Recently reimagined Singaporean elegance at Marina Bay: LUX Checks In

Checking-in from the heat of a long day, MO’s calming presence of a vast ring of concentric rooms welcomes one in. Across its new colour scheme of pinks and greens, one feels that Wimbledon might just take some notes, to be lifted to a quiet Singaporean elegance.

The room had an immense view of Marina Bay’s iconic skyline (but safe from its heat): lay back, feet up, and helped myself to delicious Singaporean chocolates.

Singapore skyline with a pool

Up on the 5th floor, Mandarin Oriental’s 25-meter swimming pool looks over the Singapore skyline

Wandering around vast zen corridors, I checked out for myself what are supposedly world-renowned cocktails at the MO Bar. Dark blue suave, art deco chic – I had a reclaimed Singapore Sling to begin, naturally. It had a sweetness without overdoing it – and cutting beneath with jagged sourness  it was balanced by a bright lollipop – a humorous play on Singapore’s original historic drink.

A cake store with lavish decorations

Mandarin Oriental has various food stores and its cake shop has artisanal confectioneries, specialising in cakes, pastries, festive treats, and premium gifts for all occasions.

After their recent revamp, I’d like to see the room where the chemistry of cocktails takes place – it seems a Willy-Wonka-cum-James-Bond enterprise – and it delivers. Onto the ‘White Rabbit’ cocktail, made with an edible layer of an image of a White Rabbit, the type that slips onto the tongue and dissolves. But the real taste lies underneath, with a laksa tang.

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From fresh Singaporean breakfast to lunch the next day, I swanned up to the pool for a dip with another view of the skyline, before a welcome Italian twist. Ruinart blanc de blanc, antipasti, fish and exquisite cheese looking over the pool – what more could one want, apart from an Italian waiter himself serving with Mediterranean charm and gastronomic expertise? Well, it had that too.

Read More: Nira Alpina, St Moritz, Review

Night facade of Mandarin Oriental Singapore

Mandarin Oriental has 510 rooms, and 8 restaurants, also including MO BAR, The Spa, and a lounge and club HAUS 65.

A much needed massage at The Spa after months of London brought a zen which – well, I only wish I could maintain it in London, but without the Singaporean skyline and fresh noodles it won’t be so easy.

See More:

mandarinoriental.com

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a plate of food with green vegetables and red chilli
a plate of food with green vegetables and red chilli

Shisen Hanten’s signature steamed sliced kurobuta pork with chilli

Michelin-Star Singaporean Restaurant – renowned for high levels of food, and a view of Singapore from 35 levels high. LUX checks it out

Muted chandeliers, an almost debonair charm welcome one in – and the lights across night sky waving from fellow tall buildings, silhouetting the Singapore skyline.

a chef with lots of fire

Shisen Hanten’s Executive Chef, Chen Kentaro

We were served what is called the ‘Opulent Menu’ – something that Chef Kentaro likes to nimbly stretch across Szechwan cuisine with an embition menu, celebrating signature flavours of Shisen Hanten – a fusion, if you like – and traditional Cantonese flavours.

A fine Devaux Cuvée to start, to accompany a selection of (particularly succulent) prawn, pork and specially delicious bang bang chicken.

Next a Foie Gras Chawanmushi with Crab Roe soup. And the crab was so fresh that some guests, who didn’t like tripe, enjoyed these just fine.

a bowl with soup in it

Shisen Hanten’s Foie Gras Chawanmushi with Crab Roe Soup

But the freshness of a Wagyu Beef rose above itself, complimented by a glass of Torbreck. Tender, and served across an array of dishes.

a room with mood lighting, a large table and lots of chairs

Shisen Hanten is located on the thirty-fifth floor in Orchard, Singapore

Steamed lobster was cooked confidently, amply seasoned with its Yuzu soya sauce – retaining its juicy tenderness, and matched confidently by an Australian Chardonnay of a calm dry and the stir-fried tofu had a signature Singaporean fire unmatched.

a bowl with a red spicy-looking soup

Chef Chen’s Original Spicy Noodle Soup

Night was closing in, lights were beginning to turn out in the disciplined buildings of Singapore, but time for just one Szechwan jelly with delicious fresh fruit. One last sip of Chardonnay, before descending the many flights to the heart of the city below.

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Reading time: 1 min
man and woman sitting next to each other
man and woman sitting next to each other

Magnus Renfrew has twenty years’ experience in the international art world, the last decade of which have been spent in Asia

Magnus Renfrew knows about art fairs in Asia. He co-founded Art Hong Kong (now Art Basel Hong Kong) and has launched numerous other fairs in the region. He speaks with LUX about Art SG, the fair he and his partners launched in Singapore as a hub for Southeast Asia, the Asian art market, and the future of art fairs

LUX: Do you think Singapore will become an art and/or cultural hub for Southeast Asia? Why did you choose Singapore rather than (for example) Bangkok, Jakarta, or KL?

Magnus Renfrew: Each city is unique with individual strengths and spheres of influence. Singapore is the gateway to Southeast Asia and as the de facto hub for the region, which has a population of 650 million people nearing the size of Europe, so logic dictates that it too should host an international art fair to serve a region that has some of the fastest growing economies in the world. What’s more, Southeast Asia has a diverse and exciting range of cultural ecosystems, and we want to bring together these communities alongside the international art world. Singapore has exceptional infrastructure and transport links, great hotels and restaurants, English is commonly spoken, Mandarin is commonly spoken. All these factors make it an exceptional place to host a major international art fair.

Furthermore, Singapore has a strong local art scene, with local galleries and considerable government investment in art and culture, which sees an active interest in growing the ecosystem in the city. The city’s cultural landscape is developing rapidly with world class museums such as the National Gallery of Singapore, Singapore Art Museum, alongside a growing cluster of commercial galleries, and an increasingly engaged community of collectors. We saw the successful launch of our inaugural edition last year, and I am excited to see the fair continue to develop against this exciting backdrop.

The case for Singapore is continuing to build as it gains greater importance geo-economically, geo-politically and as the Asia centre of wealth management. Singapore is in the ascent in every aspect and culture will inevitably be a part of that story.

LUX: You have significant fairs in Japan and Taiwan. What is the secret of a successful art fair in East Asia?

