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Get ready to go green
WHAT will 2017 bring to the design world? More green buildings in Singapore, soothing colour palettes and furniture that incorporates technology are just some of the exciting things that design buffs and home owners can look forward to.
Colours that soothe
If you're looking to paint your home in the latest trendy colours, then 2017 is green year for you according to the experts at Pantone. Otherwise, take the blue route with Denim Drift, advises paint and coatings company AkzoNobel.
Pantone's Greenery is a zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring, according to the company "Greenery bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the hope we collectively yearn for amid a complex social and political landscape," said its release.
Meanwhile, AkzoNobel describes its chose hue, also known as Smoke Grey, as a versatile grey-blue that takes on different characteristics depending on how it is used. Pair it with wooden furniture - be it country style or minimal Nordic designs - for an impeccably stylish look.
Buildings turning green
Green buildings in Singapore typically have eco-friendly features that are not obvious to the public, such as rainwater collection tanks or facade panels that block out the direct sun and provide shade.
Now, buildings in Singapore are turning green, literally. Take the hotel ParkRoyal on Pickering, for example. When it was completed in 2013, the greenery was limited to small trees and shrubs. Today, all the terraces of the hotel are covered in lush greenery, creating an urban jungle in Chinatown.
Over at Raffles Place, the plants on the green wall at Ocean Financial Centre are growing well, too.
The newly-opened Oasia Hotel Downtown at Tanjong Pagar is this year's green building. Designed by architecture firm, Woha, which also did ParkRoyal, Oasia Hotel Downtown has an exterior made of orange, pink and maroon aluminium mesh, while 21 species of creepers grow on its facade.
Over time, when the creepers climb higher and grow lusher, the facade will transform into a "furry building" with flecks of red mesh in the background. Hopefully, the building will be a haven for birds and animals, too.
Buildings that boast greenery tend to stand out among the other skyscrapers with their cold steel and glass exteriors. In 2017, architects may be more inspired to design buildings that introduce more greenery.
Outdoor furniture going indoors
It used to be that outdoor furniture was meant strictly for the outdoors and indoor pieces could not be used outdoors. But these days, furniture manufacturers are blurring the lines. For small homes, that means one less set of furniture to buy.
For example, the new SP 01 Outdoor collection from Space is made to withstand the toughest of environments - the Australian outdoors, including the harsh sun and sea salt mist. But its minimal and pared back design, with a heavy focus on bent metal wire, which is then mixed beautifully with an earthy natural material palette including marble and timber, makes it suitable for indoor use as well.
Technology and furniture
Shopping for furniture used to involve a trip to the store, taking measurements of the furniture and sitting on the sofa.
Mark Yong, president of the Singapore Furniture Industries Council, says that "the tech revolution is fast conquering one of the last bastions of brick-and-mortar shopping or traditional manufacturing - the furniture and furnishing business, a sector one would normally associate with big, well-decorated stores or traditional tools and craftsmanship."
For manufacturers, technology is transforming the types of materials used in furniture production.
"New materials such as polymers, epoxy and silicone give rise to innovations such as self-healing material surfaces, 'healthy furniture' and greener furniture," says Mr Yong.
Technology such as 3-D printing has also given rise to furniture production on demand. So, furniture production will become more "instant", and increasingly customised with more bespoke designs.
"For furniture retailers, virtual reality devices let consumers select from numerous furnishing options to help them design their dream homes - without having to be physically in the space that they are fitting out," says Mr Yong.
This enables retailers to shrink their shopfronts and slash operating costs while giving their businesses a novel and experiential twist.
"More significantly, the digital age has spawned the rise of e-retailers. Increasingly, furniture players will move out of their brick-and-mortar shells completely, or turn their stores into flagship click-and-mortar experience centres - and gain market share globally through borderless digital trading," he adds.
Rene Tan, director of RT+Q Architects, hopes to see less architecture and more quality spaces, such as larger gardens, well-proportioned courtyards and smaller houses, when it comes to residential design.
"Appreciation for space should take precedence over massive buildings. Architecture should be unapologetically simpler and even usher a return to primordial concerns and primitive methods," he says.
More often than not, he feels things are done for the sake of doing. For instance, roof gardens, bay windows and balconies are built for the sake of building rather than for actual usage or to satisfy real needs. A lot of construction is left un-utilised, materials wasted and energies exhausted.
"As designers, we are also sometimes prone to over-indulging. We remind ourselves 'less moves, but bigger moves' is key to a better environment," says Mr Tan.