Studio iF designed an apartment in Boulevard Vue with so many stories we barely knew where to start
A wall tiled with a mosaic design reminiscent of the Mediterranean; a standing lamp shaped like a tree; a room divider inspired by a meteorite shower. These are just some of the features of an apartment located in Boulevard Vue condominium designed by Studio iF’s Gwen Tan.
Presented as a list, it all sounds a bit hair-raising but the truth is far from it. Under Tan’s talented touch, they come together to form a comfortable four-bedroom abode on the 28th floor that celebrates the cosmopolitan tastes of the owners, a well-travelled couple, and their two daughters.
“The brief was to create a residence that is filled with understated and luxurious touches. Beyond just using high-quality furniture, we curated them to craft narratives that treat the owners and their guests to imaginative experiences,” explains Tan.
True to her design style, a plethora of sensual and tactile elements are found throughout the 4,478sqft space. At the same time, she uses them to turn mundane spaces, like a long corridor connecting the bedrooms, to contain interesting stories.
First impressions matter
The entry foyer is probably the best place to start. While most owners are indifferent about it, Tan’s clients were not. First impressions matter to them and they asked her to ensure it had a “wow factor” the moment anyone stepped out of the private lift.
Given the tight space, she could only embellish it from the top – which is why hanging down from the ceiling is an installation made of hand-blown glass bubbles by Lasvit. Individually, they resemble magnified water droplets; put together, they form a wave-like shape.
An equally wavy, textured feature wall on the right appears like sand formation running across its full height. The connection between the two is immediately obvious: narrating the ebb and flow of the tide on the shore.
“This composition alludes to the clients’ fond memories of the Mediterranean seaside in their travels,” explains Tan, who says the desired effect is of entering a chic boutique hotel.
The drama of the entrance continues with automatic glass screen doors. Laminated with a fine, semi-porous copper mesh that has subtle organic patterns, it almost looks as if there is a metal tapestry artwork in the portal. When shut, daylight still filters into the foyer without compromising on privacy.
“In this case, we wanted to blend the boundaries between art and light. These multiple layers and meanings bring value for the clients,” she adds.
Common spaces with art and light
Once through the doors, the expansive living room yawns open in soothing shades of warm beige and taupe. Similarly, there are a slew of stories here to tell. Daubs of gold are woven into the carpet, a custom-made piece to complement the triptych of art on the wall. Hues of blue are also smeared across, meant to resemble the movement of water.
“It’s like how at sunset, you have some parts of the ocean kind of teetering in the same colour as the sky? We wanted to mimic that. The gold threads are meant to represent the reflection of the light. It came out really soft and beautiful without being overwhelming,” Tan says.
In the corner by the window stands a spindly lamp that looks like a tree, the “branches” tipped with pendant lights. Purchased from Bocci, she reveals that it is actually designed to be outdoor friendly. In fact, the original base is a spike meant to be stuck into soil. To mitigate the lack of earth, Tan had to create a stand to mount it on.
This is also symbolic of what she believes in – to ensure nothing in the apartments she designs are fixed and immovable, so that they can be brought to the next home and be adaptable to different spaces. It is also a mark of consideration to the next owners, who will surely balk at a floor with a big hole in it.
This same spirit is carried on into the screen used to divide the living and dining room. In response to the client’s brief to have a distinctive dining space, and in not wanting to enclose it, she worked with Designheure to customise an installation that doubles up as a light. The end result is “a delicate luminous surface of raining meteorites” made from fabric lampshades woven into tensile cables.
“You hang them up almost by gravity, and they can be flat-packed into a really small box. It’s very cost efficient to ship them. We had a lot of fun working with this product.”
On the other side of the screen is the dining room. Immediately captivating is the feature light, Mesh, from Luceplan, its orb-like form marked by pinpricks of LED light connected by a complex network of cables. It suspends over the table, reflecting prettily in the Nero Marquina marble with a flushed lazy Susan.
Memories of the Mediterranean
A fourth public area worth a closer look is the powder room. Despite it not having a window, Tan made it over to become light and bright. Continuing the theme of the Mediterranean, she had a hand-crafted mural of abstract coral motifs made with mosaics from Italy. This covers the wall behind the sink and, as she puts it, “transports you into an underwater world”. A spherical, luminescent, pearl-like pendant serves as the grooming light.
A similarly creative treatment is applied to the main corridor in the apartment that connects to the four rooms. Initially alarmed by its length and lack of daylight, Tan came up with the idea to dress up this transitional space. Its generous width meant a feature wall could be created along its length, fronted with a backlit display shelf filled with handmade sculptural ceramics.
“Gold leaf was used in both the made-to-order wallpaper and ceramics to amplify qualities of light and warmth. The display included highly sensual pieces from well-known Italian artisans like Paola Paronetto and Rina Menardi,” she points out.
Within the bedrooms, each have a distinct identity, including subtle oriental elements to retain a link to the owners’ Chinese heritage. In the master bedroom, for instance, a blue-toned mural of mountains at twilight recalls a Chinese ink painting that is connected to a pair of contemporary-style screens. The guest room has a Murphy bed that when open, reveals a bedhead made from stone, laser cut to mimic the effect of sand dunes and waves.
While Tan did not have much space planning to do in this project, she has, nonetheless, managed to express her flair for design in other ways. What certainly helped was the freedom she was given to propose whatever her imagination could conjure, with the caveat that the owners would still feel like they are in Singapore when they live in the apartment.
Says Tan, “We chose to draw out that they are living on the 28th floor in a condominium that is on an island. We brought little touches of the sea that would also bring them fond memories of their holidays in the Mediterranean. Far from forcefully injecting them, we do it in a way that gives them enough space to create their own new stories.”