In Singapore, the new, newfangled, cutting edge, modern has always been embraced. But lately, there has been a resurgence of appreciation for the past, maybe because it’s natural to look back while moving forward, which could probably explain the crop of vintage shops that has been sprouting across the metro lately.
Inspired by this, alphabeticalife and I decided to check out two vintage furniture shops in the McPherson area two Saturdays ago. Weekends, while always welcome, can get repetitive. There’s only so much coffee one can drink at a cafe or food to scarf down at brunch. And malls? The goal is to find something amusing to do without having ever to spend it at a mall.
Just to round out the expedition, we decided to check out the new popup design and architecture library that opened in Raffles Hotel Arcade. We would make that the first stop to what we had dubbed Design Saturday. Coincidentally, the Design Society Festival 2013 was running at the same time. The Saturday we went on our expedition, March 9, was the last day. It seemed fitting that we would be doing our own design-themed gallivanting that day.
Dish About Design, an architect and editor, and more importantly, someone who is always up for gadding about was roped in. Her contribution to the day: Two contemporary design shops that had showrooms in the area.
First stop: The Library x Sunny Hills
The Library is a free reference library dedicated to architecture, design and photography. Currently existing as a series of popup locations across Singapore, the current incarnation is located on the third floor of Raffles Hotel Arcade, and temporarily shares the space — until 31 May — of Taiwanese pastry makers SunnyHills. Housed in one cheerful location, The Library has more than 500 books curated by leading industry professionals in the creative fields. Photographer Jing Quek of SUPER Studio was on hand when we visited.
“Right now, this exists as a series of popups, but we’re planning to look for a permanent location,” he said of his initiative. The idea for The Library was to be a venue for those in Singapore’s creative fields to have a reference library. About 40 professionals in the fields of architecture, design, art and photography have shared their time and expertise in building The Library’s collection. In time, Quek hopes to add other well-known creative professionals to curate the collection.
The space that The Library occupies is actually the shop of SunnyHills, purveyors of gourmet pineapple cakes. These pineapple cakes are made without additives and chemicals from organically grown pineapples and fresh ingredients from New Zealand (butter) and Japan (flour). We don’t know if it’s the ingredients or the skill in making these delicacies, but these were the best pineapple cakes we’ve tasted. They were dense, not too sweet yet not too tart; the pastry was thick and creamy, not flaky. All in all, delicious. A piece or two of this along with a cup of Oolong tea or fresh pineapple juice on the rocks while reading a book from The Library and your afternoon is set.
Perusing the collection at The Library. Shelves — or book blocks, actually — we specially designed to accommodate the tomes
Quek, along with some volunteers, were wrapping newly arrived books when we visited
Full view of The Library. At the back is the Sunnyhills counter
Tea and pineapple cake, anyone? These, by the way, were free during our visit
Boxes of pineapple cakes sell for $13 (eight pieces), $25 (10 pcs), $50 (20 pcs)
Bottles of delicious pineapple juice — I am going to buy me some bottles of this one of these days!
A quick look-see at French label A.P.C., which has a boutique at Raffles Arcade and carries Carrie K accessories — I want these bangles! — and we were off to our second destination…
Second stop: Oddyssey — odds & whatnots and Hock Siong & Co.
The past has a smell. Proof: Go to any second-hand/thrift/vintage shop and take a deep breath. It’s not a bad smell, but it’s there. Entering Oddyssey, which had only opened a few weeks ago, we step into days gone by, with the smell is palpable and familiar. My mom loves scouring vintage shops and I developed the same enthusiasm for them. Oddyssey has some really interesting pieces. It has the look and feel of a vintage shop, but none of the clutter. The pieces look very well curated and yet they didn’t have that vibe of inaccessibility. The owners, who were present when we were there, pretty much left us to our own devices and cheerfully waved us goodbye even if we didn’t buy a thing. I love that friendliness. If I ever had an apartment (here in Singapore? Pipe dream, I know. But still…), I would definitely go back for some kitschy conversation pieces.
Cabinets of curiosities
A few streets away from Oddyssey is Hock Siong & Co., which buys furniture, silverware, bric-a-bracs from showflats (what we call model units back home) and hotels that have redesigned and therefore don’t need the old stuff. Ever wonder where the furniture for those showflats end up? They end up in places like these — which is why the warehouse looks haphazard, with different design styles sharing space and vying for customer attention. This place is for those seriously in the market for furniture and other houseware, otherwise, it can get overwhelming to inspect everything.
Hock Siong carries everything from…
… ornate China cabinets like these…
… to figurines and statuary…
… to silverware, cutlery and crockery…
… to footstools, chairs, sofas and everything in between!
Third stop: Egg3 and Grafunkt
From the vintage and pre-owned, we go to the hip and contemporary. A few streets away from the two vintage shops were the showrooms of lifestyle concept store Egg3, which carries fashion, jewellery, home accessories and innovative gift items and independent design and lifestyle brand Grafunkt, which also carries other design brands that hews to Grafunkt’s clean and contemporary design aesthetic.
Egg3 has everything from trendy clothes to quirky home accessories I’d love to take home — if I had my own home
Ballerina, fish and cake stand — there’s a fairy tale waiting to be told with these figurines
King and Queen chess pieces for the nerds — or the master strategists — in your life. I was actually eyeing that mirror in the upper right hand corner. Maybe I’ll come back for it one weekend
I covet these top hat and bowler hat lamps (chandelier?) for my nonexistent house
A cozy bedroom nook at Grafunkt
This little guy was sitting quietly in a corner. I love owls!
Modern apothecary bottles manufactured in a 180-year old Central European glassworks and crafted with precision to ensure that their contents stay well preserved. These bottles are direct descendants of those used by European apothecaries centuries ago
I covet these stools, but they do not come cheap, more’s the pity!
Chairs by Ton are characterized by fluid, almost cursive lines
#03-05, Raffles Hotel Arcade (until 31 May 2013)
Hours: 11am – 6pm (Mon), 11am – 8pm (Tue-Sat), 11am-6pm (Sun)
11am-6pm (Sun-Mon), 11am-8pm (Tue-Sat)
85 Playfair Road #02-01/02
Tong Yuan Industrial Building
Tel: +656281 8465
11am – 7pm (daily)