MR: It is important to have a solid premise for the fair, to identify the natural catchment area, to focus on who the fair serves, and to build domestic and regional support from all stakeholders – the government, galleries, collectors, and institutions. There are no shortcuts and it takes time to build.

What are the differences between Art SG and Art HK at a similar stage?

MR: The overall context of the art market in Asia is of course very different and the collector base across Asia has developed out of all recognition. In a very short space of time ART SG has successfully been able to attract a geographically diverse audience from across Southeast Asia and beyond. The context for ART SG is very different. When we started ART HK there were few institutions and an art scene heavily focused on auctions – it is arguable that ART HK played a significant role in building the case for Hong Kong as a cultural hub and in encouraging collectors to understand the importance of the gallery system. Singapore’s art scene is much more established than Hong Kong was when we launched, with a vibrant gallery scene and exceptional institutions, as well as a pro-active private collectors and foundations. This was reflected in the extraordinary diversity and quality of offerings during Singapore Art Week.

ART SG has its own distinctive identity as an important meeting point for collectors and art lovers from Southeast Asia and around the world by bringing together the best of regional and international galleries and artists, alongside dynamic programming to deepen understanding of its cultural context.

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LUX: Second year of Art SG saw some galleries (Perrotin, Zwirner, Esther Schipper) not return – why? Will they be back?

MR: Galleries have a host of different reasons that play into their decision making including their own programming. Pace is going to be opening their space in Tokyo this year, so they will be participating in Tokyo Gendai for the first time. Perrotin has chosen to do Taipei Dangdai and Tokyo Gendai this year. A number of galleries who chose to sit out ART SG this year visited the Fair and expressed how impressed they were with the quality of attendance, the buzz and the energy. I would anticipate that we will be working again with those galleries in Singapore and elsewhere in the future.

Colourful art

Southeast Asia’s leading international art fair (ART SG), attracted 43’000 visitors in 2023.

LUX: How did this year’s edition do, commercially?

MR: We are delighted by the response to the second edition of ART SG. Throughout the fair’s four days, galleries reported speedy and sustained sales, with works placed in major private and institutional collections. Galleries highlighted an enthusiastic response from both established and emerging collectors from all corners of the world, with many noting that ART SG had provided a great platform for meeting new collectors.

A snapshot of reported sales include: Thaddeaus Ropac sold a work by Anselm Kiefer for EUR 1.1 million, alongside works by Lee Bul, Miquel Barceló, Jules de Balincourt, Alex Katz, Oliver Beer, Mandy El-Sayegh, and James Rosenquist; Sundaram Tagore sold a range of works by Hiroshi Senju, Jane Lee, Miya Ando, and Zheng Lu for a combined total of over USD 1 million; White Cube sold works by Tracey Emin, Jessica Rankin, and Darren Almond, among others for a combined total of GBP 1.5 million; Waddington Custot sold two sculptures by Barry Flanagan, including a work sold for USD 680,000 to a Chinese resident of Singapore, an installation featured as part of PLATFORM by Ian Davenport sold for USD 360,000 and two sculptures by Yves Dana, including a work for sold for USD 92,000 to a collector based in Singapore; Lehmann Maupin sold a number of works, including a painting by David Salle sold for USD 250,000 to a prominent family collection in Singapore, alongside multiple works by Lee Bul and Kim Yun Shin for prices within the range of USD 200,000 – 300,000 and USD 60,000 – 90,000 respectively; Johyun Gallery sold a number of works, including a painting by Park Seo-Bo for USD 250,000 and multiple works by Lee Bae for prices in the range of USD 50,000 – 180,000 each; The Back Room placed an installation by Marcos Kueh featured as part of PLATFORM to an institution in Singapore with a price range between SGD 50,000 – 100,000; First-time participant Sabrina Amrani sold three works by Carlos Aires within a price range of USD 27,000 – 60,000 to private collectors in Singapore; Asia Art Center sold a number of key works by Li Chen and three works from Ju Ming’s Tai Chi Series, all of which have been acquired by private collectors, with a total value of around USD 600,000; Waterhouse & Dodd sold four works by Duncan McCormick to private collectors in the UK, South Korea, Italy and Hong Kong for a combined total of USD 150,000; albertz benda reported a sold-out presentation of three new paintings and four mixed-media watercolours by Australian painter Del Kathryn Barton to a Chinese collector on the opening day; Carl Kostyál reported a sold-out booth of Indonesian artist Atreyu Moniaga, with works priced at USD 18,000 each; Harper’s sold a painting by Eliot Greenwald for USD 40,000 and a painting by Marcus Brutus for USD 32,000; and MAKASIINI CONTEMPORARY sold works by Nir Hod and Jacob Hashimoto for USD 68,000 and USD 40,000 to private collectors in Singapore and Belgium respectively.

Read more: Shangri-La, Singapore, Review

LUX: Some collectors said to us that official programming for significant collectors was limited compared with early years of Art HK. How would you respond to this?

MR: Within ART SG’s bespoke VIP program, collectors were able to tap into a vibrant and dynamic line up of art events, openings, and after-parties to enrich their experience of the overall fair and art week, including private collection visits in collectors’ residences, artist studio visits, gallery openings, and more. Collectors were able to RSVP to openings and curator-led tours of private collection and foundation exhibitions such as Translations: Afro-Asian Poetics by non-profit collector-led foundation The Institutum, curated by Dr Zoe Whitley, director of Chisenhale Gallery, London, Rough, presented by The Pierre Lorinet Collection, and Chronic Compulsions presented by The Private Museum, as well as tours of major museum exhibitions at the National Gallery of Singapore and Singapore Art Museum. There were after-hours events including specially curated art parties at the National Gallery Singapore, ArtScience Museum, and Soho Residency, and a young collectors’ party at a spectacular new venue with views over the Singapore skyline. Our collector programming also offered immersive art and food dining experiences created especially for ART SG, such as Indochina by Senang Supper Club which featured two Cambodian artists discussing their art and non-profit initiative in Siem Reap over a curated menu from the Indochina region; a walking tour of cultural precinct Kampong Glam led by award winning cookbook author Khir Johari and Michelin-starred chef Ivan Brehm; and a four-hands Afro-Asian dinner which reflected the narrative and curation of the Translations exhibition. In addition to the official programming by the fair, there were also a number of gallery dinners, collector-hosted evenings, and karaoke nights and many other parties to round off the week.

