OCT 2021






EDITOR’SNOTE We know things have changed. But how much they’ve changed, we won’t know for a while. The results from our Reader Survey are in, and we’re doing a direct comparison with questions we posed in 2019. That will give us an idea of changes in salaries, rentals and general reader demographics – so keep a lookout for those online. This month, we talk to a “youngie” about his journey towards being an F1 racer. And we follow an inspirational bike ride to raise money for cancer research after a couple lost their little girl to leukaemia. Also, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month; we have features on that topic too. In the midst of a pandemic, it can be easy to forget that cancer and flu and are still the main killers. According to the MOH, in 2019, over 28 percent of deaths in Singapore were from cancer and 21 percent from pneumonia. The upshot of this is that general health should be a priority at all times. And, that includes our teeth – which is why we’ve also got a couple of dental articles for you to check out in this issue. On to happier things now, and if you love shophouses as much as me, you’ll enjoy this month’s visit to a London-born expat’s home in Joo Chiat. It’s arty and lovely, and it ties in well with our art theme. There are bespoke jewellers and recommendations for wrinkly eyes too! For future travel planning, we check out a few of Southeast Asia’s most impressive caves to visit, startingwith a giant one in Sarawak – it looks amazing! And for carnivores, there’s a roundup of great steakhouses and a couple of butchers to try. Plus a groovy new bar!

We’re not in an ideal situation, but let’s make the most of it!

REBECCA BISSET Editor-in-Chief

I think the Singapore shophouses are so special!





CONTACT US Call or WhatsApp: +65 9112 0652

General Enquiries: info@expatliving.sg Advertising Sales: sales@expatliving.sg Subscription: subscription@expatliving.sg Production: production@expatliving.sg Editorial & Media Releases: editorial@expatliving.sg Calendar of Events: calendar@expatliving.sg Events: events@expatliving.sg Websites: expatliving.sg | expatliving.hk Printed by Times Printers Pte Ltd (timesprinters.com) Published by Expat Living Publications Pte Ltd 36 Carpenter Street, #02-01 Carpenter Haus, Singapore 059915

Chloé Batterson ’ s home; photographed by Delon Ho





36 Inside a gorgeous

What’s on in Singapore Subscribe and join us at an event or online workshop! Letters to the editor


Shophouse in Joo Chiat



New furniture finds and store updates Home Showcase: A wonderful Joo Chiat shophouse One-of-a-kind antiques at Just Anthony Peranakan tiles and the tales they tell




46 Buying Guide: Beautiful and useful storage ideas 52 Furniture that’s striking and sustainable too 54 Buying Guide: Something stylish for the wall 60 Finding the right antique for your home 62 A trailing spouse starts a global business 64 Street Talk: Living in Keppel Bay

LIFE & FAMILY 69 The latest news for parents and kids in Singapore

Noticeboard: Baby announcements and pets for adoption Making daily shopping easier for helpers Why education drew this headmaster in 46 Vintage and




178 Helping a

family through loss and hope

Meet some top-scoring IB students The Singapore Pages: Explore the island!


contemporary storage options


What to watch and read this month Preschools who’ve aced their outdoor play areas An interview with a Formula 1 star of the future Get your photos sorted, stored and backed up!








WINE & DINE 99 Foodie news, restaurant updates and more 104 Steakhouses and butchers for quality cuts 110 Recipe Corner: Three new dishes to try 114 We review a new Duxton drinks spot TRAVEL 118 Trip-planning inspiration and hotel news 120 Staycation Special: Great ideas for a weekend “away” 126 The colossal caves of Mulu, Malaysia

104 Don’t miss this, meat lovers!

120 Have a night or weekend away from home



132 The latest in fashion news



132 Fashion news and advice 134 Bespoke jewellers who can help make a masterpiece 138 Ten questions with fitness influencer Brie Benfell 140 The best neckline for your body shape 143 New and notable beauty products 146 Brow and lash treatments to try 148 Beauty treatments for your eyes 152 Tried & Tested: We give eye creams a go 154 A stylist shares some hair secrets 156 The skinny on skinimalism 158 Tried & Tested: Our favourite foundations HEALTH & FITNESS 161 Medical updates and health tips from experts 166 Four common running injuries 168 Singapore’s newest personal training gym 170 You can be forty-plus and fabulous! 172 Steps for getting started in triathlon 173 How Scotland inspired this new dental clinic 174 Prioritising your teeth in the pandemic 176 Tackling autoimmune diseases 178 An epic bike ride in memory of Artemis 180 Can implants make you ill? 182 Four breast cancer myths, busted

134 Jewellery: Get it made especially for you – or her!

REGULARS 186 How well can you do in our Puzzle Pages? 188 Find what’s in the stars in our October horoscopes 190 Important contacts and this month’s advertisers 192 Parting Shot: Why silence is precious

158 Our favourite hydrating potions!





The Front Row 2021 (UNTIL 31 OCTOBER)


