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Collectibles on the block
120 Lower Delta Road, #01-15, Cendex Centre
Opens: Mon to Fri, 11am to 8pm;
Sat, 8am to 2pm; closed on Sun
ALWAYS fancied the idea of bidding for a Monet at a Christie's auction but aren't quite in that league? HotLotz is a new furniture shopping concept that lets you practise raising your paddle. Every Saturday at 10am, HotLotz holds on-the-spot auctions for its range of contemporary and vintage furniture and collectibles at its showroom in Lower Delta Road. If you're in the market for anything from a 19th century English Swing Dressing Table Mirror to a modern "Howard" style two seater sofa or vintage Hermes silk scark circa 1971, put in a bid. If you win, you can take it home right then and there, or have it delivered.
If 10am is too early for you, then place your bids before each Saturday, and get regular email notifications on whether or not you've won the auction.
HotLotz managing director Matthew Elton hit on the idea to start an auction house like this - possibly the first of its kind in Singapore - about two months ago. Moving to Singapore, he set about building a new business that would bring together all of his passions, "collecting things, travelling the globe, managing great events, and generally shaking things up", says the Briton. He had earlier spent 10 years in London running a business consultancy that secured corporate sponsorship for large international events.
These days, he can be found flying around the world, "picking up beautiful things", and being on the rostrum on Saturdays.
Mr Elton runs the firm together with general manager Geoffrey Volpatti, whose background is in the luxury and hospitality industry, and auctioneer and valuer Christopher Lanigan-O'Keeffe, who used to work at Christie's.
From fine Asian interiors, European old world memorabilia to vintage advertising prints, HotLotz sources its offerings from private consigners in Singapore, local antique shops, and scouts combing the hidden antique shops of Europe and Australia.
With auctions taking place weekly, the items that are up for bidding are constantly changing. Some are one-off pieces. Past items consigned to HotLotz by local clients, or sourced from Europe include a service of Silver Plated Flatware from Harrods in its original fitted mahogany canteen, which was sold for S$700, and a set of 10 Japanese Kutani porcelain plates from the Meiji period, which sold for S$460.
To date, it has held 10 auctions, each with about 30 people turning up. "We get a wide range of people who come, such as young couples who are settling into their first homes, and seasoned collectors," says Mr Elton.
The website also has the option for those who have items to sell, together with a "Request for Estimate" form.
HotLotz will soon be releasing its mobile app, so that shoppers can bid for items on the go. "But there's nothing like watching a live auction," says Mr Elton.
Story behind the furniture
Akar de Nissim
4 Teck Lim Road
Opens: Mon to Fri, 10am to 7.30pm;
Sat, noon to 8pm. Closed on Sun
WHO is Akar de Nissim? He is a 50-year-old well-travelled gentleman who exudes the wealth of the East and West, and is the embodiment of today's multi-cultural world. He is the ambassador of a new understated style with an eye on contemporary trends. He confesses to a fascination with the ancient Indo-Greek Kingdom of Gandhara as well as the timeless elegance of Art Deco, both expressions of the art of blending cultures.
He is also a fictional character created by married couple Richard Le Sand and Marianne Fabre, the founders of furniture and lifestyle accessory brand Akar de Nissim. The Akar character acts as an ambassador of the Akar de Nissim lifestyle.
Mr Le Sand, a French native, has over 20 years of experience in the design and decor industry, having consulted for many top-tier clients in France. Together with his team of designers, they are the ones designing pieces for the brand.
Ms Fabre, who is half-French and half-Argentinian, is the brand's international sales director, and a veteran in the hospitality industry. The couple moved to Singapore in 2008.
"The Akar de Nissim customer is very much a connoisseur, someone who is interested in things that are timeless, exclusive, rare, with a tribute to craftsmanship. He or she wants to know the story behind the furniture," says Mr Le Sand.
Most of the brand's pieces are manufactured in Ho Chi Minh City. A team of 20 local artisans work in four ateliers, each dedicated to a specific craft: woodworking, metalworking, leather upholstery and candle making. They are guided and supervised by French master furniture maker Herve Delahaye, who trained at the prestigious École Boulle in Paris, an institution famed for turning out craftsmen skilled in chair making, cabinet making and marquetry, among others.
Some of the collection's key pieces come with a plaque that bears Delahaye's name, together with the local artisan's name. Also on the plaque, is the date of production, and its production number. "We only produce 50 of some pieces, while for others there are 200 in production, so they are limited editions," says Mr Le Sand. He believes that well-designed and crafted furniture should be handed down the generations, and with the help of the plaques, "the future generation will know the history of each piece of furniture", he says.
The brand has launched three collections - the first two are a mix of East meets West, as Mr Le Sand has been greatly inspired by his background and his travels around Asia.
The latest collection, which was launched recently at Maison & Objet Asia, has more Art Deco elements, such as geometric lines and shapes, and modernist architectural influences.