LUX: What will you change about the fair for 2025?

MR: We will be doubling down on VIP outreach across our core constituency of Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and also Vietnam, as well as markets with a resonance with Singapore, such as Australia, New Zealand, Chia and South Asia, and expanding the programming of the fair both within on-site and for collectors throughout the city. We will be working on more collaborations with privately owned museums and foundations, as alignment with collector-led initiatives that seek to make a difference is key to ART SG’s ambition to grow the regional ecosystem.

art exhibiton

The Art SG 2023 showcased an assembly of leading galleries from the region and around the world

LUX: What is the main collector base for Art SG?

MR: There is an established base of sophisticated collectors in Southeast Asia and a younger generation of new buyers who are hungry to engage with contemporary art.

Singapore is also increasingly home to the region’s wealth base as demonstrated by the growing number of family offices opening here, as well as its emerging position as Asia’s tech capital. This together with established international businesses and entrepreneurs recognising the benefits of Singapore as the base for their pan-Asian operations, provides the context for a rapidly developing, forward thinking and affluent collector base, who are increasingly engaging with Singapore’s rich cultural landscape.

Thousands of VIPs attended the preview day of ART SG’s highly anticipated second edition. Strong attendance from both local and international collectors and leading figures from institutions, museums, and foundations, hailing from Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia, Japan, Korea, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan as well as Europe and the US. Notable visitors include:

Collectors

  • Alan Lau, Hong Kong
  • Albert Lim & Linda Neo, Singapore
  • Alexander Tedja, Indonesia
  • Alina Xie, China
  • Andrew Xue, Founder of Pond Society, China & Singapore
  • Belinda Tanoto, Founder of Tanoto Art Foundation, Indonesia
  • Dato Noor Azman Mohd Nurdin, Malaysia
  • Disaphol Chansiri, Thailand
  • Ellie Lai, Taiwan
  • Eric Booth & Jean-Michel Beurdeley, MAIIAM, Thailand
  • Evan Chow, Hong Kong
  • Han Nefkens, Han Nefkens Foundation, Spain
  • Harayanto Adikoesoemo, Founder of Museum MACAN, Indonesia Iwan Kurniawan Lukminto, Founder of Tumurun Museum, Indonesia Jack Feng, China/Singapore
  • Ji Dahai, Founder of Yalv River Art Museum, China
  • Jim Amberson, Singapore
  • Justine Tek, Director and CEO, Yuz Museum, China
  • Kim & Lito Camacho, Singapore
  • Kit Bencharongkul, MOCA Bangkok, Thailand
  • Kulapat Yantrasast, USA
  • Leo Shih, Taiwan
  • Li Fan, Founder of Whale Art Museum, China & Singapore
  • Mike & Lou Samson, Philippines/Singapore
  • Nathan Gunawan, Indonesia/Singapore
  • Nishita Shah, Thailand
  • Patrick Sun, Founder of Sunpride Foundation, Hong Kong
  • Pierre Lorinet, Singapore
  • Pontiac Land Group, Singapore
  • Rath Osathanugroh, Thailand
  • Rudy Tseng, Taiwan
  • Rvisra Chirathivat, Thailand
  • Simon Cheong, Singapore
  • Shunji Oketa, Founder of Oketa Collection, Japan
  • Thomas Shao, Founder of the MetaMedia Group and the Shao Foundation, China TY Jiang, Les Yeux Art Foundation, USA
  • Wu Meng, M Art Foundation, China
  • Xiaoyang Peng, Founder of DRC No.12 space & The Bunker, China
  • Yang Bin, China

Institutions

  • Aaron Cezar, Founding Director, Delfina Foundation, UK
  • Aaron Seeto, Director, Museum MACAN, Indonesia
  • Derek Sulger, Co-Chairperson, UCCA, China
  • Eugene Tan, Director of National Gallery Singapore and Director of Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
  • Jessica S Hong, Senior Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, Toledo Museum, USA Judith Greer, Director of International Programmes for Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE
  • Lee Dong Kook, Director, GyeonGi Cultural Foundation and Gyeonggi Province Museum, Korea
  • Mami Kataoka, Director, Mori Art Museum, Japan
  • Pi Li, Head of Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong
  • Sook-Kyung Lee, Director, The Whitworth, Manchester & 14th Gwangju Biennale Stefano Rabolli Pansera, Director, Bangkok Kunsthalle, Thailand
  • Virginia Moon, Associate Curator, Korean Art, LACMA, USA
  • Xie Siwei, Museum Director, Yuz Museum, China
  • Xue Tan, Senior Curator, Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong
  • Zoe Whitley, Director, Chisenhale London, UK

LUX: Will art fairs remain strong commercially in the coming decades?

MR: Art fairs always have and will continue to play a crucial role in the art market.

The recent edition of ART SG saw 45,303 visitors across four show days, hailing from Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia, Japan, Korea, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan as well as Europe and the US – in increase from the 43,000 visitors who attended the inaugural edition. The strong international attendance from leading private collectors, as well as directors, curators, and patrons from international museums and institutions at ART SG is a testament to the importance and appeal of the fair as the region’s leading fair.

people talking to each other

Meaningful dialogues and insightful conversations were held alongside the Fair at ART SG 2023

LUX: Will Art SG help awareness of SE Asian Art grow on the global scene, or is that not the point?

MR: Definitely. As Southeast Asia’s leading art fair, ART SG invites the world’s leading collectors and art leaders to experience Singapore and all that the region has to offer, but also encourage a new generation of emerging collectors to be inspired by the rich diversity of art the region.

