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DISTINCTIVE: Housed in an award-winning terrace home, Retro Colony sells Japanese heritage brand Karimoku’s Karimoku60 range, such as a corner board and an ottoman (above) and the signature K chair.

DISTINCTIVE: Housed in an award-winning terrace home, Retro Colony sells Japanese heritage brand Karimoku’s Karimoku60 range, such as a corner board and an ottoman and the signature K chair (above).

DISTINCTIVE: Oozing industrial chic, Rice’s new four-storey building is an architectural learning lab which engages both home owner and design consultant in making the best material applications in their project.

EXPERIENTIAL: The stunning Louis Poulsen store showcasing the brand's iconic designs.

EXPERIENTIAL: The limited edition PH 3.5-3 copper table lamp.

Stylish showrooms

BT Weekend drops in on three new home furnishings outlets whose store designs are as impressive as the products they sell
Apr 4, 2015 5:50 AM

Retro Colony

47 Nemesu Avenue

Tel 6676 3817 or 9179 9680

(By appointment only)

ROGER Quah had a clear idea of the kind of showroom he wanted when he was searching for a place to sell his range of furniture.

"I knew I didn't want to sell furniture in a mall. I wanted to enhance the shopping experience, and decided I would sell furniture in a real home," he says. It makes perfect sense, as customers are able to see how the pieces would fit in a home.

Retro Colony is housed in an award-winning terrace home near Peirce Reservoir. When Mr Quah saw the two-storey house with a roof garden, he knew it was just right for the company. "I could imagine how the furniture will be displayed," he says.

He brings in Japanese heritage brand Karimoku's Karimoku60 range. The pieces are manufactured in Nagoya and boast timeless designs from the 1960s, hence its name. "The company still uses the same materials, such as para wood, as they did in the 1960s, except that the furniture structure has been reinforced," says Mr Quah.

Karimoku started out in 1940 as a carpentry specialist company producing wooden components for a fellow Japanese piano and wooden TV cabinet frame manufacturer. It later moved to supplying furniture components for American furniture makers for many years, before producing Western style furniture for the Japanese domestic market.

Mr Quah adds that the range is made for Japanese homes which tend to be small, and so would fit in well with homes in Singapore too, which are shrinking in size.

Some of its signature pieces include the K Chair, which retails from S$637, which despite it being designed over 50 years ago, would still look trendy today. He has brought in the entire range of products which includes sideboards, TV consoles, cabinets and dining chairs.

One unusual piece is the Karimoku60+ Corner Board, which costs S$1,383. This low L-shaped desk comes with a drawer on the side, and is good for fitting into dead spaces, such as corners. "An ottoman can be bought separately, and it will fit in with the table," says Mr Quah.

The furniture pieces are displayed throughout the home. At six metres in width, the living area is not big, but Mr Quah manages to fit in eight chairs. In another tight space near the stairs, he displays the Karimoku60+ Desk, which comes with a movable drawer that can move from side to side depending on where the user is sitting.

The bedrooms too, have furniture displayed in them. In one bedroom, there is a sofa bed which was first designed in 1969. The sofa bed is still being used in Japanese hospitals today. Mr Quah points out that it is more comfortable than conventional sofa beds, because the piece was designed first as a bed, then as a sofa.

The furniture pieces are popular with Japanese expatriates as well as younger, local home owners.

"We've gotten positive feedback from customers who say they appreciate being able to see how the pieces can fit into their home," says Mr Quah.

Louis Poulsen

5 Purvis Street, 01-02

Opening hours: Weekdays from 10.30am to 7pm; Sat from 11am to 6.30pm. Closed on Sun.

Tel 6339 6086

LOUIS Poulsen doesn't just do lighting, it does legacy. John Lim, general manager of Sunlight Luminiere explains: "You don't buy a Louis Poulsen piece to own it, you buy it to pass it on to the next generation."

The brand chose Singapore to be the first country outside of Denmark to host a mono-brand showroom, which opened in February this year, in partnership with Sunlight Luminiere. Mr Lim says: "Singapore has developed into a design hub for the rest of Asia, and it just made sense to use this country as a base for Asian clients of Louis Poulsen."

