee’s vision of creating a sanctuary for customers to take a break from their busy lives (and the mania of Orchard Road!). scentbysix.com
HOME & PROPERTY
SEEING DOUBLE: SEEING DOUBLE:
Why do I have duplicate photos in my photo library? Duplicate photos are usually caused by the same photos being consolidated frommultiple devices or family members. Duplication from downloading the same photo from emails, Facebook or WhatsApp can also occur due to software corruption or importing photos from old backups. themcanbe a riskybusiness, too. Tekkie Help experts SARAH and BO share some of the common causes of the unwanted double-ups, how to safely remove them and what you can do to prevent them in the future. Deal ing wi th those p e s k y d u p l i c a t e photos is not only time consuming, but deleting
How can I quickly and easily locate and delete duplicate photos?
Manually deleting duplicate pictures one by one requires a lot of patience and willpower. You also need to be very careful that you don’t delete the wrong one; for example, two photos may look identical but, in actual fact, one may only be a thumbnail image (very low in resolution) whilst the other is the original full-size image that you want to keep. Fortunately, there’s software in the market to help identify and safely remove duplicate photos. We like PhotoSweeper, which is a fast, precise and super- efficient tool to eliminate similar or duplicate photos, even in huge photo libraries. It also detects and deletes small-sized images. It can be tricky to get to grips with, so Tekkie Help provides training workshops on how to use it. Alternatively, if you’d rather avoid the hassle entirely, Tekkie Help can step in to consolidate all your photos from your devices and remove all the duplicate photos, leaving you with a consolidated Digital Photo Hub, free from duplicates. How can I prevent duplicate photos in the future? Try not to import the same photo again. We recommend manually importing photos from devices and taking the time each month to scan and delete identical images.
If you want to learn how to better organise and manage your photos, check out Tekkie Help’s range of training workshops at tekkiehelp.com/ it-training or call 8113 8682 to arrange a private consultation.
an Interior Designer’s Home
We take a look around the eclectic home of ISABELLE MIAJA and ask her why she chose this house in Clementi, and what she loves about Singapore and her work.
BY DEE KHANDUJA PHOTOGRAPHY BEATRICE CONTRINI
HOME & PROPERTY
I was interested to see how Isabelle had designed her own home, as I’d heard that she’d had experience in designing interiors for all types of residential homes, five-star hotels, superyachts, private aircrafts and villas for royalty, amongst other projects. I wasn’t disappointed! There’s an array of art, a blend of colours and textures, and some one-of-a-kind furniture and décor here, all of it seeming to tell stories from afar. Isabelle’s three bedroom (“plus a den”) house certainly has lots of talking points, as you might expect from an interior designer. She told me more about herself – and her home – over a delicious coffee and some buttery croissants. Isabelle, where are you from, when did you move to Singapore, and what do you do here? I’m half French and half Spanish, and I’ve lived in Singapore since 1995. I’ve been running my business, Miaja Group, for almost 26 years. I’ve lived in my current home for the past 16 years, and raised my three children here. I have aspects of French in some areas, and Spanish influence in others. My French accent is much stronger than my Spanish, but when it comes to my cooking, I like a lot of Spanish flavour. I guess my personality has also been influenced by the US, as I lived in New York and Los Angeles for around ten years. Do you identify with your French or Spanish roots more?
Tell us about your creative design process when you’re reimagining a client’s home. I wear so many hats in my design business, but I definitely enjoy the creative part best. I love walking into a place and visualising the end result. I can imagine the finished look in my mind. I actually enjoy seeing all the potential of a space, and noticing the “lesser” details; visualising how to make them a potential, too. When I walk into a space, I create a vision for the home and make “flaws” into assets. Obviously, there’s a whole process with building a connection with the client, understanding their vision, managing expectations and delivering the final outcome. I really believe a home deserves the space to express its own vibe. I’m just the catalyst that translates everything into the final look. How much of your client’s personality shows up in the final design? I need to get to know my clients and assess who they are and what their personalities are all about. So, when I work with residential spaces, I need to marry and blend both the client’s vision and personality with the vibe of the space. I always wanted a landed property with great views. I love that our home is surrounded by jungle and greenery – I love the blend of indoor and outdoor living spaces. The setting was super important to me, as I’m someone who loves nature; if I don’t have nature around me, I struggle. So, I had this home go under a “grandfather renovation”, whereby I kept certain aspects of the original structure and built more around it. Over the years, I’ve renovated here and there. What attracted you to this place so much that you’ve never moved out?