ART SG 2024 saw a strong line-up of Southeast Asian galleries making a dynamic debut at the fair, as well as some of the most significant galleries from across the region, featuring both established and emerging Southeast Asian artists. Some of the highlights include FOST Gallery (Singapore) which presented a a significant showcase reflecting recent contemporary art practice in Singapore and Southeast Asia, including Donna Ong, Eng Tow, Ian Woo, Wyn- Lyn Tan, as well as Elaine Roberto-Navas and Luis Antonio Santos; Gajah Gallery (Singapore, Jakarta, Yogyakarta) which showed renowned artists from the region including Suzann Victor, Yunizar and Uji “Hahan” Handoko Eko Saputro; and BANGKOK CITYCITY (Bangkok), whose first-time participation featured a new installation by Tanatchai Bandasak, large-scale paintings by street artist Alex Face inspired by significant political movements in Thailand, and works by renowned Thai artist Korakrit Arunanondchai featuring his classic motifs of denim, fire and mythical imagery, among others.

artsg.com

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Reading time: 12 min
Big pool at a nice hotel
Big pool at a nice hotel

The stunning pool area of the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore

The Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore offers a tropical sanctuary  in the heart of the city. LUX checks in

Singapore’s hawker food is the street food of legend and even features in gastronomic guides. But while the food is astonishing, the stress of getting a table is less so. And much as it is fun to be crammed in with others buzzing with the same experience, sometimes you crave peace. And you do need an appetite for the equatorial heat. We took our Singapore laksa with vintage champagne, in pure tranquillity, in a temperature-controlled garden room, looking over lush plantations, a lawn and a swimming pool. How? The Shangri-La brings the street food to the hotel guests, that’s how.

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At the Line kitchen pop-ups, real street-food chefs from guest hawker stalls, including Habib’s Rojak, cook in the hotel kitchens. It doesn’t replace the authentic experience, but having just landed from Qatar it suited us. After lunch, we wandered down to the huge outdoor pool to swim a few lengths before drifting into the spa for a restorative treatment. The Shangri-La is not among the newest of Singapore’s luxury hotels, but, as seasoned travellers know, newness does not always mean improvement.

hotel lobby with lots of plants

The Hotel Lobby Lounge is equipped with a lot of green plants in the Tower Wing

Read more: Waku Ghin, Singapore, Review

A new developer might have been tempted to build over the rich tropical gardens, or make a smaller pool. There’s also the danger of design to social media. A space made to look good on Instagram is not always good to be in, and this is very true of bars, where bold shapes detract from the dreamy ambiance that makes a good bar. And the Shangri-La has a good bar. The Origin is dark, full of corners and has a long wooden bar for sitting at. We asked for a gin southside margarita, a hybrid cocktail of my own invention, and were pleased, although not surprised, that the bartender knew the ingredients.

nice room with great interior

The rose veranda has a high tea set menu, designed to continue afternoon traditions of luxurious tête-à-têtes over dainty sandwiches, delectable pastries and freshly baked scones served with clotted cream.

This joint effort was so delightful we had another. And another. In Singapore, you want a room with a view, and our suite had just that: high over the gardens and high-rises of the Orchard area. The room was conventional luxury, and all the better for it. To end the day, a charming wander through the gardens, then sitting poolside by a tropical fruit tree at midnight, bracing for another day.

big hotel building with lots of green

Nestled within 15 acres of tropical landscaped gardens, guests are warmly embraced by the hotel’s distinct service and smiles.

shangri-la.com

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restaurant asian
restaurant asian

Designed by award-winning Japanese designer Yohei Akao, the dining space integrates natural materials and intricate details, an ode to nature and heritage

Hidden away on the second floor, overlooking hundreds of croupier hands shuffling and dealing in the casino below, is Waku Ghin. LUX inspects the two-Michelin starred Japanese fusion restaurant in Marina Bay shopping centre, Singapore.

Past the suave darkness of the main area, with walls adorned with dark wood and striking art, and a bar teeming with sakés, is a private room, reserved for the chef’s omakase. One sits, cocooned by lighter wood panneling, at a table opposite the chef’s knives and metal, a stove, spices. The chef, in arm’s reach, sharpens his knives. His sous-chef – stick of fresh wasabi in hand, resembling something between a turnip and a thick leek – mashes it to its bright green pulp. The ancient Japanese ritual begins.

The chefs bring out a vast white polystyrene tray, as you see in fishmongers, with fresh fish. Abalone, twitching at the touch, Carabinero prawns, sea urchins, snapper, uroko. But fusion can be flimsy, and non-committal. Would we lose the natural juice of the French Royale oyster to the overpowering salt and spices of ginger and rice vinegar?

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A chemist’s nose follows these flavours and textures, balanced rather then strewn. As with the marinated prawn in sea urchin – the balance of sweet, almost fruity tastes is careful, rather than overbearing. It’s a visual pleasure, too, its orange body sitting boldly in a black shell.

Asian restaurant out of wood

Experience the new sushi omakase at the private Sushi Room customised for four where diners can get a taste of the finest regional delicacies of Japan

Black truffle and caviar are not attention-seeking but sit subtly alongside, with Oscietra caviar preserved at the very lowest salt-level. The carabinero prawn, vast and dealt with by some sort of saber and a dome, flashed in from of us like an elegant medieval duel. And fear not the fiery wrath of wasabi paste; fresh wasabi is a far milder and more succulent cry. (This makes resoundingly clear the sad fact that most so-called ‘wasabi’ consists solely of turnip and flavouring.) And it prods rather than murders its accompanying red marbled, tender and peppery wagyu sushi, slung elegantly across rice with a dip of citrus soy sauce.

After this we are presented the Amadai Uroko with Maitake Mushroom and Mizuna. The uroko, a type of Japanese tilefish with very thin skin, easier to pincer, puffs up immensely under the heat of the metal stove in front of us, under the expert hand of Executive Chef, Masahiko Inoue. And here is the freshness of the mushrooms; quiet, modest, delicious.

Read more: Rosewood Hong Kong review

Goodbye to the chefs – we are whizzed off to the dessert room, and eased slowly back to reality. One remembers than one is not in a cave in Mount Fuji but, overlooking chandeliers and Gucci, in Singapore’s shopping centre. After many courses, I manage one last one, of Mandarin Granita and White Rum Jelly, luckily unlike the English trifle, where jelly can be a tyrannical dictator. Alongside, the balance of sesame ice-cream and hojicha Chantilly (a type of Japanese green tea, served in puffs) provides a conversation of nut and herb, of temperatures, of colours.