The Danish company has a long history of producing high-quality lighting projects, dating back to 1896, and is now looking to enhance its brand visibility and gain a stronger foothold in all the major countries in Asia. Mr Lim adds: "Today, even after 100 years, the lamps are still being sold. The demand for the products only goes to show how timeless Louis Poulsen designs can be."

Louis Poulsen will be adding a copper version of the legendary 1929 table lamp design following on the heels of last year's 120th anniversary campaign featuring the PH3.5-3 copper pendant.

This is in honour of Poul Henningsen, a long-time collaborator with the brand. The table lamps will be available for order until Aug 31, and will be produced in response to the number of orders received. Measuring 45 cm tall to provide good working light, the copper lamps have not been surface treated, to ensure optimum patination. It will be priced at S$2,490.

The 1,500 sq ft Louis Poulsen showroom on Purvis Street is a work of art in itself. Designed by celebrity designer and President's Design Award winner Peter Tay, it differs greatly from a standard retail space.

Separated into three distinct parts, the store is laid out in a progressive sequence that begins with the relation of Louis Poulsen's image with the street, proceeding on to a showcase of the brand's iconic designs, and ending with a reflective light box, where the lamps are being reflected, multiplied and experienced in their different dimensions.

Jonathan Lee, managing director of Louis Poulsen (Asia), says: "It is designed as an experiential store, one that not only caters to the showcasing and retailing of the lighting brand, but also allows the customer to understand and experience the beauty of the Louis Poulsen designs."


213 Henderson Road, #01-03

Opening hours: Mon to Sat, 10.30am to 6pm.

Tel 6692 1199

IT isn't every day that you buy tiles for the home, but material solutions company Rice believes in giving consumers a different shopping experience. The company sells products such as tiles, stones and mosaics, mostly to architects, developers and to home owners.

The 14-year-old company recently moved into its new premises, a four-storey space which founder Terry Tan terms as the "riceLAB".

"The new riceLAB is an industrial chic architectural learning lab which engages both home owner and design consultant in making the best material applications in their project," says Mr Tan.

Rather than merely displaying endless rows of tiles and stones, riceLAB is designed much like a hotel. "From our studies, we have learnt that most of our well travelled guests have often drawn reference of their dream homes from those luxurious hotels they have stayed overseas," Mr Tan elaborates. The entire riceLAB has dark interiors, and it aims to offer a very cosy ambience with a sense of mysticism, privacy and exclusivity for Rice's products.

Here, Rice's clients are not seen as customers, but rather as guests. The journey to riceLAB begins on the fourth floor, but like a hotel guest, they first have to "check-in" on the ground floor with the concierge.

"Upon arrival, guests will be required to fill out key information about their project, so that we can assign a relevant material Planner to assist them," says Mr Tan.

Once the check-in is done, guests then take the lift up to the fourth floor or the hotelLAB, where there are suites which have been decked out much like luxurious hotel rooms. Sadly, the suites are not open for staying.

"The main purpose is to inspire our guests and showcase on the versatility of how tiles can be applied in various practical functions stylishly in our living space," says Mr Tan.

There is a "pool" on this floor too, but swimsuits are not required. In reality, it is a room tiled with mosaics, "so guests can literally experience a swim without getting wet, surrounded by a good selection of pool mosaics", quips Mr Tan.

Guided by a material planner throughout the visit, guests proceed to the Material Lab, on the third floor. This is a research zone where they get to feel the texture of every material under different illuminations, such as under warm light or natural daylight. "They are encouraged to experiment and test their selection according to their preference," says Mr Tan. To complete this whole experience efficiently, self-help kiosks are available to assist them in visualising and understanding their selections better.

On the second floor is the Project Lab, where different types of tiles in large formats are displayed, while the first floor is the Trend Lab, where the latest tiles available at Rice are displayed.

If there is an award for the most stylish building material showroom, it is no doubt riceLAB would win it hands down. "The maximum potential of every architectural material can only be experienced and expressed through a well-designed space," says Mr Tan.