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: 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

 

Personality Series – Home Design for The Artist

Personality Series – Home Design for The Artist

Writing an advice on interior design for the artists must be the boldest attempt in this series. Artists by their very nature defy templates and stereotypes; bold, unique individuals, with a high threshold for things that the common folks consider ‘crazy’. The irony is that this thirst of uniqueness is also the unifying trait that defines the living space of an artist.

Eclectic Touch
If anyone can pull off a patchwork of different colours and themes, it would be you. The chronic rebel of style and taste, you are going to want to splash a touch of victorian to your modern living design, or even juxtaposing Warhol with an industrial look. Some artists shy from colours altogether seeing the world in a contrast of black and white and chrome. An artist who revels in eccentricity might sound like a stereotype, but the true artist knows better. We are not being different for the sake of being different. We just happen to find inspiration and beauty in the unorthodox.

Freedom of Space
It’s the sacred shrine where your best works are conceived. It could be a small stool in the cluttered corner of the room or even in the confines of the bathroom, an artist needs a space to connect with his or her muse. The freedom of space is critical for all creative individuals but unlike other design philosophies, the freedom of space is something an artist discovers organically over time.

Signature Style / Source of Inspiration
The devil is in the details, as they say. An artist will inadvertently leave clues of his personality around the home – a painter with pieces of his idol’s works on the wall, a fashion designer with a walk-in wardrobe as the centrepiece of the bedroom, a writer surrounded by books of his favourite authors. Whichever field you are in, your home will be an extension of your craft. Identifying your signature early during the home design phase will give your interior designer a better sense of imbuing your personality into the home.

 

Image Credit: Header PictureArtiste’s House

Personality Series: Home Design for The Tech Savy Guy

Personality Series: Home Design for The Tech Savy Guy

Fancy having a smart home like Tony Stark from the movie Ironman? Smart home systems used to be the pricey luxury toys of the wealthy are now becoming increasingly accessible. A modern tech savvy home is not just about gadgets, though. Tech savvy homeowners need to consider floor plans, building materials and everything else that goes into the design and development of a home. This is the Interior Design guide for the tech savvy geeks.

 

Home Cinema

When planning a home cinema, the space determines the screen size and type of projector to use. The recommended screen size is 16×9” for the ideal home cinema experience. The true cinema experience is all about the sound and the best place to position the main speakers is behind the screen and above the ground. So you will need to take into consideration where to place the speakers. If the lack of space is causing you grief, check with your interior designer on ways the screen can be inbuilt into the room design.

 

Acoustics

Now that you got your positioning done right, you will need to consider acoustics. Everything in the room from floor to ceiling has an effect on how sound reverberates. To reduce reflective noise, consider concealing hard exposed surfaces with curtains and carpets.

Gadgets, Wiring & Storage Solutions

Gadgets are the backbone of a tech savvy geek’s home. With advancement in technology and the proliferation of the latest buzz word – Internet of Things (IoT) – scores of cool gadgets are adorning every home that has changed people’s lifestyle. The gadgets are not just fancy; they provide quick solutions to everyday problems. The basic must-haves are motion detection, IP cameras, remote appliance control. Power supply and connectivity would be your biggest design concern. Home automations with controls over lights, air conditioning and curtains all at a click of the button from your mobile device would also be great for the tech savy individual.

From the floor plans, your interior designer would be able to advise you on the possible blind spots and power point considerations. With so many gadgets of different shapes and sizes, your home should inculcate loads of storage facilities such as cabinets, hidden drawers etc etc while still having decent access to all these gadgets. The tech savy guy doesn’t love clutter and likes sleek and minimal design for his home. Storage solutions should have a glass door encasing them so that any infra-red devices will still be able to activate even when the doors are closed.  

 

(This article is written in collaboration with Eugene Tay of the Alpha Mind)

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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