Designer’s Advice: Muji Living in Asia

Designer’s Advice: Muji Living in Asia

You are probably no stranger to IKEA and the populist Scandinavian home design concept. If you have never bought a piece of furniture from the Swedish giant in your life, I’m pretty sure you might have eaten at least a meatball. If you are a fan of the Scandi-look but want something a little less common, there’s a design concept I would like to talk about – MUJI.

MUJI? You mean that Japanese retail shop that sells really cool stuff?

Yup, one and the same. What you might not know is the rich cultural and design background behind that brand and how they are responsible for the simple, minimalistic Jap-look since the 1980s. Mundane objects are imbued with a touch of Zen purity that are typical of traditional Japanese humility.

Both the Scandinavian and MUJI concept share common design element – simple, modest, and serene.

The MUJI style favours the neutral colour, wood, sleek lines and form, with minimal decorative accessories set against stark white walls. The emphasis is on functional design and restrained decoration.

Simple doesn’t necessary mean plain or boring. The vast emptiness of the MUJI design isn’t simply about subtracting things from the design. It is about improving the design’s overall effectiveness. MUJI concept strips away the “non-essentials” of a design, while returning to its pure state.

There are just two tips you can follow to achieve that MUJI inspired minimalistic look:

  1. Go For Timelessness – Stick to fundamentals and home pieces that does not embody the trend of its era.
  2. Minus the Ornaments – Think how sushi is served compared to French entree. There are no fancy garnish or drizzled sauce on oversized plate.

Speaking of French, I’d like to leave you with this quote from writer Antoine de Saint-exupery that best describes this theme – “Perfection is Achieved Not When There Is Nothing More to Add, But When There Is Nothing Left to Take Away”

Image Credit: Cover Image, Bench, Living Room

Designer’s Advice: Farmhouse Living in Asia

Designer’s Advice: Farmhouse Living in Asia

The Farmhouse design doesn’t necessarily mean the white picket fence country house you see in the movies, and certainly not a realistic imagery when you look at all the high rise flats in Singapore. The primary objective still remains true: To create a rustic, comfortable atmosphere that feels like a place that has been a home for three generations. Grandma will be proud of you.

Farmhouse concept is a modern approach to cabin-in-the-woods inspired interior design. It’s generally characterized by distressed wood, checkered patterns and upholstered linen. The farmhouse concept, with its simplicity for details, organic texture, and neutral colours, has stood the test of time in an industry where trends are cyclical.

If you don’t mind the tackiness, you can install a fireplace replica framed by a mantel lined with vintage country style knick-knacks and photo frames, and if you don’t mind losing a bit of ceiling height, you may consider installing wooden beams. Open shelves and wood cabinetry without doors is a good way to display your antique Peranakan kitchenware and vintage Macdonald’s happy meal toys.

For Farmhouse purist, it goes without saying that the floor is almost always going to made of wood. However, if you want to add a touch of modern to it, it’s also acceptable to go for black and white checkered ceramic tile design instead.

Image credits: Cover Pic Farmhouse, Farmhouse Modern Toilet

 

Designer’s Advice: Bohemian Living in Asia

Designer’s Advice: Bohemian Living in Asia

Bohemian decor captures the carefree and adventurous spirit of the avant-garde lifestyle. It defies order.

If you have been keeping up with the rest of my articles, you will notice that I usually advice you to go easy on the patterns, but not when it comes to Bohemian. The only thing that goes well with patterns is even more patterns! In fact, if you are a blue-blooded boho-chic kinda person, you’re going to have Moroccan pillows strewn around on Navajo rugs in a room lit by Turkish mosaic lamps. It doesn’t even matter what floor tiles you have because you haven’t seen your floor in years, but if you had to pick one it would mostly likely be pink and turquoise ceramic tile. Oh, and plants. Lots of plants. Hanging leafy greens are a staple for the bohemian earthly touch.

Forgo the bedframe. Go for the floor bed and generous layers of tie-dyed blanket. Rugs don’t just have to be on the floor. You can hang one off the wall as the headboard. If you think all these ain’t enough to bring out the free spirit in you, you can consider crochet curtains hanging from the door way. Don’t let furniture cramp your style. Opt for hanging hammock chair and beanbags instead.

When in doubt, go for eclectic mix of colours and bold accents. In all honesty, if you need a guide to tell you how to be Boho you probably shouldn’t consider this design. A true boho won’t be told what defines him or her. Be free! Be free my bohemian brothers and sisters!