It’s interesting to see how a designer designs their own home. What inspired you with your own interior? I could have made it a little bit more avant-garde, but I also thought, “My children are living here and it’s not a museum.” I wanted the kids to feel comfortable at home. What do you love most about it? The moment I walk through the front door, I can just put my bags down and have an emotional and physical sense of ease – a feeling that I can just “let go”. For the décor, the items I like most are the artworks and sculptures. The furniture is there to complement and provide a background to all those things. If there was a fire (touch wood!) and your family, pets, computers and other critical things were rescued, what one item would you save next? Oh, goodness; that’s very difficult to answer. I guess I’d say the glass sculpture by Frederik Hart. There’s a beautiful story behind how I acquired it. When I was 22, I went into an art gallery in Los Angeles, and I saw this piece. It was super expensive, so I asked if
HOME & PROPERTY
I could buy it and pay in instalments. They said, “No, we don’t do that.” After I had moved to Singapore, I randomly walked into an art gallery near Raffles, and there stood the same sculpture! I asked if I could purchase it and pay in instalments, and they said yes! It took me maybe six months to pay for it in full. That’s what I would save in a fire. There’s an interesting blend of eclectic storytelling in the design, yet it still feels homely. Let’s start with your kitchen; tell us about the design there. I wanted a “working kitchen” because I love cooking. We eat mostly outside in the garden, though I like to use our kitchen table when it’s raining heavily. We also use the table to lay out a buffet. So it’s almost like a professional type of kitchen, where I can see everything and find whatever I need. Your dining roomhas an elegant feel with carefully selected statement pieces, and a grand circular table. What did you imagine for this room? I was keen for the dining room to have more of an Asian feel – even the wallpaper has an Asian-inspired pattern, though there is also artwork here by Italian, Australian and Iranian artists. I have items that are reminiscent of travelling. For example, the long pipe I bought when I climbed Mount Everest. Those pipes are used to send signals and communicate with people on other mountain peaks.
When I walked into your living room, I felt like a kid in a candy store! There are so many incredible items in this space. Do you spend much time here? Let me share what happens on a typical weekend. I spend time with my dogs during the day; so, they are my priority. Then, in the evening, the dogs are out of the house, and I shift my focus to my cat. So my cat and I will relax in the living area. Sometimes, if I want to read a book in the afternoon, I’ll come to the living room and leave the dogs outside, so my cat can come in. It’s like a dance between the animals and me. Where do you source your furniture from? Most of my furniture is custom-made or imported from overseas. For example, the circular dining table I had made in Indonesia. My kitchen table was imported from the Philippines. My sofa is from XTRA and the fabric from Bode Fabrics, and my outdoor furniture is from Dedon XTRA. I also have some vintage furniture that came with me from the US. Since my style is eclectic, I have quite a few go-to furniture stores that I like, including Space, XTRA and W Atelier. Tell us about the striking mobile in your living room? I’ve always wanted to install a floating mobile at home. This piece is by a French artist who specialises in mobile installations. But not many people understand the beauty of such a piece – many don’t see it as an artwork. Your bedroom opens out to a balcony facing lush greenery. What do you love about this space? I’m ever so fortunate to wake up to this incredible view of nature every morning. It’s like a canvas of greenery, so I rarely close my balcony doors. The décor in here is a real mix: feminine, Asian, European, and even an influence from my American journey. Asia for me is like a big backyard. When you appreciate the intrinsic intricacies of each and every ethnicity and nationality, it’s a very exciting place to be. I love Singapore because this is where I became myself, and experienced a great personal discovery process. What do you love about Singapore and the region?