Something New Must Turn Up expectations and reciprocation – and how the status and interpretation of exchange may change over time. Ngee Ann Kongsi Concourse Gallery of the National Gallery. singaporeartmuseum.sg Billed as “Singapore’s definitive virtual fashion festival”, this year’s free-to-view festival will feature the latest designs from 10 home-grown brands, eight regional and international labels, and special collaborations with home-grown jewellery brand Marilyn Tan Jewellery, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and the Miss Universe Singapore 2021 competition. The key theme is conscious consumption, seen in the more responsible, inclusive and seasonless collections presented. Rub shoulders with industry heavyweights and fashion creatives, gain styling tips in workshops and participate in interactive exhibitions in one virtual space at thefrontrow.style . Halloween Horror Nights Exhibition (UNTIL 7 NOVEMBER) 10 years since launching its Halloween Horror Nights, Universal Studios Singapore will showcase everything that made it a hit. Horror fans will get to revisit some of the most sought-after creepy zones and a line-up of the scariest icons of the past nine years. Advanced booking is required to enter the exhibition and it’s not recommended for those under the age of 16. rwsentosa.com The Gift (UNTIL 7 NOVEMBER) This exhibition presented by the Singapore Art Museum focuses on the act of gifting. Featuring artworks and historical materials from the collections of SAM and partner institutions in Indonesia, Thailand and Germany, The Gift investigates the nature of exchanges – of their gesture, value,


Singapore Garden Festival Horticulture Show (9 TO 31 OCTOBER) Launched in 2019, the SGF Hort Show is organised by the National Parks Board to allow visitors to reconnect with plants, gardens and horticulture. The hybrid programme will comprise on-site displays at the Singapore Botanic Gardens from 9 to 17 October and at Jurong Lake Gardens from 23 to 31 October, plus virtual activities including talks, workshops and an e-marketplace. The annual Botanic Gardens Heritage Festival will be held in conjunction with this event, with the latter’s Horticultural Competition held at the Gardens’ Plant House. nparks.gov.sg/ singaporegardenfestival

This is the first fashion exhibition at the Asian Civilisations Museum, featuring cross-cultural works and fashion-forward ideas by Singapore designers. One section is ACM x TaFF, which showcases ensembles by finalists of fashion design competition, Singapore Stories 2020. The second section is ACM x LASALLE, with works by eight practicing local designers. Also available are student curator tours, interactive activities and workshops focusing on fashion, craft and design – available on-site and online. nhb.gov.sg/acm MSIG Biodiversity Mission 2021 (UNTIL 31 DECEMBER) Learn about Singapore’s rich biodiversity as you complete missions in this interactive virtual challenge. You can walk, jog or run the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve Trail or the Siloso Trail. Collect points as you go through virtual checkpoints and complete biodiversity quizzes. There’s also a 60-minute challenge that unlocks a custom and shareable augmented reality MSIG Biodiversity Protector face filter. Plus, the top 10 scorers for each trail receive a $50 sports voucher! It’s free to join on the District app. Go to bit.ly/msigbodiversity for info and registration.




Antony Gormley: National Gallery Exhibition (ONGOING) Antony Gormley is renowned for his artworks exploring the relationship between the human body and space. His works use a variety of forms and materials, and provoke questions about how humans relate to nature and the cosmos. Horizon Field Singapore is Gormley’s new commission at the Ng Teng Fong Roof Garden Gallery, where visitors can walk through a matrix of aluminium rings, enabling them to co-create the experience. The installation is complemented by three sculptures presenting defining aspects of Gormley’s study of the human body. nationalgallery.sg Orchestral Manoeuvres: See Sound. Feel Sound. Be Sound. (ONGOING) This exhibition features 32 artists and composers from eight countries who explore sound through sculpture, installation and music. The exhibition is divided into nine chapters, each with a specific theme – Resonance, Performing Objects, Sounds Around, Writing Sound, Inner Voice, Unheard, Choral, Playlist, Auto-Tune – that explore various aspects of creating, performing and enjoying sound. Tickets: $12 to $19. marinabaysands.com/museum/ exhibitions/orchestral-manoeuvres.html

Antony Gormley

Weaving Workshops (11, 12, 23 OCTOBER) Organised by the YWCA, these 2.5-hour workshops ($120) teach you how to weave a unique textile piece on a SAORI loom – and you get to take home your own creation. Participation fees go towards providing training and flexible income to back-to-work mothers from disadvantaged backgrounds. Call 6223 1127 to book a slot: 2.30pm-5pm on 11 and 12 October, 9.30am-midday on 23 October. Special offer! EL readers can enjoy a special rate of $100. For private group bookings, email debralow@ywca.org.sg for availability. ywca.org.sg/ywca-weaving-programme- first-official-workshop Retirement in the New Normal (28 OCTOBER) If you think your biggest challenge in the new normal is where you will retire, think again! In this webinar (5-6pm), AAM’s Director of Global Wealth Structuring, Ian Black, will review the changes the pandemic has brought to the global retirement landscape. He will also discuss the factors you’ll need to consider when deciding where and when to retire and how cash- flow modelling can help ensure you can enjoy your retirement with peace of mind. Write to marketing@aam-advisory.com to reserve your spot.

