2nd Edition centres the 3 Orchard By-The-Park show suite around a social deck
For interior designers, show flats can be tricky creatures to balance. By their nature, they need to be everything for everyone. Stylish, but not too stylish. Exclusive, but also inclusive. Attention seeking, but without being too out there.
With literally no room for variation to cater to individual tastes, the design must conjure up a one-size-fits-all aspirational space that suggests to every prospective buyer who steps through the front door that they simply must snap up this apartment immediately, ahead of everyone else who’s viewing it. For in Show Flat Land, FOMO looms large.
With the show suite for 3 Orchard By-The-Park, designed by 2nd Edition, the balance is tipped even more precariously, since the condominium is the work of ACPV Architects, the legendary studio headed by Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel. Flanked by gorgeous, old rain trees, the three 25-storey towers loom high over the western end of Orchard Boulevard, their sleek silhouette and facades marked by the Italian studio’s familiar blend of grey stonework, geometric right angles and striated metal fins. It is a masterclass in confident design.
Coherent from outside to in
It says something, then, about the 17th-floor show suite, that its designer, Hilary Loh of 2nd Edition, has managed to integrate ACPV’s handsome, seemingly effortless minimalism into the 2,583sqft two-storey space, while staying true to the Singapore-based studio’s penchant for rich textures, patterns and light.
Her studio’s design DNA, Loh explains, balances style and functionality, with a nod towards finding a unique Asian aesthetic in which culture and context unfold alongside “the intangible quality of design”. To be sure, it is a difficult algorithm to decipher, but it is clear that the Malaysian-born designer has had plenty of practice.
The brief from the developer, YTL Land, centred on the need to connect the various rooms in the two-storey apartment with a coherent spatial plan, while also connecting the internal volume with the outdoors.
Loh, who has carved out quite the reputation for creating head-turning show flats, settled on a palette of neutral colours – a bit of cream and grey here, a splash of silver, gunmetal and mahogany there – to tie together the public, living spaces with the more intimate bedrooms and bathrooms. This, she says, allowed her to “elevate the spatial quality”, while humanising the scale of the apartment, especially in the living room, which features a lofty 6.5m-high ceiling.
Designed for entertaining
The private lift opens immediately onto a broad balcony – which Loh has dubbed the Social Deck – with views clear across the tree line of Orchard Boulevard. It is an unusual layout (one of several throughout the condominium) where the potential is heightened by a coterie of customised outdoor furniture. These include a low-slung garden table and ebony stools by a potted tree, and a high, green trellis that provides shade, even as it softens the hard edges of the vertical sunscreen.
Double-height sliding doors lead into the living and dining space, where the double-volume void is perfectly scaled by a high suspension lamp, its tangle of wire lines doused in pink. Their playful hue forms a cheery contrast to the wall-to-wall, smoked-ash veneer panels that line the living and dining rooms, and black-framed glass panels of the apartment’s second level.
An all-white, angular spiral staircase leads up to the living quarters, where the perspective points all seem to triangulate onto the Social Deck. This sleight of hand addresses not just the spatial connection between the different functions and moods of the spaces – which Loh says was one of the biggest challenges she faced in interpreting the developer’s brief – but it also handily “blurs the lines between indoor and outdoor living. And when the sliding balcony doors are open, the connection with the Social Deck allows natural light and fresh air to flow into the interiors to create a bright and airy atmosphere”.
Imagined for the cosmopolitan couple
For Loh, who set up her studio in 2005 after a decade toiling at the coalface as an architectural assistant, the show suite at 3 Orchard By-The-Park is a semaphore of her preference for blending, in her words, quiet luxury with timeless design.
As is her wont when designing show flats, she created a script specially for the space. She has always insisted that “you’ve got to create a story, a script. You have to think of contexts, experiences and audiences. In that way, this makes the job of designing a show flat meaningful and exciting.”
In the case of this project, she imagined “a cosmopolitan, well-travelled urban couple who love to travel and who have a discerning taste for unique and authentic experiences”.
These are busy times for 2nd Edition, as Loh leads her 18-strong studio on a slew of residential development projects, experiential sales galleries and show flats in Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and India.
If it is not already clear, in the world according to Hilary Loh, it is always showtime.