Stylish bar with red chairs

For a more casual night out, the extended bar dining area features Chef Tetsuya’s timeless cuisine

Lest we forget the wines… after a deliciously dry saké at the bar, wines with notes of green apple, honey and lemon lended a staccato crispness, structuring and pierces these flavours, after a deliciously dry saké at the bar. From the Rhone, a delicious Julius Pylon 2021, made specially for Chef Tetsuya, served in a burgundy glass to elevate its spicy aroma, finishing with a glass of Pantelleria, the Sicilian dessert wine which cuts through dessert perfectly with a sort of Scott-Joplin hops of sweetness.

Japanese-born, Sydney-based Chef Tetsuya hinges on untampered fresh produce, Japanese umami and meditteranean herbs. Entering back into Marina Bay Sands, beyond the casino deck, beyond its twinkling lights, to Singapore’s skyline: it has, like Tetsuya’s fusion, that balance of careful, winking acuity.

cocktail being poured into a glass

Pair your experience with an extensive list of handcrafted drinks including bespoke brews from Isojiman and Masuizumi.

https://www.marinabaysands.com/restaurants/waku-ghin.html

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Reading time: 3 min
Man and woman standing next to each other

Chong Huai Seng is one of Singapore’s most respected collectors. He and his daughter Ning Chong, a first mover in art investment advisory, speak with LUX Leaders and Philanthropists Editor Samantha Welsh about the future of art as an investment of passion

When international banker Chong Huai Seng started buying art in the 1980s, he could not have imagined growing a collection that would catalyse a forum for South East Asia’s prominent collectors, artists and experts; nor that in co-founding a gallery The Culture Story with his daughter, Ning Chong, she herself would see a gap for a specialist art investment advisory and would go on to found the Family Office for Art (FOfA). Father and daughter share their approach and insights into dealing with passion assets such as art

When did your collecting journey start?

Mr Huai Seng Chong: My collecting journey started in the mid 80’s when I was a stock broker and I used to travel to London frequently for business trips. I loved traipsing around Mayfair, dipping in and out of galleries. I started buying British sculpture and Russian paintings, very unusual because most people start buying art from their own country. I was merely responding to what I like, my daughter likes to call it “retail therapy” at a time before the internet, and all you had, was to trust your instinct and sensibilities.

Nina Chong: About seven years ago, I introduced some governance to my father’s art collection, cataloguing and art collection management and to assess the strengths of the collection and where we should focus our future acquisitions. With that, we are able to identify themes within the collection, and Dad always enjoys selecting and curating the pieces which we put up in our private gallery The Culture Story. Personally I started my own collection a mere two – three years ago. I realised I had a point of view, which was different from my father’s and there were certain artists and themes which resonated more strongly with me, as a new mother, as an entrepreneur.

Man and woman standing next to each other

Mr Huai Seng Chong and his daughter Ms Ning Chong are two of Singapore’s most respected collectors.

How did you decide a career as an art professional was for you?

CHS: Art collecting started as a hobby for me, almost forty years ago! I never thought this is something I would continue to do, and now this hobby has turned into a business venture between me and my daughter. This is something we did not plan to do, but I’m happy that we are on this adventure together.

NC: When I was young, I was surrounded by works of art and as a family we used to follow my Dad to visit galleries on the weekend. It was only after graduation, when I didn’t want to pursue banking or finance that my father nudged me to consider the art world. I did my own research, including a few internships in London before I decided that I would commit and pursue a career in the arts. It took me a long time to get to where I am, looking back it has been very rewarding to work in different areas such as art fairs, auction house, galleries to government policy work, it has given me a very comprehensive overview of the art ecosystem.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

What was the vision behind The Culture Story?

CHS: We started The Culture Story in June 2017 as a private gallery, like Gertrude Stein salon’s setting in her Paris apartment in the 1920s where artists, poets, writers, thinkers would get together and make merry. For us, we wanted to create a cosy environment where we can share works from our family collection, and encourage other collectors to collaborate with us. By organising exhibitions and hosting talks with artists, collectors and art world professionals, The Culture Story aims to promote greater understanding and discourse around art and foster connoisseurship.

How has the mission and collection evolved?

CHS: We are still very much following the mission we set out for The Culture Story at the beginning. The Singapore art scene has matured significantly and we are at a stage where other art collectors are open to collaborate with us. They are happy to share work(s) from their private collection, especially when they encounter feedback from members of the public, students or other art collectors and professionals.

Images hanging inside an art gallery

“Collecting Bodies: a short story about art and nudity in Asia” with works on loan from 10 art collectors

NC: We try to focus on a few themes amongst our family collection. Recently, we have loaned some of our works to museums for various exhibitions. One in particular is an early Kim Lim sculpture which is currently on view at the Hepworth Wakefield Museum in Yorkshire, United Kingdom. Later this year, the entire exhibition will travel to the National Gallery Singapore for her long-await retrospective exhibition.

We also loaned paintings by Futura and Timothy Curtis to Art Science Museum in Singapore for an exhibition called Sneakertopia, which celebrated everything related to the rise of street culture and pop art, and the phenomena of sneaker culture.

Man standing next to a sculpture

Kim Lim at Hepworth: the first major museum exhibition of Lim’s work since 1999, offering unparalleled insight into the artist’s life and work.

Artsworks shown in a room

Futura and Timothy Curtis at the Art Science Museum

Where has your acquisition strategy been particularly effective in nurturing innovative artists?

CHS: I like to support Singapore’s young and emerging artists. There is one artist in particular Hilmi Johandi whom I spotted almost fifteen years ago at the Affordable Art Fair in Singapore in 2011, today he is represented by OTA Fine Art, one of Japan’s leading contemporary art galleries who also represents Yayoi Kusama. I commissioned Hilmi to create a family portrait for us. Since then I support his practice by buying a work from every new series.

Colourful art painting

Hilmi Johandi works primarily with painting and explores interventions with new media that are associated within the domain of framing, fragmentation and compression

What is it about the Asian art market and intergenerational wealth transfer that created demand for the Family Office for Art (FOFA)?

NC: The South East Asian art market is still a young one, over the two decades we have seen significant progress with the emergence of galleries, art fairs, biennales, dealers and private museums etc.