Singapore Writers Festival 2021 (5 TO 14 NOVEMBER) The SWF is back with its 24th edition, and this year’s hybrid festival explores the theme of “guilty pleasures”. Authors and audiences can delve into the complicated relationships between guilt and pleasure and connect with others who share the same literary loves. The line-up features authors, writers and thinkers from different facets of the literary sphere. They include children’s horror storywriter RL Stine, Queer Eye host and bestselling author Tan France, TS Eliot Prize-winning poet Ocean Vuong, and host of MasterChef Singapore Bjorn Shen, among others. Events happen at the Arts House as well as online. singaporewritersfestival.com




Don’tmissourmonthly events! Register at expatliving.sg/ELevents


with Elizabeth Taylor Founder of Digital Direction ChristmasCampaignPlanning The InstagramSeries

19 OCT 5pm 8 OCT 15 OCT 10am 27 OCT 10am 22 OCT 10am

with Phoebe Yeo Senior financial consultant at CRCE Financial Literacy forWomen

What you need to know about Self Harm,Depression &Suicide

with Dr Sanveen Kang of Psych Connect

Skin PrickTest What to know andwhat to expect

with Dr Lim Chun Siong International Medical Clinic

Things to consider when choosing a Kindergarten

with Dr Colleen Drisner Primary Principal, CIS Lakeside campus

28 & 29 OCT 10am

Lampshade Making Masterclass

with the Lampshade House




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OCT 2021

October 2021 Issue 231 S$6.90 MCI (P) 076/02/2021 ART • BESPOKE JEWELLERY • STEAKHOUSES






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27 OCTOBER2021


BEST LETTER We want to hear fromyou! Send us your thoughts on the magazine, or on any subject under the sun.

The writer of our best letter receives a Bamboo Candle and Diffuser set, worth $168 from Temple Candles ( templecandles.com ).

Goodbye to SG and EL Dear Team, after 14 wonderful years, I’ve said a very sad farewell to Singapore and moved to Kobe in Japan. Thanks so much to Rebecca and Verne and the rest of the amazing team at EL for providing such a fabulous resource for our expat community and for giving me the opportunity to work with such a talented team. The magazine was invaluable when I was settling into Singapore and has gone from strength to strength over the years. Right up until I left, I still loved receiving my copy every month and read it from cover to cover. Wishing the Expat Living team a great year ahead. Sayonara! Karen Lucas Ed: Thanks, Karen; we’ve looked forward to reading your travel stories in the past – maybe we can get one from Kobe? We will send you the monthly e-mag so you can keep an eye on things back here too! Happy Subscriber I’ve certainly enjoyed reading the last three issues of Expat Living in my serviced apartment, and I look forward to getting the subscription to my new home! Ivanka

Slice of Life I loved the feature in your July issue on Al Qaeda’s longest- held captive. In these gloomy times, the slice-of-life piece was really uplifting; truly, we all are stronger and more capable than what we normally think of ourselves. And it was so different from the usual staples of food, homes, schools, travel



Longest-held Al Qaeda’s

Daily life Al Qaeda would move their positions every two weeks or so – Stephen was held in around 150 camps across the Sahara Desert. They were always in the middle of nowhere, far from civilisation, and completely off the grid. During these moves, Stephen would be blindfolded, never knowing where he was going or whether he’d arrive alive. He would be made to sit with little or no movements for days and weeks at a stretch; this led to extreme pain in his joints, so that he couldn’t pick up a bottle of water or sit cross-legged. In the end “standing was better than sitting” and “walking was better than standing”. The desert conditions were harsh. The blazing sun would blister his skin, and the extreme winters were bitterly cold. He lived through sandstorms and thunderstorms, and would curl up and grit his teeth until they passed. Food and water shortages were frequent. He would drink water from large fuel drums that hadn’t been cleaned properly. “There was always a residue of diesel on the surface that gave me incredible headaches,” he says. “I realised quite early on that the impact of mental anxiety is far greater than physical pain.” Survival and acceptance When arriving in a new camp, the captives would try and build their new “home” in whatever patch they were allocated. If there was a tree, they would throw a blanket over the branches to create a shaded area. Sometimes, they were lucky enough to build a hut using sticks and grass. In 2013, Stephen was “on the brink of insanity”. Malnourished and with aching joints and painful eyes, he would listen to his heartbeat to remind himself that he was still alive. He credits his sense of purpose and attitude for his survival. At one stage, he decided to convert to Islam to understand his captives at a deeper level. This conversion allowed him to sit in a circle with the Al Qaeda men and create a dialogue. He learned how to speak, read and write in Arabic, and could recite more than 30 prayers.