HOME & PROPERTY
I really believe a home deserves the space to express its own vibe
HOME & PROPERTY
Favourite restaurant: Solo for Italian and Mi Casa for Spanish
Favourite place for coffee: I love my local kopitiam!
Favourite hairdresser: Sybil and James at Kim Robinson (I’ve used them for 15 years) Favourite touristy thing to do: Visit all the beautiful nature reserves
Favourite place for breakfast: Carrot Sticks & Cravings
Favourite place for cocktails: Atlas Bar for its ambience and for being surrounded by art sculptures Best hike: Mount Everest, but for now I’ll settle for Bukit Batok! Favourite clothing brand: Dries Van Noten, and Inès de la Fressange (a collaboration between French designers and Muji)
HOME & PROPERTY
Live the Island
Travel may be tricky right now, but the resort-feel pieces from this Singapore store can take you to places, no passport required.
BY JO UPCRAFT
N o travel? No problem! Bring the holiday vibe to your home, thanks to Island Living by Cocoon . Close your eyes and cosy up on the brand’s Aliki Daybed and you could be forgiven for thinking you’re horizontal under the hot sun in the Gili Islands. Kick back in the Bungalow Armchair and the feel is not dissimilar to taking time out on a balcony in Nusa Dua. (Just don’t get sunscreen on the cushions!) Island Living is a one-stop-shop in Singapore for tropical and elegant pieces with that bohemian and beachy aesthetic somany of us aremissing right now. As well as stand-out signature furniture, you’ll find sustainable rattan and teak wood, hard- carved artefacts, whitewashed surfaces, luxurious textiles and darling finishing touches that prompt the question, “Oooh, where did you find that?”
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Laid-back rustic looks It was the difficulty of sourcing unique homeware that led Australian expats Karin Rysgaard and Denise Vrontas to launch Island Living in February 2019. “There were a lot of mass-produced, super-expensive and lovely but sleek home goods that were not really our style,” explains Denise, who moved to Singapore seven years ago. “We felt there was a gap in the market for affordable pieces offering organic textures, natural lines and a laid-back rustic look that suits where we live geographically.” Setting out to create a brand that is affordable, on-trend, ever-changing and accessible, the duo looked to vacay destinations such as Indonesia and Vietnam for inspiration and stock. “Pretty much all of our merchandise is handmade, so no two products are the same, from our Canggu pottery vases, to the Byron Bay baskets, and the wooden Kenyan bowls and spoons,” adds Karin, an expat here for 16 years. The pair were introduced by a mutual friend who had heard them both fantasising about launching a homeware company. Karin’s background in interior design and styling and Denise’s experience in PR and digital marketing made for a dream team. What began two years ago as a small e-commerce website and an 800-square-foot store is today a stylish online shop and stunning showroom of 2,500 square feet (plus much more for storage for new items that arrive on a continual basis).
Community spirit While COVID-19 caused disruption everywhere, it gave Island Living the opportunity to become even more community-driven. “We were lucky to make great contacts with suppliers around the globe prior to the pandemic, so we continued working together throughout 2020 despite not being able to travel,” Karin says. “Our larger suppliers introduced us to small local enterprises who were suffering, so now we support them, too. It makes our merchandise even more eclectic and creates a wonderful sense of community spirit.” The company has also thrived thanks to the new trend for home redecoration and stay-at-home projects. “People are definitely investing in making their homes more comfortable and enjoyable,” shares Denise. Island Living’s Havana Bed in teak and rattan is a hot-cake right now, along with decorative features such as trays, lanterns, vases and candles. “Updating your home with details like a linen palm tree tea towel provides an instant pick-me-up.” Unable to source for products directly, Karin and Denise currently look to international brands, Instagram and Pinterest to keep their fingers on the pulse. Clearly loving the journey together, when they’re not in their showroom or working behind the scenes, you’ll find them at Luke’s or Butcher Boy, perhaps with a glass of fizz in hand, discussing ideas and planning prospective escapes to Bali and Hanoi. Until we can all dust off our passports, you know where to go … People are definitely investing in making their homes more comfortable and enjoyable.