Two years ago, I identified a gap in the industry, and I felt there were many things I could offer and help other collectors, the same way I used my skills and experience to maintain my father’s art collection. Most wealthy families have their financial assets and businesses handled by their private banker or family office, more often than not, the soft assets such as art and collectibles are overlooked or neglected. However these “passion assets” are very much part of the principle’s estate and his/her legacy. I’ve been studying this space for some time and I’ve learnt that with a proper system in place, it is a significant step towards protecting and enhancing the art collection’s commercial and cultural value.

At FOFA, we understand that dealing with passion assets such as art can be emotional and sentimental, and more often than not, it would require some degree of family involvement. These types of discussions and conversations are not unfamiliar to us and may take a long time to materialise, so our approach is to take a long term view and invest in these relationships.

Read more: Yulia Iosilzon’s groundbreaking new show in London

Based in Singapore, we are well-positioned to meet and serve Asian collectors in the region. Over the next decade and even in present times, it has been said that there will be unprecedented levels of wealth transfer in Asia. Given our first mover advantage and as we continue to grow and widen our international network, FOFA is ready to help families look after and manage their passions or alternative assets such as fine art and collectibles.

 

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Reading time: 6 min
A woman sitting on a char with a another woman resting on the armrest.
A woman sitting on a char with a another woman resting on the armrest.

Aurelie Cauchy and Leslie Ramos, founders of The Twentieth © Juan Cuartas Rueda

Leslie Ramos and Aurelie Cauchy are co-founders of The Twentieth, a pioneering art advisory that focuses on supporting the arts and culture. Following the launch of Ramos’ book, Philanthropy in the Arts: A Game of Give and Take, Samantha Welsh speaks to the founders of The Twentieth about the new generation of philanthropists emerging from around the world, with different motivations and priorities and what the future holds for arts philanthropy given the rapidly changing landscape

LUX: What compelled you to layer arts philanthropy onto traditional arts advisory?
Leslie Ramos: The simple answer is that we spotted a gap in the market. We saw more and more aspiring collectors coming to the art world eager to support the ecosystem they admired, but they would find that although there were many people helping them buy and sell, there was almost nobody actively encouraging them to give back and helping them to do it.

Aurelie Cauchy: Moreover, we also feel that the art world in general is becoming increasingly dominated by the art market, focusing very strongly on sales, sales, and more sales. We wanted to build something that tried to push back against that a bit and in a small way remind people that a good collector is someone who also cares about the art world ecosystem.

LUX: Does arts philanthropy today bear any resemblance to its origins?
LR: The basic system of the most privileged in society actively supporting something they care about hasn’t changed much. What does change all the time are the underlying dynamics, like people’s motivations. We are seeing a real shift today in the role status has in philanthropy, with younger philanthropists being much less keen to have their names carved above doorways, for example.

AC: The pandemic has also reinforced the desire to help locally, with a focus on causes such as health and poverty, at a moment when social justice became more prominent than ever. Without taking anything away from other extremely pressing causes, one of the missions that we feel we have is to show philanthropists how supporting the arts can be an effective way of addressing these other societal causes and something that should sit as part of their wider philanthropic portfolio.

people sitting around a coffee table hosting a panel discussion

The European Fine Art Foundation panel discussion on next gen collecting and philanthropy at the Art Business Conference in 2023 © David Owens

LUX: Why is arts-funding important amidst crises in education and healthcare provision?
AC: It is true that causes like poverty, health, and children will always, and perhaps should always, be more important causes for philanthropy than the arts, but that doesn’t mean the arts should be ignored. For one, art has incredible power within societies. As Leslie wrote in her book, ‘The power of art shows us that humans can dream and think about the world not only as it is, but as it could be’, and in this regard the arts are particularly powerful in conveying important messages about the world and society.

LR: One example that I think is quite potent and that I tell our clients, is to look at what the philanthropist Jeff Skoll has done with his film production company Participant Media. Almost every film in the past 20 years, that has spurred real conversation about important issues facing society, has been funded by Skoll. The collector and philanthropist Sarah Arison also described this very well when I interviewed her for my book. She said that, for her, we must change the way we think of the arts, not as siloed disciplines but collaborative and interconnected, and this is crucial to bringing awareness to all sorts of issues.

In the end, it is critical for people to really care about what they support. This is why the experiential and social part of the art world is actually quite valuable – the events, galas, previews, and perks offered to supporters are not only quite fun, but they help people learn and be more comfortable.

It is also why we guide (or drag!) our clients to artists’ studios, museums, and non-profits of all sizes to really understand what their money can do and reassure them that it will be well spent.

A gold tent outside

Jesus Rafael Soto, Penetrable, 1992. © Archives Fondation Maeght

LUX: You also advise museums and non-profits, artists, and some brands as well?
LR: Yes, we do a lot of work with museums and non-profits, advising them on all sorts of things, but mostly around improving their financial resilience or helping them execute their vision. Aurelie has been doing a lot of work with the Centre Pompidou, expanding its international circle of donors, especially throughout the US, to support the enrichment of its collections. At the same time, I have been working closely with the Fondation Maeght in the South of France, helping them build their first patrons’ scheme with supporters from across the world, and advising them on their capital campaign for a new extension due in 2024.

AC: Our work with artists and brands is not so dissimilar to what we do with collectors. Often successful artists get to a point when they want to give back and we help them build their philanthropic initiatives, like foundations and artist residencies. Likewise, many brands, particularly luxury brands, are looking for genuine engagement with the arts, whether it’s through strategic collaborations or philanthropic initiatives that resonate with their ethos and serve their client-centric strategy, corporate social responsibility, and branding.

LUX: How do you work with individual clients in terms of evaluating their intentions and guiding them?
AC: It varies slightly from client to client. One thing is enthusiasts taking their first steps in the art world, perhaps starting a collection, or beginning to get involved with institutions in a meaningful way. Theirs is more a process of discovery initially, seeing what resonates. Whereas long-term supporters who want to take their philanthropy to the next level and perhaps build their own foundation, for them it’s more about refining and executing their vision.

The common thread is that we view our role as a catalyst, helping our clients become respected forces in the arts and culture world. This means being independent, unbiased, and transparent, which is why, for example, we do not charge commissions on transactions like a lot of advisors do. We would rather that our clients can trust us and be sure our advice is completely independent than constantly feeling pressured to spend.