I recently heard Stephen speak to a Singapore audience about his six years held in captivity, while getting an insight into one of the world’s most feared terrorist organisations. Despite living through a nightmare, his gritty story inspires us to “reframe” our attitude, as he proves that we can endure more than we think. A long journey home Stephen’s nightmare began in 2011 when he and his wife were relocating from London to Johannesburg. He had planned to motorbike his way back to South Africa from the UK while his wife took a flight. Little did he know that he wouldn’t see her or his family for the next six years. One fateful day in Timbuktu, Mali, Stephen was in a restaurant when he and a few other hostages were taken captive by Al Qaeda. They were driven for 15 hours into the desert, where they set up camp away from civilisation and aerial surveillance. Describing the journey as “the greatest chess game of my life”, for the next six years, he was never far from death. Negotiations and videos His captors embarked on long, protracted negotiations for Stephen’s release. They varied their ransom demands, initially asking for over 11 million dollars. Though no ransom was apparently paid, Al Qaeda played a waiting game, holding out for negotiations or a prisoner or cash exchange. Their objective was to ensure their prisoners didn’t escape and were not found. They would also go to great lengths to hide their positions from Western surveillance, including burying oil drums, water and cars. To encourage (or provoke) ransoms to be paid, the captives would regularly have to film “proof of life” videos. Stephen filmed around 20 of these, in which he was made to wear pink/orange captive uniforms while Al Qaeda members stood behind himwith large guns. The objective was to humiliate the captives, though Stephen was just relieved they weren’t virtual public executions.

It’s our attitude that separates us and determines how we cope – some people give up too easily! To avoid falling into self-sabotaging habits, he’d also write what he was inspired by and grateful for onto a milk carton. This helped him stay positive with big-picture thinking during the darker days. There were even some “funny” moments that Stephen can recount, which paradoxically helped himmentally survive his ordeal. Re-joining the world At age 42, six years after he was snatched from civilisation, Stephen was randomly released from captivity. Re-joining “real life”, he faced initial anxiety and triggers, as well as getting used to a world that now had Uber and Airbnb. Sadly, his mother passed away just two months before his release. Reflecting on her passing, he says, “She was an amazing lady and I can imagine the difficulties she went through.” Despite this, he doesn’t want to harbour resentment towards his captors. “I will forgive; I will move on.” The parting words he gave to listeners in Singapore was to encourage us to get in touch with ourselves and find out what is important to us. Have patience and have gratitude, he suggested, before reminding us how strong and capable we all actually are. helped him maintain a connection to the outside world.

He also taught his captors French, mathematics and geography; he felt that, without their guns, Al Qaeda were also ordinary humans at heart. Health and attitude Remaining physically strong became a priority. Stephen and his fellow captives devised exercise routines to keep fit and lift spirits. So they would run in circles for an hour or do a “bootcamp” routine to keep their joints moving and their hearts from breaking. On two occasions, he developed large painful sores on his back. One of those times, he asked a fellow captive to cut out the rotting flesh using a razor blade and antiseptic. “Five minutes of pain was so much better than three or four months of mental anguish,” he says. Such experiences taught him how strong humans actually are. “Sometimes we need to grit our teeth and push through, because we are capable and we can achieve.” Indeed, Stephen wanted to exit the desert a changed, stronger and more positive human; so he tried to use the time to “grow”. “It’s our attitude that separates us and determines how we cope. Some people give up too easily.” “You are your attitude,” he continues. “What we see and believe about a situation is our attitude and thus our reality”. Stephen would visualise talking to his wife to keep the flame of hope burning. He’d wrap his scarf between his fingers to imagine holding her hand. These fantasies


South African STEPHEN MCGOWN holds the undesirable record for being Al Qaeda’s

longest-held prisoner. His astonishing story of mental strength, grit and physical resilience sheds light on the endurance of the human spirit.

Six Years With Al Qaeda: The Stephen McGown Story is available on Amazon.





and fashion. Until you featured it, I hadn’t known about the book Six Years with Al Qaeda ; I’ve now finished reading it and I loved it. Thanks to the editorial team for presenting this different type of topic; I look forward to more of these value-adds from Expat Living and hope this story goes on! Soumita Bhattacharya Ed: Wasn’t it a great story? We’re always on the lookout for inspiring topics – and keep an eye on our monthly “On The Page” feature for more books too.

Fort Canning Walk We are relatively new to Singapore and live at the base of Fort Canning Park. I’m interested to write about some of the fascinating history and things to see – from Raffles House to the graves in the wall, to the spices in the Spice Garden. Let me know if I can contribute, and congratulations on a really informative magazine! Ceri P

Ed: Yes, you can contribute – and you have! Thanks, Ceri; we look forward to sharing your Fort Canning story with readers in the November issue.

Ed: Glad you’re enjoying it!

Email us at info@expatliving.sg

29 OCTOBER2021


60 Antique Advice:

Where to start your search

China Collection

36 Home Showcase: A wonderful old Joo Chiat shophouse

46 Buying Guide: Beautiful and useful storage ideas

64 Street Talk: What it’s like living in Keppel Bay



Autumnal Vibes Looking to give your home a simple but stylish refresh this season? Altfield Interiors has its newest collection of materials from international brands such as Samuel &Sons andWeitzner (pictured is the latter brand’s Central Park collection for Autumn 2021). Re-covering cushions or updating existing pieces with a touch of trimming is a really simple but effective way to bring warmth and texture to your space. Visit the Altfield showroom at #07-10 Central Mall Office Tower, 1 Magazine Road , or go to altfield.com.hk to get some stylish inspiration.

