Monday, 1 September, 2014

 
Published March 01, 2014
Personal space
Bachelor pad
Ian Fong redesigned his one-bedroom apartment in Cairnhill and the Arne Jacobsen's Egg chair is among his favourite buys. By Tay Suan Chiang
BT 20140301 SCSPACE1XX05 978378

COSY LOOK
Rather than use paint on the walls, Mr Fong opts for wallpaper. One wall in the living room is covered with textured, black wallpaper, while the opposite wall has a stripped pattern. - PHOTOS BY: YEN MENG JIIN

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IAN Fong is the sort who moves house every few years, and each one looks vastly different from the previous. Some years ago, he lived in a HDB terrace home at Whampoa which was done up in an eclectic and English style. When he moved into his current home, a one-bedroom apartment in Cairnhill in 2010, he did up the place in a modern and somewhat minimalist look. Four years on, Mr Fong, the CEO of Sirius Art, has decided to stay put in this apartment. "This is the longest that I have lived in one apartment, as I have grown to like the place," he says.

He was set on this one-bedder when he was house-hunting back then. At 818 sq ft in size, it is a fairly large one. "It has a big living room which is good, especially when I have friends over," he says. "But yet at the same time, it is small enough, so that I have an excuse not to let friends sleep over."

He says while he welcomes friends, he draws a line at letting them stay the night. "I can't be myself then," he says. "My friends know that although I'm an extrovert, I am still quite reserved."

But since he has decided not to move, a revamp was in order for the apartment. Last year, he changed the look by rearranging the furniture and adding new ones.

A number of designer chairs dot the apartment, despite Mr Fong saying that he does not collect chairs but buys them simply because he loves them. "I appreciate beautiful design, and I respect timeless classics, so I am willing to spend on them," he says.

One of his favourite pieces is Arne Jacobsen's Egg chair. Mr Fong first saw it 20 years ago, but could not afford one then. "If I can't afford a piece, I will not buy a knock-off," he says. He bought the chair recently, and decided to go with the one in tan leather, despite it costing three times more than the fabric version. It comes as a surprise when Mr Fong confesses that the chair "isn't very comfortable. You cannot lounge in it". For a period of time, he could not believe that he had spent a five figure sum on the chair. "But it will not ever look outdated, and I can pass it down to my niece and nephew. So this is my heirloom piece," he says, justifying what he calls his most insane purchase.

Another Arne Jacobsen piece he has is the Series 7, used as a dining chair. "Again, I picked this because I appreciate Scandinavian design. It is functional yet aesthetically pleasing, and made of wood, which complements the home," he says. Unfortunately, the seat suffered a scratch after a particular dinner party, but Mr Fong brushes it off. "Of course, it pains my heart, but, it is just too bad," he says. He is better able to tolerate scratches on the floor, as "they give a lived in feel".

His favourite spot in the home is the sofa, where the TV addict can indulge in his pastime. "When I was a child, and there was no cable TV then, I used to watch everything on TV, even the Malay and Tamil programmes, just so that I could avoid doing homework," he says, These days, he is more likely to be watching "anything from legal dramas to sci-fi, to Channel 8 drama serials".

Mr Fong's appreciation for well-designed pieces extends to his choice of home accessories. One conversation piece is a limited edition wooden crate from Cassina, designed by Le Corbusier. Mr Fong gushes about the smooth finishing, and the flawless joinery. He says excitedly that while it looks like a fancy crate, it can be used as a side table, a low chair or as a foot stool. "Some friends love it so much that they want to get one too, while others think I'm crazy for buying this."

Sharp-eyed visitors will notice several animal accessories around the home, such as the Eames House Bird, the Magis Puppy, and a rooster perching on a stand. "I trained in zoology, although I never practised," he says.

On the TV console is a red plastic toy car, from British label Playforever. "The red makes it look like it doesn't fit in with the rest of the apartment, and I like throwing in surprises like that," says Mr Fong.

The bachelor also gives his personal touch to the home by displaying family photos in his bedroom. "There are some of me from my younger days, some with my niece and nephew. I am constantly adding new ones."

Mr Fong's eye for detail goes beyond furnishings to the hardware. Rather than paint the walls, he prefers wallpaper. One wall in the living room is covered with textured, black wallpaper, while the opposite wall shows off a striped pattern. The apartment's white laminate cupboards were replaced with black ones that have a slight leather finish. "To me, it is not just the colour that matters, but the texture as well."

Black features mostly in the apartment, and the colour initially did not go down well with Mr Fong's father. "He kept asking me if I was sure about it, especially when black is an unusual colour for the living room. But he likes the end result," says Mr Fong. "I had to reassure him that I knew what I was doing."

The apartment's revamped look makes it look cosy, but Mr Fong says he would rather not put a label on it. "Let's just say this the Ian Fong look."

taysc@sph.com.sg