Browse the online shop at islandliving.sg, or visit the showroom at #02-05 Henry Design Centre, 5 Eunos Avenue 8A.
HOME & PROPERTY
I f the pandemic has got you channe l l ing a l l your s tyl i sh creativity into your own four walls rather than your own (sad) wardrobe, you’ll want to know about the home décor trend of bone- inlay and mother-of-pearl furniture. Boho, intricate and ever-so-chic, it’s an interior look that’s experiencing a renaissance right now. The best part? It never goes out of fashion (unlike those heels you bought in an online shopping frenzy after Christmas…). Originating from India, bone-inlay and mother-of-pearl inlay are ancient decorative techniques that involve embedding delicate fragments of bone or shell onto furniture and home accessories. Josephine Blunck has been obsessed with it since she was a little girl growing up in Australia. “Every year, my family would go to Palm Beach in Sydney and visit a store with black leaf-pattered bone-inlay furniture,” she recalls. “I was transfixed by the beauty; the iridescent sheen of the finish, the silkiness of the touch. It made me feel happy inside.” Inspo
BY JO UPCRAFT
Bone-inlay and mother- of-pearl furniture bring a special touch to any home.Original trail blazer JOSEPHINE BLUNCK of Hacienda Blue reveals why April is the best time to try it (Hint: it’s a sale!)
HOME & PROPERTY
So happy, in fact, that when Josephine moved to Singapore 13 years ago, she started her own company, Hacienda Blue, selling exquisite bone-inlay and mother- of-pearl pieces. “Back then it was a very niche market,” she says, “no one else was selling such items here. I spent my time travelling to small, family-owned workshops in Rajasthan, commissioning meticulously designed furniture and objects d’art to local artisans.” Creating a masterpiece A decade on, Hacienda Blue consists of one retail store on Woking Road and an e-commerce website, and Josephine is the original trailblazer for the bone-inlay trade here on the Red Dot. She continues to work with the same families in Rajasthan and is more passionate than ever about supporting the art and local communities. “The traditional craftsmanship involved in bone-inlay and mother-of-pearl furniture is painstaking,” she says. “It begins with cutting and delicately shaping bone or shell fragments, filling the space between each fragment with a coloured resin, and then sanding and waxing for a smooth finish. On average, it takes a month to produce a masterpiece.”
to add to their collections. While inlay furniture is available through other stores, many return for our high quality of workmanship in the inlay designs and functionality. And, while we update stock regularly, it also provides us with the opportunity to reveal new interior ideas through our merchandise,” explains Josephine. Furniture can be custom-made, and no shape, dimension or design is out of the question. This year, Josephine reveals that “earthy and neutral tones such as sage greens and soulful blues” are proving popular. She also suggests we’ll be seeing more “modern geometric or leaf styles”. No matter whether you go big or small, your bone-inlay piece will become indisputably special. We’ll see you in the queue.
When you manage to get your hands on one of these masterpieces, it’s unlikely you’ll ever let it go. “Due to the artisanal process, every item produced is completely unique with its own colour and pattern,” Josephine continues. “It becomes the ultimate home showstopper and covetable keepsake; something you’ll want to stay with you forever, no matter where you live.” Ideal for the Singapore environment, bone-inlay and mother-of-pearl pieces come with a gorgeously exotic and somewhat avant-garde quality that perfectly suits our tropical surroundings. Practical storage options like a tallboy and sideboards add dimension and texture to a room, while using it on décor such as mirrors or picture frames delivers a touch of class. April sale Being at the forefront of the trend, every April, Hacienda Blue carries out a month-long “Annual Pre-Order Custom- made Furniture Sale” with a 20 percent discount on bone-inlay and mother-of- pearl items. “It’s a time for us to introduce the style to new customers and give our cherished existing clients the chance
HaciendaBlue is located at 17Woking Road, #02-04 (opposite Tanglin Trust School). It’s open Monday to Friday from 10am to 2pm and weekends by appointment (9866 1024). Discover more about the annual April sale at haciendablue.com.