Retreat from the hustle and bustle of Orchard Road in one of the 126 newly refurbished apartments at the Pan Pacific Serviced Suites Orchard. With views over the city’s skyline, the property’s new look includes a vertical garden concept – four outdoor Sky Gardens across various floors – bringing a welcome piece of nature into the urban locale. Guests will find state-of-the-art health and wellness facilities, including a hydro-therapeutic spa, ionised swimming pool and hydro-rider aqua fitness equipment. Residents will also benefit from having a 24-hour personal assistant on call. The property is located at 96 Somerset Road ; visit panpacific.co/ppss-orchard to find out more.

Global Gong Luxury furniture and homewares designer brand Bo Concept has won the “best luxury furniture andhomeware in theworld” gong at the Luxury Lifestyle Awards. The awards panel highlighted the brand’s dedication to high- end design and its focus on corporate social responsibility and sustainability. Check out its award-winning style at #04- 01/02/03 Paragon Shopping Centre, 290 Orchard Road .




Kitchen Costs If you’re eyeing up a kitchen renovation but don’t have a clue about a starting budget, comparethemarket.com.au has revealed the countries where it’s most affordable to renovate. Singapore is the fifth cheapest, where locals spend US$7,469 on the average kitchen makeover. This represents 16 percent of the average annual income (data takes into account the average cost of the renovation, as well as the cost as a percentage of average annual income in 15 countries). Most affordable is Hong Kong, and least is Denmark.

Dempsey Debut Ever fancied some Swarovski crystals on your silk bedding or loungewear? Not a problem at this new luxury bespoke home and lifestyle brand, Silky Miracle, which has just opened in Dempsey Hill. Clients are able to customise their pieces across its range of luxury bedding and loungewear available. The collection, crafted in top quality raw silk, is handmade by expert craftsmen. Head to 13 Dempsey Road, #01-03 to view the luxe range.

Small design changes that make a big impact!

Good interior design isn’t just about how a space looks, but how it makes you feel. Sometimes, small changes are all you need to feel differently about a space! Here are five easy things you can try this weekend. #1 Decorate your walls with something you love. Add a mirror or artwork, or even design an accent wall with wallpaper. #2 Budget-conscious? Black-and-white family photos in the hallway can create an inexpensive, bold and personal statement. #3 Scents can lift your mood entirely. Add a scented reed diffuser or candle to your entryway or bathroom to evoke a spa-like experience. #4 Only have overhead lighting? Bring in a table or floor lamp for a gentle glow at night. If you have an outdoor balcony, consider hurricane lanterns wi th electr ic candles – they’ re romantic and child-friendly!

Arete Culture’s founder and creative director CAROLINE CHIN GEYLER shares her professional tips on home design and décor.

#5 Add a tray, ensuring it’s a different material from your tabletop. This small change not only neatens mess but also adds texture and visual interest.

Arete Culture | 20 Depot Lane #01-01/02 | 9640 3829 | areteculture.com




One of Singapore’s first heritage towns, Joo Chiat has long been celebrated for its old-world charm and historic architecture. An enclave of famous eateries, eclectic boutiques and colourful rows of traditional Peranakan shophouses, this neighbourhood is, for many visitors, a case of love at first sight. So it was for London-born CHLOÉ BATTESON one sunny afternoon in November 2018. On the hunt for a pretty postcode, Chloé had arranged a viewing at one of these very shophouses in the hope of finding a new home. As she arrived and peered through a dusky blue gate, awaiting the agent’s arrival, her mind was already made up. She knew right then that she had found “the one”. We dropped in for a peek ourselves, to find out how Chloé has made it a home away from home. Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey here. Originally from London, I moved to Singapore with my job five years ago with London real estate agent Johns&Co. This has been my first stint living abroad – it’s been wonderful and certainly won’t be my last! Property and design is something that I’m truly passionate about and enjoy putting into practice inmy own space. I’ve recently taken this a step further and amnow studying Interior Design. The dream is to one day design for bars and restaurants.

A green thumb meets vintage flair in this Everitt Road retreat.





Size of home: 1,600 square feet Location: Joo Chiat Who lives here: Chloé Batteson (@shophousegreen) and Singapore rescue cat Mimi

What kind of property were you looking for when you arrived? What were some non-negotiables? The number one priority for me was having outside space. I love to have a garden and sadly left behind a much-loved allotment in the UK. I knew I would need more than a balcony to support my plant addiction and be able to take advantage of the weather here. Secondly, having a property with character was very important to me. Not only are the heritage homes beautiful here, but I love to imagine the lives of the people that lived in them before me. Then, finally, location. I knew very little about the East Coast when I arrived, but once I discovered it, I knew it was perfect and I can’t imagine living anywhere else in Singapore. It’s actually changed a lot just in the time that I have been here; there are constantly new shops and restaurants opening. My first home in Singapore was a colonial bungalow on Kuo Chuan Avenue. It was my introduction to the East Coast and it was really special, with original Peranakan tiles and black and white shutters. Unfortunately, when the owners decided to renovate the entire street, I was unable to renew my lease, which I was gutted about at the time. We love your current shophouse! Tell us about your move here.