The other side of the coin is that we only work with clients who are, or want to be, philanthropic. We are very clear with that and we are different from most arts advisors in that regard.

A woman with borwn hair holding a pink boo by a table stacked with pink books.

Leslie Ramos at the launch of ‘Philanthropy in the Arts, A Game of Give and Take’, published by Lund Humphries in collaboration with Sotheby’s Institute of Art

LUX: Are there barriers and what is the approach to impact measurement?
LR: While measuring impact to some extent is valuable, it is much more so to identify non-profits who know what they are doing and whose mission aligns with the giver and then trust them to do what they do best. I think the best arts philanthropists instinctively understand the positive effect the arts can have. So many studies have shown the proven positive effects on mental health as well as the positive economic impact on communities.

LUX: How are newer players influencing codes and interactions?
AC: It’s difficult to summarise because there are new people coming to the arts from all over the place. Of course, a lot of the attention recently has been on the tech money, but although it might be a stereotype to say that tech millionaires have no interest in arts and culture, it does seem, for now, to be the case. There are exceptions of course, like Sean Parker’s Parker Foundation or Komal Shah and Gaurav Garg’s Shah Garg Foundation. Both are important collectors and philanthropists from that world doing truly wonderful work.

One of the most interesting areas of the world that we are keeping our eyes on is South-East Asia and the new generation of collectors in places like Singapore, Indonesia, and Taiwan. Indonesia especially is an incredibly charitable society with a high value placed on the arts. India has also recently seen the rise of its UHNW population, with first generation wealth and inter-generational givers alike showing great interest in strengthening the philanthropic culture and infrastructure.

LUX: Where is private philanthropy leading national conversations through art discourse?
LR: Private support can often act faster than governments and be more curious and less risk averse. This means that in countries where there is yet to be a state-backed cultural support system, philanthropists are often key to giving artists and non-profits the resources they need. After all, artists can be found everywhere, and thank goodness for that!

A lit up house in the evening with a pool and trees around it

Eacheve, the independent non-profit organisation dedicated to creating new opportunities for Ecuadorian artists © Intemperie Studio

Take, for example, the work being done by the Ecuadorian arts foundation EACHEVE. For a few years now, the founder, Eliana Hidalgo, has been determined to give Ecuadorian artists global exposure and opportunities, supporting residencies, exhibitions, publications and soon a permanent exhibition space in Guayaquil. EACHEVE even published the first ever compendium of contemporary Ecuadorian artists, a book that has become a global reference and the first of its kind. This kind of work is where philanthropy can take a lead, and when done well, it can also be ‘contagious’, encouraging others to get behind a great cause and ultimately influence state decisions.

LUX: How can the State incentivise and direct giving?
LR: State support is critical in providing a supportive environment for philanthropy, and this doesn’t just mean providing tax incentives or funding matching programmes. Although they do work, it’s more about providing a framework and actively incentivising more philanthropists more holistically within your country.

Singapore is a great example of this. They have extended their (massive) 250% tax deductions for donations to 2026 to foster a culture of philanthropy, but it is combined with their SG Arts Plan (2023-2027), developed by the National Arts Council, which is designed to invigorate the art world more generally.

This is something I am hoping future UK governments will start improving because recently encouraging philanthropy in the UK has been neglected, in my opinion. In part, this is because it is viewed as a rather unfavourable thing to support politically. Having launched a successful £80m scheme to encourage more philanthropy in 2010, since then the current UK government has done very little. As things stand, the wealthiest in UK society only give a miserly 1% of their income to charity every year.

A building with a tube slide across it

Centre Pompidou

LUX: Is there a downside to state intervention?
LR: Without wanting to get too caught up in a rather complex topic, there are obviously issues with censorship and oppression of artists and creatives in many parts of the world. Equally, there are many examples of populist governments taking control of museums and cultural organisations by putting their cronies in charge.

But I still believe that perhaps the most damaging thing a state can do is be ambivalent. This was often the case in Italy in the past, where especially state museums were resting on their laurels and simply stagnant. In 2014, the newspapers in Italy gleefully reported that the restaurant at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York made more money in a year than all of Italy’s museums combined. But since then, new government initiatives, the growth in corporate sponsorship from big Italian companies, particularly the luxury sector, and a general sense of key people wanting to put in more effort, means things are slowly going in the right direction.

LUX: How optimistic are you that arts philanthropy can catalyse a better world?
AC: Arts philanthropy is vital to fill the gaps, supporting artists, art education, and art institutions that struggle to secure adequate funding from just government and commercial sources.

Take arts institutions, from leading museums to small non-profits, who are the many beating hearts of the art world, it is important to allow them to continue their invaluable work and survive. The former Met CEO Dan Weiss wrote a wonderful book on the subject, saying that “museums have played a vital role in our culture, drawing on Enlightenment ideals in shaping ideas, advancing learning, fostering community, and providing spaces of beauty and permanence”.

A woman wearing an orange and pink top speaking to a man sitting on a couch

Aaron Cezar, founding director of the Delfina Foundation in conversation with Leslie Ramos

Arts philanthropy is there for these institutions to ensure they can navigate a challenging landscape with financial resilience and be sustainable, relevant, and impactful in the long run, and in the end, it helps create a more vibrant and diverse society where everyone, regardless of background or financial means, can have access to art and culture.

LR: At the same time, I would like to finish on a sentiment that was shared by Darren Walker, the President of the Ford Foundation, in a recent interview. Walker, a great advocate for philanthropy, had come across something Martin Luther King Jr. had written, where King had pointed out that although commendable, philanthropists should recognise the economic injustice that makes philanthropy necessary. “King was saying that, yes, the work of philanthropy must be about charity and about generosity”, Walker said. “But it should also be about justice and dignity … It requires of the philanthropist an interrogation of our own complicity in the very problems we are seeking to solve.”

