Kuhlmann embarks on new design trend in Singapore

/ EdgeProp Singapore
January 13, 2022 7:00 AM SGT
The management team of Kuhlmann International in Singapore: (from left) Simon Chiang, creative director; Sonia Anya Tay, project director; and Benedict Choa, CEO (Picture: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - Modular interior design is an emerging trend in Singapore, unlike in Europe, where it is established. Husband and wife team, Benedict Choa and Sonia Anya Tay, who are also capsule hotel owners, want to change that, by teaming up with interior designer Simon Chiang.
The trio have partnered German modular interior builder Kuhlmann International to bring curated offerings of its modular line-up to the Singapore market. Choa and Tay created the firm, The Modular Builder (TMB), to represent the bespoke German brand as its official distributor in Singapore.
Kuhlmann Experience Centre - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The Kuhlmann experience centre and office at Kallang Place. (Picture: Kuhlmann International)
Kuhlmann’s flagship office and experience centre at 16 Kallang Place showcases the home solutions offered by the German brand. The space was designed by Chiang, who is creative director of Kuhlmann International in Singapore. Choa is the CEO, while Tay is the project director.

Building modular furniture

Choa and Tay were introduced to Kuhlmann while they were searching for a modular builder for their hotels in Singapore. The pair own and manage two Cube boutique capsule hotels — in Kampong Glam and Chinatown — as well as a family-friendly version that is also in Chinatown.
In 2019, the pair were planning to develop more capsule hotel properties in Singapore and open a franchise business for their Cube hotels. But their expansion plans have been put on hold since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, their friends and acquaintances were turning to them for interior design advice, given their experience in hospitality design and modular building.
Kuhlmann Experience Centre - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The space showcases a selection of Kuhlmann furniture that was curated by Chiang. (Picture: Kuhlmann International)
“We came across Kuhlmann while we were looking for a modular factory that could support the planned expansion of Cube. From our track record with Cube, we had some customers who approached us for advice on how they could emulate the look and design in their homes,” says Tay.
Choa and Tay were already in serious discussions with Kuhlmann to bring the brand to Singapore by the start of 2019. “By 1Q2020, our discussions with them started to pick up pace and we decided to focus our time and energy on this project because it was scaling up quickly,” says Choa.
He adds that the Kuhlmann brand is closely associated with high-quality manufacturing coupled with luxury European designs. “The quality of furniture is as important as the tasteful design of the space. Without the factory producing such high-quality furniture, we wouldn’t be able to achieve this level of sophistication and the overall effect of luxury,” says Choa.
Kuhlmann Experience Centre - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The German brand manufactures high-quality furniture in bespoke European design.
Thus, their approach in Singapore is to work closely with architects and interior designers to craft meaningful and luxurious spaces, while introducing them to Kuhlmann products that are of high quality and boast an attractive price-point.
Kuhlmann has nearly a century of experience in precision-engineered home solutions. It specialises in offering a total home solution that encompasses kitchen furnishings, wardrobes, storage systems, loose furnishings and architectural interior finishes.
According to the manufacturer, modular interior components are produced in controlled factory environments, and are easy to assemble and replace. This flexibility and consistency is difficult to achieve in traditional construction, says Kuhlmann.
Choa says this type of efficient construction results in furnishings and finishes that cost about 30% less than comparable European-grade products in the market.

Singapore experience centre

Choa emphasises that while TMB is the official distributor of Kuhlmann products in Singapore, this does not mean they are not open to work with other established global brands.
For Kuhlmann products, the trio are in discussions with the manufacturer to open more experience centres like the one that was just opened in Singapore, in other countries in the region such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia. They are also keen to open more Kuhlmann offices and experience centres in Singapore.
Kuhlmann Experience Centre - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
An example of a walk-in wardrobe with fittings by Kuhlmann. (Picture: Kuhlmann International)
“We launched an experience centre in Singapore because we need to curate the collection of products and it allows us to showcase bespoke interior design ideas. Most of the homeowners that we cater to are accustomed to and familiar with luxury design from top designers,” says Chiang.
For example, they might have a design brief that says they want their home to look like an Andaz Hotel, or they want to furnish their weekend home in Sentosa Cove. Thus, these buyers want practical furniture and interior design but also a level of luxury they have come to expect, he says.
As creative director, Chiang works with clients in planning and designing their home interiors by offering solutions based on an extensive Kuhlmann portfolio of designs to suit individual lifestyle needs.
“Kuhlmann products are practical and built to last, but they also have beautiful details and are visually pleasing,” says Chiang. Some examples include solid-wood wall panels and sliding door hung along ceiling tracks rather than floor tracks. “These are the kinds of details that catch the eye of discerning customers, and we are here to provide such options for them,” he says.
Kuhlmann Experience Centre - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
Chiang wants to grow the number of Kuhlmann experience centres in Singapore and turn them into shared spaces for younger designers.
One of the most recent projects Chiang has completed is a condo unit at Seaside Residences. One challenge was to design living spaces that could feel airy and luxurious despite the tight space, especially in the living room. Selected pieces of Kuhlmann storage systems such as a glass wall showcase, the walk-in wardrobe and bedroom wardrobe were used, elevating the sense of luxury. (Discover insightful data of any Singapore condominium with our condo directory)
“I am blessed to have clients over the years who have entrusted me with their design vision for their projects,” says Chiang. “To be able to partner with a brand such as Kuhlmann International in bringing a higher quality of customised interior design for homes in Singapore is definitely the next trend in design.”

Shared space for designers

As the trio continue to build the Kuhlmann brand in Singapore, they also want to work closely with designers. “Our showroom is set up as a studio to enable the clients of these designers to feel at ease with the products, and this helps build their trust with their designer,” says Chiang.
He adds that many young and up-and-coming designers may not have the financial capability to build an office or a showroom to show off high-quality products to clients. He thinks that this kind of shared
office and showroom space for young designers will catch on with other interior designers who are eager to host high-end clients.
“It would be like a co-working space for designers and crafted to inspire, but the catch is, please use Kuhlmann products,” says Chiang.
Check out the latest listings near Seaside Residences, Sentosa Cove

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