37 OCTOBER2021

By chance, months before I needed to find somewhere, I came across the listing for this shophouse. When I arrived, I instantly knew it was the one for me. Admittedly, the house is pretty big for one person, but I make the most of the entire space and have been incredibly lucky to have it during the pandemic. My previous kitchen was also very basic, so I was really excited about this huge kitchen space as I love to cook and to entertain! Do you know the history of the building? I believe it was built in the 1930s. It’s in a row of seven shophouses that were owned by the Peranakan community. To the best of my knowledge, the property is still very close to its original layout. How would you define your home style? My style is quite eclectic. If I had to define it, I would say “mid-century meets tropical modernism”, but I’m not limited by a specific look or style. I’m a collector at heart and for me it’s just about bringing together the things that I love and am drawn to. I particularly like to buy second-hand and vintage pieces and feel like my home is a real reflection of me and the many things that I’m passionate about. Where do you get your inspiration from? I find inspiration everywhere! Travel is of course a major source; I feel so lucky to have been able to visit several incredible places while living in Asia. Closer to home, it has to be the bars and restaurants; I’m obsessed with great F&B design and am constantly




taking pictures when out and about. And, of course, books and art are an endless source of inspiration. One day, I hope to have my own library and extensive art collection. What’s your favourite corner in the house and why? It would have to be my chair in the garden. It’s the perfect spot for my morning coffee or to curl up with a book and a gin and tonic in the evening. I have lots of birds visiting the garden and it’s such a lovely spot to sit and watch them. During the Circuit Breaker, when it was really quiet, hornbills would come and rest across the road just before sunset. It was an amazing sight.

39 OCTOBER2021


Where do you source your furniture and décor from? A lot of my favourite pieces come from Junkie’s Corner – a great place for vintage furniture. I have also bought some beautiful pieces from Journey East and Originals. I collect a lot when I travel; I really like to have memories around me of all of the places that I’ve been. I’ve also found a few gems on HotLotz, Carousell and even Gumtree, including my much- loved pink Smeg fridge! What three items would you save in a fire (god forbid!)? Presuming that Mimi has saved herself, it would have to be my two favourite pieces of art and my Malay men’s wedding outfit (a Junkie’s Corner treasure but sadly too delicate to wear). Favourite thing about Singapore and the region? Coming from London, I would have to say the weather and the tropical plants. I have the doors and the shutters open all day and I love to be outside. I knew very little about tropical plants when I moved here and now I’m hooked for life. I love to visit the Botanic Gardens and am really in love with the natural landscape of this part of the world. After now living here for five years, what would your advice to newcomers be? I think it would be to fully embrace living here and to not live with a temporary mindset. I only expected to be here for two years, but I threw myself into building a home and a life here. It has been such an incredible experience.





Cafés, Restaurants & Bars

Brawn & Brains (“my favourite spot for coffee!”) brawnandbrains.sg

The Cheese Shop cheeseshop.sg

Barbary Coast (“I love the maximalist interiors here and the cocktails are delicious too!”) barbarycoastsg.com Catfish (“a beautiful restaurant with attention to every detail”) catfish.sg TheAC (“for beautiful furniture and accessories”) theac.net Junkie’s Corner (“my favourite place to find one-off treasures!”) junkiescorner.com Tan Boon Liat Building (“a perfect starting place for interior shopping regardless of your style”) tanboonliat.com Gillman Barracks (“I love to visit the galleries here and really enjoy the Art After Dark events; I also discovered local artist Ben Loong here – his work is stunning and I hope to own a piece by him one day”) gillmanbarracks.com Gajah Gallery (“this gallery introduced me to the work of local artist Mahalashmi Kannappan and Indonesian artist Yunizar – both are also on my wishlist!”) gajahgallery.com Sifr Aromatics (“amazing candles, and I’m in love with the perfume oils here too”) sifr.sg Home Décor & Art

41 OCTOBER2021


There are many reasons why an antique might be distinctive – its provenance, for example, or the craftsmanship or patina. This individual character can add a real point of interest to your home. Here are some shopping ideas from Just Anthony to get you started.

From Longyan city in Fujian Province comes this antique three-tier carved cabinet. It has a beautiful original colour, paintings and brass handles, and is in very good condition. The carvings depict a variety of flowers and fruit as well as various curios, all within a border of butterflies and flowers. The paintings show auspicious symbols such as Buddha’s citron, fish, pomegranates, peaches, auspicious knots and peonies. “It’s rare to come across a cabinet like this that’s complete and in such good condition that we can leave all the colours and patina untouched and original,” says Just Anthony owner Danielle Lee.

An antique barber’s stool made of elm and pine from Shanxi, this piece is in great original condition, with a beautiful patina and original brass fittings.

This long black lacquered sideboard with gold painting from Shanxi Province is an unusual antique with a beautiful patina, finished with clear matte lacquer. The inside of the cabinet has many different inner compartments, with some of the original shelves replaced due to damage. There are original iron handles on the outside, and brass handles on the inside.




These late-19th-century double-width door panels from Zhejiang Province are a rare find nowadays. The framework and plain bottom panels are made of fir, while the latticework portion is made of elm wood. The middle carvings are made of camphor, and have very deep and lively representations of animals, flowers and curios. These pieces can make impressive wall decorations.

