Step into a psychedelic home filled with a retro style and designer classics, coming together to reflect the vibrant nature and bold, outgoing personality of its owners.
WHO A couple in their 30s
HOME Three-bedroom condominium unit in Sengkang
“I’m very fond of anything related to the 1970s, especially the era referred to as the Space Age – with designs that resemble astronaut helmets or spaceships,” enthuses Alvin Sim. His apartment, which he shares with his wife, Fion Chang, speaks for itself. It is furnished with around 400 such pieces, from chairs and turntables to lava lamps and decor pieces. Iconic design classics, such as an original 1950s George Nelson Marshmallow sofa, Eero Aarnio Ball chair and Louis Poulsen table lamps, can be spotted throughout. But besides both vintage and newly manufactured designer pieces from the era, Alvin collects anything and everything that looks retro and space age in style, he says.
The home, although filled with many things amassed over two decades, has an orderly look, thanks to the way the couple decided to “colour block” the interiors. They also engaged Kevin Teng of The Safe Haven, to carry out a basic functional renovation with new structures to match the look, and that would allow Alvin’s collection to take centre stage.
The designer customised loose and built-in furniture such as the TV console, sideboards, bed and kitchen cabinetry, with rounded edges and details specific to the retro style. The renovation cost $60,000.
We find out more about Alvin’s passion and how it reflects in his home.
When and how did you get interested in the retro style?
It was when I was 19, and a friend took me to a flea market at Sungei Road. We picked up a few vintage pieces there, and from then on my interest grew. It grew so strong that I started sourcing items from overseas, and have been collecting ever since.
What are the main characteristics of the look?
Rounded shapes – anything that resembles an astronaut helmet, the use of primary and solid colours, a futuristic appearance despite being old, and mostly being made of glossy plastic material.
Who are some of your favourite designers?
My favourite designers are Verner Panton and Eames. Most of my Verner Panton pieces are in the dining room; they are the pendant lamp, dining chairs and fabric framed as artwork. I also have an Eames Rocker chair in the bedroom.
Highlight your top three pieces.
I like everything a lot! But the first would be a vintage turntable in perfect condition – these days, you would often see one with a broken lid because of how fragile it is, but mine is in perfect condition so I treasure it a lot.
Next the Rotobar, which a side table that also serves as a bar. It resembles a spaceship and you can put wine bottles in it. It was shipped over from Holland. Finally, the Garden Egg chair. It looks like an egg when closed, but it is actually an armchair meant for outdoor use! It’s a rare piece I got from a private seller here and there are supposedly only two in Singapore – he has one and I have the other!
Where do you source your furniture from?
Mostly online on Ebay from Europe and the US. I also get some big furniture pieces locally, vintage ones from Lorgan’s, and classics from Space Furniture and Xtra.
How do you make sure your space is kept tidy and usable, with your growing collection?
Occupy all the walls and corners! I have also set a colour theme for the different spaces: the living room is orange, red and yellow; the bedroom is mostly green and yellow; the kitchen is white and orange. And if I come across pieces that are rare, I will sell a few items to make space. But I am only willing to do so if the piece is very hard to come by. I do get sentimental and have regretted letting some pieces go, but there is no choice, as this isn’t a warehouse! My wife an I have an agreement – if something comes, something must go.
Does your wife appreciate this look, too?
She nags me about spending a lot on the collection. But when guests come over, she will introduce the pieces to them. So I think she is proud of my collection, too!
How many pieces do you think you have in total here?
Around 300 to 400… or maybe even more!
WHERE TO GO
The Safe Haven, TEL: 9100-1396