HOME & PROPERTY
We hear from four readers onwhere they found the craftsmen to help create and customise furniture that was “just right!”
Alterick and Jacinda Pearson, American
blue colour that complements the view and surroundings of our high-rise condo. All in all, we loved the final product. The turnaround time was swift and the team’s input really helped to fine-tune what we had in mind. My advice would be to know what you want and be open to suggestions from the experts; they are there to guide you and to perfect your idea. Trust them and empower them to get you to your ultimate goal!
When moving to Singapore, one of the items we were on the hunt for was a custom-built headboard – specifically one that was diamond tufted in style and tall enough to give us ample back support when sitting upright. I had previously worked at a custom furniture store in Seattle before moving to Singapore and was very familiar with the process and the work that it entailed to get it right. I was determined to find the right craftsmen to bring our vision to life! Our friendly neighbours pointed us in the direction of WTP The Furniture Company, and we were pleasantly surprised with the entire process. Naazli and Jacinda’s input on the final product was incredibly helpful; Jacinda suggested including the wings, which we love, and Naazli discouraged us from including studs, which we’re grateful for! Between us, we chose a gorgeous sky
WTP The Furniture Company 3 Kung Chong Road 6235 2760 | wtpstyle.com
HOME & PROPERTY
Benjamin Tan, Singaporean
My wife and I were looking to refresh our interior, but didn’t want to go through an interior design firm or undergo an extensive renovation. We were also hoping for a more “hands-off” approach, where I could comfortably rely on the expertise and style sense of an expert! So I did some research online for home styling services and came across Arete Culture. Their portfolio suited our style and they had a proven track record of glowing testimonials that put us at ease. We ended up refurbishing most of our home over a period of four weeks, with a mix of ready-made and custom-built pieces. Caroline and the team did a great job in recommending suitable layouts and pieces for each area of the house, down to the finishing touches like decorative I’ve always enjoyed doing jigsaws – even well before the pandemic puzzle craze kicked in! Often completing five to six puzzles a year, I find it very therapeutic to have a puzzle ongoing that I can just add a couple of pieces to each day. When my children were born, I gave up the hobby – my free time was limited and I knew the puzzles wouldn’t stay intact on the table for very long. But now that my kids are growing up and the world has slowed down a little, my hobby is back in full force! So I began my hunt for the perfect table – something high enough that meant my puzzles would lay undisturbed and that I could add to while standing. I first heard of Woody Antique a while back when I was on the hunt for antiques. I’ve since bought several pieces from them and have been a satisfied customer for years, but this was the first time I had requested a custom-made piece. I wanted a table that would meet my exact height requirements but would also fit in with the other furniture I had bought from them. Rachael Flynn, Australian
pieces and paintings. She transformed our house into a home we could look forward to returning to! The process was easy and pleasant; we were never pushed into buying anything and the prices were fair and reasonable. What’s more, their after-sales support was fantastic; we had a small incident with a stain on one of our new dining chairs that they were quick to help fix by putting us in touch with a fabric cleaning company. They also went out of their way to assist us with small things after the project and even sent us a nice housewarming gift!
Arete Culture 315 Outram Rd, #06-01 Tan Boon Liat Building 9640 3829 | areteculture.com
The process was swift and Wei Chin was incredibly helpful; we settled on an elm wood base with a distressed black finish and hand-painted drawers that would complement the similar pieces I had in my home. When the final product arrived, it was exactly what I had in mind! Whether it’s one-of-a-kind antiques you’re after or custom-made pieces like mine, I couldn’t recommend them more!
Woody Antique House 13 Dempsey Road, #01-05 6471 1770 | woodyantique.com
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