One key piece in the new collection is the Iris coffee table, which has a top made of black straw marquetry. Straw marquetry is a craft very similar to that of wood marquetry, except that straw replaces the wood veneer. It is thought to have first been practised in the East; examples were brought to England in the 17th century.
To showcase this centuries-old, labour intensive art form in a modern context, Akar de Nissim sought the expertise of French master craftsman Eric Stocker, an artisan based in Siem Reap, who has over 40 years of experience. Only 50 pieces of the Iris coffee table with its straw marquetry top has been produced.
Other pieces in the collection include a day bed, sofa and cabinet.
Ms Fabre says they have mostly been working with architects and interior designers, to fit out hotels, condominiums, and restaurants, such as at Angela May Food Chapters.
But with their newly opened showroom, they hope to reach out to more homeowners directly. Already, there have been curious folks. "We see a lot of fingerprints on the glass, as people must have been peering in, after their meals at the surrounding restaurants," quips Ms Fabre. "And they do come back to our gallery eventually."
Platform for designers
11 Jalan Mesin, Standard
Industrial Building, #01-01
Tel 6717-9848 (by appointment only)
INHABITANT, the new furniture store, aims to be a platform for both foreign and local brands.
Its founder, Erricson Wong, started the brand when he "realised that that there were certain brands and products that were not represented here and that there wasn't much opportunity for local designers to promote their designs".
He adds that Inhabitant is not just a local store and online platform within Singapore, but "I hope that it will become a platform to help the local designers gain visibility outside of Singapore in the near future".
The collection comprises mainly young and emerging brands around the world as well as a dedicated section for local brands and designers who believe in the same ideology of design. The product selections emphasise the tactile qualities of natural materials, for example, the warmth and texture of wood, the heterogeneous quality of natural stones, the coldness of metals and the softness of fabrics. The collection ranges from lounge chairs to side tables and lighting, as well as accessories such as tea cups, mirrors and even a jump rope with leather-clad handles.
Some of the local brands that the store carries include Desinere, JotterGoods, Journey East and Made & Make. The overseas brands that Inhabitant carries include Lambert & Fils, Omelette-ed and Anglepoise.
Mr Wong, 36, is no stranger to the furniture retail scene. He has been in the furniture industry for about 15 years. He had previously worked at a premium furniture store despite not having any prior experience. "Although I studied interior design, working in sales management and marketing provided me with an all rounded experience in the furniture and design industry," says Mr Wong.
With his experience performing various roles within the organisations he had worked for, he found it easier to understand the requirements of setting up a store. "However, being totally new as a brand, it is quite challenging to get Inhabitant noticed and heard," he says. Which is why the store will be holding an open house, showcasing its range of furniture in a home setting.
"I have always been interested in furniture since young. That passion constantly keeps me abreast of trends and new designs. With the Internet, social media and travelling, I get more exposure to new and upcoming brands that I adopt into our collections," says Mr Wong.
Just who is Inhabitant targeted at? "Anyone who appreciates good design," says Mr Wong.
- Inhabitant will be having an open house, The Inhabitant Home, on May 28, from 1pm to 6pm, at Blk 47 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh, #03-130
Atelier Swarovski Home
FANS of Swarovski can do more than just wear its jewellery - they can dress their homes with its signature crystal designs. At the recent Salone del Mobile design fair in Milan, the brand launched Atelier Swarovski Home, its new home accessories brand. Swarovski's other collections are mostly in jewellery and accessories.
Nadja Swarovski, member of the Swarovski executive board, says that "Atelier Swarovski Home is an exciting new brand that will offer the ultimate in luxury crystal home decor with an ultra-modern design aesthetic".
The inaugural collection includes centrepieces and home accessories created from mixed materials such as marble, metals and resins together with crystal, and makes full use of new technologies developed by Swarovski's experts, including crystal printing - a permanent form of laser-jet print on crystal - and the revolutionary Wave Cut technique, which combines cutting-edge computer technology with mechanical engineering to cut curved forms in crystal.
As with its Atelier Swarovski collection, the brand collaborated with leading product designers and architects for its Home collection. They include Daniel Libeskind, Ron Arad, Tomas Alonso, Tord Boontje and the late Zaha Hadid.
The new collection is a showcase of the infinite creative possibilities of crystal in design, from the unmistakable aesthetic signatures of Daniel Libeskind, whose chess set pieces come in a mix of materials such as Wave Cut crystal, silver, concrete, marble, resin and five-axis machined anodised aluminium; Ron Arad, who maximises the pure brilliance of stand-alone crystal; and Aldo Bakker and his minimalist crystal and marble vases.
Working with a select group of designers, many of whom have previously collaborated with Swarovski on architecture and design projects, the home decor product line translates the forward-thinking design DNA and technical expertise of the crystal brand into a collection of luxurious and covetable table top objects and home accessories.
Atelier Swarovski Home collections will be available with products costing from 250 euros to 20,000 euros (S$384 to S$30,760). There is no word yet on which pieces will be available in Singapore, but the pieces will retail from later this year.