Square tables from Zhejiang Province are usually made of fir, though they can also come in cypress or pine wood and are often used as dining tables or desks.

The original hinges from this set of four window panels from Fujian Province have been removed and patched, with new hangers added on top. “The small section across the top has carvings combination,” says Danielle. “The panels across the bottom have carvings of magpies and cherry blossom; magpies are bearers of good news, and when combined with the cherry blossom, they also signify the arrival of springtime.” of phoenixes and peonies, an extremely auspicious

These round stools in elm wood are from China’s Shandong Province, and around 80 to 100 years old. The three-legged design is less common nowadays and, with a height of just over half a metre, they can be used as side tables or seating.

Just Anthony 379 Upper Paya Lebar Road 6283 4782 | justanthony.com

43 OCTOBER2021

We discover how the unassuming ceramic tile – including the Peranakan tile we’re all so familiar with in Singapore – marks its place in history. BY LEANDA RATHMELL

One of the oldest forms of decorative art, the ceramic tile can be dated as far back as 4000 BC. Historically found in ancient temples, monuments and places of worship, these vibrant and geometric shapes adorned buildings and floors from Mesopotamia to Egypt and the Roman Empire. Today, we rarely think twice about mass-produced tiles that embellish our buildings and bathrooms. But, like all forms of art, it’s a medium that delicately tells a tale of our past. This is why the owner of Peranakan Tile Gallery , VICTOR LIM, has dedicated most of his life to preserving a piece of Peranakan culture through his collection of antique tiles and heirlooms.

Also known as the Baba Nyonya, the Peranakans are descendants of Chinese traders who settled in parts of Southeast Asia as early as the 15th century and became a culturally syncretic minority of local and foreign influence. Elements of their colourful culture can be found not only in the food, architecture and vibrant textiles of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, but also in these delicate ornamental ceramic tiles. Luckily, some Peranakan tiles still adorn the streets and remaining shophouses of Singapore, most of which are now heritage-protected sites. As for those that have been lost in the drive for development, Victor and a handful of passionate individuals strive to keep their story alive. We paid Victor a visit at his Chinatown gallery, with its impressive collection of over 30,000 antique tiles, to find out more about this precious part of the Singapore story.




houses across the British Isles in the late 19th and early 20th century. They quickly gained popularity among the Chinese and Peranakan communities in Southeast Asia who regarded them as an emblem of wealth and affluence – particularly those with auspicious elements like fish, fruit or birds. Were all Peranakan tiles manufactured in England? No; theywere produced in other countries, too, including Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. In the 1920s, the machinery used in their manufacture was introduced in Japan to establish domestic manufacturing. The Japanese employed Chinese artists to draw auspicious elements like dragons, pomegranates, lotus flowers and peonies – these became very popular with the Asian market. How did you learn to identify the history of a tile? Most of my knowledge is self-taught. I collected and read a lot of books on the trade and manufacturing history of tiles and have learnt to recognise certain eras and manufacturers. There are a few telling characteristics, like the markings on the back and the quality of the material. How do you spot a fake? Original Peranakan tiles are expertly carved, coloured and glazed for durability. The production of these tiles ended around 1935 and many of the materials used in the process of creating and preserving the colour – like cobalt, copper or manganese – were discontinued or are no longer in use due to their toxic qualities. To the trained eye, it’s easy to spot a fake; though ceramic is still used as the base, motifs are now machine-printed and the materials used today don’t produce the same enduring result. What’s the most valuable tile in your collection? Our tiles range from 85 to 265 years old, with some being more rare than others. My favourites change all the time, especially when new ones come into the gallery. Our most valuable tiles, however, are those made by William De Morgan (19th century) and John Sadler (18th century). We hear you’re working on getting UNESCO recognition for these tiles. How is that going? Yes! We compiled and submitted the reports to the Forum University and Heritage of UNESCO, both in Paris and in Spain. No word from them yet but we’re hoping for good news in the near future. Can these tiles be purchased? Yes, many of our antique tiles are for sale. Like me, we have several visitors who love the thought of owning a piece of history – locals buy them as a nostalgic keepsake, while many foreigners buy them as a memento of their time in Singapore.

Tell us about yourself; when did your passion for antique tiles begin? I started collecting tiles in the 1970s, at the age of 19, before I began my national service. During that time, more and more houses were being demolished for urban development in Singapore. Of proud Indonesian-Peranakan descent myself, I felt the urge to preserve a piece of our history, so I began salvaging tiles from shophouses that were being knocked down. My story took a detour in the 1980s when I moved to America to continue my studies. From there, I enjoyed a wonderful career in the hospitality industry, but my passion always brought me back to my roots in Singapore. In 2011, I started my tile manufacturing company, Aster by Kyra, while continuing to salvage Peranakan tiles and other antiques across Singapore, Malaysia and even Thailand. Decorative ceramic tiles of this kind – known as encaustic tiles – were once only used in monasteries and places of worship. But they resurfaced during the Gothic Revival movement and gained huge popularity in the Victorian era. The Industrial Revolution fuelled their popularity and mass production meant private homes and commercial properties could now be adorned with these intricate colours and patterns. Prior to World War I, the tiles that came to Singapore were mostly from England. They tended to be variations of Art Nouveau majolica tiles that were commonly used for suburban What’s the history behind the tiles? How did they make their way to Singapore?

