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Contemporary condominium with steel rod sculpture by designer Pan Yi Cheng

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Modern apartment renovation with decor sculpture for shelving and storage

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An effective interior design responds to the needs and tastes of the homeowner. However, a visionary designer and trusting client can take this further, creating an environment that is an embodiment of the occupant's philosophies.

The owner of this two-level condominium, Woon Tai Ho, is an author, art collector, media director and critic. Having trialed two other designers, he eventually asked Pan Yi Cheng, of Produce, to reinvent the interior. The designer says Woon wanted an aesthetic that would be an expression of his character and sense of life.

Before the refit, the 10-year-old apartment was compartmentalized by internal walls that downplayed its two best features – a spectacular view to the Singapore CBD and the double-height void over the living spaces.

Pan says the new interior needed to reflect the owner's love of art, in particular the work of Han Sai Por, a noted local artist who creates strong, simple images through layering of detail. This, combined with the desire for a pared-back look that would show off the artistic process, led the designer to a stroke of inspiration and a design concept that his client embraced.

First, all the internal walls were removed, paring back the cluttered spaces. This optimized the connection to the central void and gave access to city views from all areas of the interior, says the designer.

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"The two bedroom apartment became one large single living space. As the owner lives there alone, privacy between areas wasn't an issue.

"Then I created a piece of ‘furniture' – a monoform that frames and connects all aspects of life in the 968sq ft apartment."

Built from steel rods, this connecting element serves as bookshelves in one area, as support for the dining table in another, and as a suspended wine rack above that. The metal rods also rise to form shelving on the upper level, accentuating the height of the void.

"Anchored in the concrete walls, the rods look like reinforcing for future formwork – a visual expression of the unfinished nature of the creative process," Pan says.

"Creating the entire piece with rectilinear forms would have been overbearing. Instead, I came up with an algorithm that set occasional rods on a slight diagonal, giving the lattice a more organic, random look."

To fit with the owner's desire to live simply, the kitchen is pared back. As Woon never cooks at home, there is just a single cooktop. The black cabinets and backpainted glass backsplash tone with the painted metal rods.

More black is seen on the 16ft-long dining table, which does double duty as a convenient work bench, says Pan.

"The wooden tabletop was torched to a deep black color – we left the edges natural so the firing process is evident. This treatment brings out the strong grain in the wood, as well."

Similarly, the owner asked for the concrete floors to be hand-troweled to enhance the look of a hand-made environment.

"We also created a simple, open bathroom area, but with individual spaces for the toilet and shower. These are enclosed by frosted glass panels, as is one of the two wardrobes on this upper level. A downstairs toilet is also screened by glass."

The square cantilevered concrete vanity basin fits with the linear interior, and appears to be suspended from the steelwork, giving it a feeling of lightness.

Steel, glass and raw finishes do evoke a light industrial feel. However, the designer's intent was to create an interior that would have a sum greater than its parts – a sculpture for living in. While the vistas created by the slender rods are ideal for showcasing art, the owner liked the final result so much that he added just three favorite works to the mix.

First published date: 18 April 2015

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Credit List

Designer Pan Yi Cheng, Produce Workshop (Singapore) Homeowner Woon Tai Ho
Doors and windows Existing
Flooring Cast in-situ concrete with sealer, natural
Lighting Recessed downlights
Blinds Venetian blinds in white by Kah Huat Textile
Furniture and artworks Collection of owner
Kitchen cabinetry Custom in black gloss laminate with black glass doors by Teck Lee General Contractors
Countertops and sinks Custom cast concrete in natural color
Backsplash Black backpainted glass by Glass Point Construction
Bathroom shower enclosure Custom glass by Glass Point Construction
Vanity Custom cast sink and vanity top by Produce
Bathroom flooring Concrete and Clays pewter tiles from Hafary Holdings