Cover picture: Bohemian Bedroom, Living Room Picture

 

Designer’s Advice: Nautical Living in Asia

Designer’s Advice: Nautical Living in Asia

The Nautical design concept, also known as coastal or cottage décor, is about creating a beachfront home atmosphere so relaxing you forget that you’re living in a modern concrete jungle.

As the name implies, this design concept is based on the nautical themes. Think navy blue stripes on pristine white, soft beige and stone gray, or sand coloured foundation and seafaring equipment as decorative features. You can almost reimagine the traffic noises outside as the sounds of waves crashing against the shore.

Anchors, nets, refurbished boats, seashells, and paintings of aquatic life are all the “must haves” but use them in moderation. The trick to stylish nautical design is not in turning your home into a boatman’s cabin; instead, opt to have a central design element around one or two of these items to focus on. For storage, you can’t go wrong with a distressed wooden “treasure chest” or wicker basket in your living room. For a bolder touch, throw in one or two contrasting colors – such as a bright red throw pillow or a yellow vase.

If you want to push the design boundaries towards a more local flavour, you could consider a kelong cum resort concept instead of the usual New England beach house look that defines traditional Nautical concept.

Material wise, you can still utilise unfinished wood for tables or chairs, combined with white linen upholstery for your lounge seats and sofas. Your options for decorative accents would contain vintage 7-Up bottles, jute ropes, sampan rowing oar, and pre-70s navigational map of the region that shows Singapore in its pre land reclamation state.

5 Beautiful Yet Functional Design Tips for Your Kitchen in 2017

5 Beautiful Yet Functional Design Tips for Your Kitchen in 2017

The kitchen, back in my grandparents’ era, is the most important part of the home. In the Peranakan culture, the kitchen is also known as ‘The Heart of the House’. While modern couples may not utilize the kitchen with the same frequency and enthusiasm their parents did, the kitchen still remains as one of the most important part of the home when it comes to design. You can’t get into an impromptu romantic swing dance routine in the kitchen without breaking some crockeries. But – hey – if that’s your kind of thing, I’m totally supportive of that.

The topic I’m exploring today is on 5 features you must consider when designing a beautiful yet functional kitchen for your new home in 2017.

(Picture by M3 Studio)

The kitchen island! That’s on most people’s wish list but how can we make that option feasible in a HDB kitchen? The best option would be to break down the wall between the kitchen and the dining area and have the kitchen island double up as the barrier between both rooms. The kitchen island is great for mingling with friends while having a glass of wine of if you need to prepare a quick snack.

Another interior design secret I’m going to share with you is The Work Triangle. The triangle should allow the chef to have easy access to the stove, the sink and the refrigerator without obstruction. That path forms a triangle. If you plan your kitchen design following The Work Triangle rule, you would be able to fit a spouse and a pet cat in the kitchen and work together in harmony.

So you got a beautifully designed cabinet and you marvel at your choice of material selection, then you start to unpack your groceries and grandma’s delicate Chinaware, and that’s when you realize the horror of horrors. The cabinet doors clash with adjacent doors and walls and some are even poised in angles that are accidents waiting to happen.

(Picture by M3 Studio)

When designing your kitchen, think about every door and how you’ll use them. Your concept drawings should include the geometry of appliance doors. This includes the swing of the refrigerator doors, the cabinets in their open position, and any other key operations like drawers and dishwasher door. While there will definitely be overlapping areas, the idea is to plan which doors will be operational at which part of the process.

The sink, rubbish bin and dishwasher should be situated close together. Many people may not consider this relation until its too late. The design of a kitchen should consider the convenience of cleaning up after a meal. Ideally you want to have these things out of sight but yet situated close enough to the dining area.

(Picture by M3 Studio)

 

And for my final and probably the most important tip – food preparation space. Never underestimate the space you require. The space you will require and the material of your kitchen top will differ with your ethnic group. Western meals generally require more surface space than oriental meals. Oriental meals, usually piping hot when served would do better with a more resilient kitchen top. Indian food, with its sauces and spice, will require even more space.

If all these points sounds really confusing, just remember one thing: Your lifestyle should determine the functionality of your kitchen, not the other way around. Come talk to your friendly designers at M3 and we would be happy to factor all these considerations in your design so you don’t have to worry.

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