The Peranakan Tiles Gallery is located at 36 Temple Street. For more information, visit asterbykyra.sg or call 6684 8600.

45 OCTOBER2021


Probably the most important furniture for your home, after a bed and a sofa, is storage – and it can be practical and pretty at the same time! Here’s a range of modern and vintage storage ideas available in Singapore stores.









1 Graphic sideboard with Blumotion closing system and adjustable shelves, Soul & Tables 2 TV case with frosted acrylic panels, Taylor B 3 Tabwa TV cupboard in black painted teak, one or two drawers, Soul & Tables 4 Display console in neutral metallic and glass with lift-top lid, Taylor B 5 Hogg bookcase in mindi wood with bronze metal frame, WTP 6 Armstrong buffet sideboard with veneer mindi-wood top and legs in natural metal, WTP

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7 Mother-of-pearl decorative storage box, The Cinnamon Room 8 Display cabinet, Arete Culture 9 Bookcase, Arete Culture 10 Tani chest of drawers, Gallery 278








11 Side tables and coffee tables with storage, OHMM 12 Montecristo display cabinet, House of AnLi 13 Antique painted trunk from Shandong Province, China Collection 14 Damo console, display cabinets and sideboards, House of AnLi 15 Reproduction Ming-style coffer sideboard in Jichimu (chicken-wing) wood, Just Anthony


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16 Replica of Ming-style round-corner tapered cabinet in Jichimu wood, Just Anthony 17 Black & Walnut side cabinet in jujube wood with six internal shelving units, D’Galleria 18 Three-door arch cabinet in Sungkai wood and rattan, Island Living 19 Brass- fitted vintage sideboard from India, Woody Antique House 20 Matsuo chest of six drawers, Gallery 278 21 Alalya rattan cabinet in Sungkai wood and natural rattan, handmade in Indonesia, The Furniture Makers 22 Vintage elm wood display shelf from Shanxi Province, China Collection 23 Reclaimed teak glass cabinet, Island Living 24 Helping Hands hand-woven Penan storage baskets, The Cinnamon Room 25 Mariana buffet in mahogany, natural bamboo and rattan, handmade in Indonesia, The Furniture Makers 26 Old pitara box from India, Woody Antique House










Arete Culture 20 Depot Lane, #01/02 areteculture.com Black & Walnut

43 Keppel Road, #W1-01/02/03 6781 3201 | blackandwalnut.com.sg China Collection 252 Joo Chiat Road 9858 6889 | chinacollection.com.sg The Cinnamon Room #02-74 Jalan Merah Saga 9727 3051 | thecinnamonroom.com D’Galleria 43 Keppel Road, #01-01 6781 3218 | dgalleria.com.sg The Furniture Makers #05-01 Joo Seng Warehouse, 1 Upper Aljunied Link (by appointment only) 9234 4966 | thefurnituremakers.co Gallery 278 203A Henderson Road, #11-01 6737 2322 | gallery278.com House of AnLi #02-21/22, #03-17 Tanglin Mall, 163 Tanglin Road 6235 5193 | houseofanli.com Island Living #02-05 Henry Design Centre, 5 Eunos Ave 8A 8780 5139 | islandliving.sg Just Anthony 379 Upper Paya Lebar Road 6283 4782 | justanthony.com OHMM #03-09 Riverside Point, 30 Merchant Road 6836 2747 | ohmm.sg Soul & Tables #02-03 Tan Boon Liat Building, 315 Outram Road 9272 1545 | soulandtables.com.sg Taylor B Fine Design 65 Mohamed Sultan Road 6206 9736 | taylorbdesign.com Woody Antique House 13 Dempsey Road, #01-05



6471 1770 | woodyantique.com WTP The Furniture Company 3 Kung Chong Road 6235 2760 | wtpstyle.com


51 OCTOBER2021


Originals owner GERI MURPHY tells us about the brand’s ethos and how this translates into its striking styles.

Geri Murphy is quick to point out that her way of thinking and the company’s priority right now is really no different to anybody else’s. “We all want to do our bit for climate change in any way we can.” This evolves into making small decisions whenever possible, to make their environmental footprint as minimal as they can. To this end, the Originals team doesn’t source fast furniture, but looks for furniture that is made to stand the test of time. “We work closely with suppliers such as Ethnicraft, who care about the environmental effects of their production. We don’t see landfill as an inevitable option for our pieces. Rather, we see the pieces staying relevant through fashion trends, and then moving from one pair of hands to the next.” Natural, good-quality materials are selected for their ability to stand the test of time. Originals also works with local artisans – craftsmen whose skills have been learnt and passed down through generations. “Those skills can never be replaced by machines so our carbon output is minimal,” says Geri. The company takes inspiration from the lifestyles of people across Asia, Africa, Europe and Australia to provide furniture elements that customers can use to follow their own design aesthetic. Here are some styles you can expect to see in-store.

Originals collaborates with environmentally-conscious partners like Ethnicraft



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