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Singapore’s top SIDA winner, design studio Produce, designed the Herman Miller shop-in-shop, located in Xtra’s Marina Square flagship store, to appear like a billowing sail.

A reading corner in Play Plus kindergarten, by Panorama, seeks to provide an inspiring learning environment and promote interaction between children.

The lattice ceiling of the proposed King Salman Mosque in the Maldives designed by Orb Associates.

The Boutique at EDL Division's Showroom designed by Formwerkz.

A project to restore the Toong-On Temple in Kolkata by JIA Studios.

Interiors with style

The inaugural Singapore Interior Designer Awards attracted more than 300 entries from Asia and Europe and there were nine winners from Singapore, demonstrating that the nation's interior design industry has come of age.
Mar 10, 2017 5:50 AM

THE first ever Singapore Interior Designer Awards (SIDA) is off to a great start. The annual event organised by the Society of Interior Designers Singapore (SIDS) recognises and honours design excellence in the global interior design industry.

It received more than 300 entries within three months of its launch in November 2016. Despite its name, the awards are open not just to Singapore designers but also to those overseas with entries coming from China, Japan, India, Taiwan, South-east Asia and even Europe.

On March 8, a total of 61 winners received awards for their projects, including nine from Singapore.

SIDS president Keat Ong says: "We opened the competition to practising interior designers and architects from around the world as the Singapore market is rather small."

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He adds that the "high number of foreign participants is a testament to Singapore's attraction as a springboard to markets in the region for interior designers looking to spread their footprints beyond their own limited borders."

Local design studio Produce is Singapore's top SIDA winner for its design of Herman Miller's shop-in-shop located within Xtra's Marina Square flagship store.

The awards are divided into two main sections: completed works and proposed works. Each section has 12 categories including landed, non-landed and show flats for residential developments; public institutions and transport; retail; hospitality and exhibition.

Mr Ong says that it is important to recognise not only completed works but proposed works as well. "Proposed works can include projects that are still being built, ideas and concepts; and we want to give recognition to good ideas," he says.

There were two rounds of judging. The first was conducted by eight local design experts including designer Nathan Yong and interior designer Peter Tay. After that elimination round, a second round of judging was held by an international panel that included Lyndon Neri, founding partner of Neri & Hu Design and Research Office; and Jooyun Kim, dean of the graduate school of design at Hongik University, South Korea.

Mr Keat says that despite strong competition from overseas, the nine winners from Singapore demonstrate that "our interior design industry has come of age and we have good talent comparable to some of the world's best designers".

Xtra's Herman Miller Shop-in-Shop by Produce, Singapore
Gold winner for Completed Works,
Retail Category

Local design firm Produce was inspired by Herman Miller's range of work chairs when it was designing its shop located within Xtra furniture store.

Occupying a 20 metre long by seven metre wide space, the Herman Miller store is expressed as a lightweight plywood minimal surface skin that stretches across the entire site like a sail of tensile fabric. Propped up by a series of arches that frame the entrances and connections to the rest of Xtra, the street and the adjacent café, the structure leads the viewer from the low three-metre-high entrance to the lofty eight-metre-tall glass curtain wall at the other end.

To achieve this, a traditional tailoring technique used for shaping fabric to fit the human body called "darting" was exported onto plywood. A continuous iteration and loop between computation and physical modelling helped to calibrate the darts and their respective angles on a flat piece of plywood which determined its eventual curvature when closed.

Circular cut-outs were used at the converging point of the darts to allow the plywood to bend and avoid tears. When assembled, the structure forms a naturally undulated surface much like the ruching of fabric.

Play Plus by Panorama, Hong Kong
Gold winner for Completed Works,
Public Institutions Category

It is not hard to understand why children at this kindergarten love coming here, given the environment designed to help them think, learn and act independently.

The kindergarten space depicts the metaphor of an abstract "landscape" in which different degrees of openness, scale, height, proportions are manipulated and can be experienced to the fullest by the children for their every need, be it reading, drawing, playing, story-telling or learning.

The classrooms, playground, reading corners and washrooms in the kindergarten have timber veneer finishes and pastel coloured upholsteries to create dynamic, vivid and inspiring learning environments and to promote interaction between the children.

Feature walls of multimedia projections and traditional chalkboards are juxtaposed to provide flexible and tactile teaching media for the teachers. Floating logo-inspired "crossed-shaped" featured lights act as spatial directory and complete a child's fantasy of the space.

EDL Division by Formwerkz, Singapore
Honourable mention for Completed Works,
Exhibition Category

It can be a long and uninspiring chore, going through endless rows of laminates for a new home. But at the new EDL Division showroom, shopping for laminates is now a fun process.

Architect Gwen Tan of Formwerkz says: "We imagined EDL Division to be a journey where there is a heightened sense of discovery and uncovering."

Instead of one big showroom, there are eight zones for customers to explore.

There is no fixed sequence to view the spaces. One area is called The Woods, and it resembles a forest that conceals a physical reference library for the timber decor. There are also miniature laminate sculptures that resemble branches. Over at The House, customers can view a showcase of past and present collaborative design project models in a wall relief display.

Another highlight of the showroom is The Boutique, where articles of clothing fashioned out of laminates are suspended to illustrate the play of colour and texture.

With this new style of showing laminates, EDL hopes to cater directly to end-users, not just to interior designers.

The Cha Project by JIA Studios, Singapore
Honourable mention for Proposed Projects,
Installation Category

We may not realise it but Singapore has a long history with the Indian city of Kolkata. It was from the Writers' Buildings in Kolkata, then known as Calcutta, the administrative headquarters of the British in India, that the East India Company acquired control over what was then the small trading post of Singapore in 1830. Another interesting fact is that the Singapore dollar was first minted in Kolkata. And now, Singapore company JIA Studios is helping to preserve the heritage of India's first Chinese settlement.

The Cha Project, so called because "cha" means tea in both the local language and in Chinese, will also develop Chinatown as a cultural destination, creating a physical experience, promoting businesses and, most importantly, improving the quality of life for the few thousand Chinese who have been living in Kolkata for generations and consider themselves natives of India.

The project involved restoring the Toong-On Temple, a landmark in the city, and its surrounding areas. JIA Studios also proposed that the area around Damzen Lane be transformed from a quiet warren of lanes and bylanes to a food street which will also result in shops reviving traditional crafts and trades that are fast disappearing.

JIA hopes that by sprucing up the streets and buildings in Chinatown, the rest of the city will follow suit.

King Salman Mosque, Maldives, by Orb Associates, Singapore
Bronze winner for Proposed Projects,
Public Institutions Category

The project brief was to create an interior for a prayer hall and an auditorium for a proposed mosque in the Maldives. Orb Associates took inspiration from the vernacular Islamic architectural element "Jali", a term for lattice screens created with ornamental patterns through the use of Islamic calligraphy and geometry. Orb Associates also explored different uses of these screens to create a consistent spatial language catering to different activities within the mosque.

However, the Maldives government in the end awarded the development of the King Salman mosque in the capital Male to Turkish company Alke-Turmaks. The project, which aims to build the largest mosque in the Maldives, will be completed in August 2018.