Chinoiserie Chic? We Beg to Differ.

By Grace Chen / Creative Mind Design | May 10, 2016 10:00 AM SGT
Contemporary Asian design does not have to scream “chinoiserie”, as proven by a penthouse show unit at Leedon Residence designed by Creative Mind Design. Ian Lee, lead designer of the project, describes it as the “new Asian luxury”, where luxury is quiet, contemplative and, as paradoxical as it sounds, modest.
Born to Malaysian-Chinese parents but raised in the UK, Lee admits to being more familiar with Western values and culture than his Asian roots. Nevertheless, he subconsciously draws from Asian influences in his design process, marrying them with his Westernised tastes. Hence, you are not likely to find heavily lacquered timber, fretwork screens or dogmatic minimalism in his design. Instead, you will find balance, restraint and serenity, which are highly valued in Asian societies.
Throughout the interior spaces, dualities in form, texture and colour are skilfully balanced. Clean lines bring out the patterned surfaces of natural stone and timber, while the hardness of these materials is softened with flowing drapes. The space is amply filled with cushions and plush throws and rugs. Dark millwork forms a reticent backdrop for furniture mostly in light grey and beige tones.
Balancing contemporary and classic
In the living area, a full-height shelving unit with a hidden TV compartment has sliding doors clad in faux shagreen. Shagreen is a highly sought-after decorative material dating back to the Chinese Han Dynasty and has graced the sword hilts of the Japanese samurai and the trinkets of French aristocrats alike. Commonly sourced from East Asia, it is traditionally found in the homes of the very rich around the world and deemed an exotic and precious material by those in the know.
A sense of balance is also apparent in the furniture selection. Anchoring the space is a modern, classic L-shaped sofa, paired with a rectilinear coffee table. There is stability in the stance of the table, yet a sense of lightness as it seems to hover just above the soft carpet. Balancing out the conservative silhouettes of the sofa and coffee table is a very hip and unexpected form of an armchair with its pillowy upholstery — the Husk by Patricia Urquiola — and a wireframe end table, both of which exude playfulness and freshness.
Balance out conservative silhouettes with unexpected forms such as the playful Husk armchair by Patricia Urquiola