Find out more: thetwentieth.com

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Reading time: 11 min
A woman wearing a black top standing next to a white and black wall
children in yellow tops playing with a big silver ball

ArtOutreach public sculpture tour for students

Mae Anderson, serves as the chairman of Art Outreach, a non-profit organisation committed to promoting art appreciation and nurturing the connections within Singapore’s art community. Mae’s contributions extend to her role as the Head of Philanthropy Services Asia at BNP Paribas Wealth Management, where she collaborates with clients to bring their philanthropic visions to life

LUX: How has your personal philanthropy informed your corporate role?
Mae Anderson: My experiences in the philanthropic sector have reinforced for me the importance of aligning business values with social responsibility. This is essential to benefit the communities we serve and to enhance the reputation and sustainable values of the organisation. Corporate philanthropy is not just a matter of financial contributions; it is about creating meaningful, sustainable change by strategically leveraging resources and expertise. I prioritise building strong relationships with nonprofits, community leaders, and clients who share our commitment to making a positive difference. This collaborative approach has proven instrumental in developing effective philanthropic strategies that maximise our impact.

A woman wearing a black top standing next to a white and black wall

Mae Anderson, , posed against a mural by Singaporean artist, Chris Chai

LUX: Why was Art Outreach founded and what were the early successes?
MA: Art Outreach was founded to introduce art appreciation into Singapore’s education system, particularly in elementary schools where the focus was primarily on art making, and where there was a lack of emphasis on art appreciation, compounded by a shortage of trained art teachers and limited exposure to the humanities. 20 years on, there have been significant changes in the education landscape In the early stages, our volunteers were trained to deliver free art lessons to local classrooms and played a crucial role in enriching students’ visual literacy and cultural awareness. These early efforts successfully addressed the need for art appreciation, fostering a greater understanding of cultural diversity and societal dynamics among young learners, addressing a crucial need in the education system while adapting to the changing educational landscape.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: What is behind the wave of interest in cultural philanthropy in Singapore and the South Asia region?
MA: There are several interconnected factors. First, there is the desire to preserve and celebrate cultural heritage. In an increasingly globalised world, people recognise the importance of safeguarding and promoting their unique traditions, arts, and history, fostering a deeper connection to one’s roots and a sense of cultural pride. The region’s economic growth has played a pivotal role.

A man holding a film camera standing around people

Level Up by curator, John Tung, one of a series of professional development workshops run by Art Outreach. In this workshop, participants learned the finer points of art installation

The rise of the middle class with disposable income opens doors, and as people become more financially secure, they seek meaningful ways to give back to their communities and support cultural initiatives that resonate with their values and aspirations, further fuelling the interest in cultural philanthropy. Governments in the region have introduced policies and incentives to drive private investment into cultural projects and institutions. Further, cultural attractions draw tourists , enhancing exchequers and soft power, Finally, the emergence of the mega-wealthy 1%, catalyses support for cultural initiatives and leads collaborations.

blue flower lights hanging in the dark

Benedict Yu, from 生 Rebirth as part of 醉生夢死 erosion, his solo exhibition at Art Outreach in August 2021

LUX: How has Art Outreach evolved an ecosystem for all stakeholders?
MA: As explained, we began by seeding art education within local elementary schools set about creating an art landscape. We extended our reach to communities through public programmes, discussions, and tours. This made contemporary art more accessible and relatable to local audiences. We support emerging artists through initiatives like the IMPART Art Prize to offer holistic support and foster the development of artists championing Singaporean art.

Two women standing by a wooden table with objects in glass frames on the table

Artist, Berny Tan (left), and curator, Kirti Upadhyaya, against Berny’s artworks from Along The Lines Of – her solo exhibition at Art Outreach in August 2023

From 2024, our Art Outreach Summit will offer artists mentorship, networking opportunities, and a platform to showcase their work, as well as practical programmes such as installation and lighting. More strategically, we enter into public and private partnerships around events and activations. So we serve the range of stakeholders.

children in green and white uniform sitting on the floor with their hands in the air

ArtOutreach primary school classroom programme

LUX: What is the role for private collectors of contemporary art in Singapore?
MA: Private collectors are custodians of cultural heritage, preserving and showcasing contemporary artworks that provide insights into the evolution of artistic expression and cultural trends. Through their acquisitions, they are patrons of emerging talents and established names, pushing the boundaries of artistic expression, opening their homes or private exhibition spaces to the public, elevating the profile of Singaporean art on the global stage and fostering educational and cultural exchange. Finally, the donation of artworks or funds to cultural institutions and nonprofit organisations, has a lasting impact on the sustainability of the arts ecosystem.

people standing by an escalator on a mezzanin

ArtOutreach Art In Transit Tour, Promenade Station. This is a walking tour of the artworks installed in Singapore subway stations

LUX: How should art philanthropists plan so they give effectively?
MA: Effective art philanthropy begins with a clear mission and values aligned with the art landscape and national priorities. Philanthropists should thoroughly research organisations, projects, or artists that match the mission, and then identify gaps and areas where their contributions can make a difference. Establishing clear, measurable goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) can guide their philanthropic efforts and evaluate impact. Philanthropists can diversify their giving portfolio and consider strategic partnerships with like-minded organisations to amplify their impact and bring diverse perspectives.

Children wearing costumes

Art Outreach children’s art workshop

They should assume longterm commitment to foster lasting change and address evolving needs within the arts community. It is critical to implement systems for measuring impact, remain adaptable, and be responsive to changing circumstances or emerging needs in the arts landscape.

Read more: Aliya and Farouk Khan on the Malaysian contemporary art scene

Actively engaging with artists, cultural institutions, and the broader arts community allows philanthropists to stay connected, and they must adhere to ethical principles, be transparent, and respect artists’ rights. You should consider legacy and tax planning and remember that public engagement can inspire others to support the arts.

A woman playing with string on a tapestry hung on a wall

Textile Artist,Tiffany Loy, against her artworks from Lines In Space, her solo exhibition at Art Outreach in January 2023

LUX: How can connectivity and data help in scaling the impact regionally?
MA: Data analysis empowers philanthropists to understand specific regional needs and priorities, to identify areas where their contributions can maximise impacts, and to connect with local organisations and initiatives. By collecting and analysing data in real-time, they decide where best to allocate resources. By collaborating, donors leverage their resources more efficiently, engage directly with regional communities, scale effectively, advocate, share experience, measure impact, and together drive long term change.

LUX: What is your personal advice to a client embarking on their philanthropy journey?
MA: Trust in your passion and purpose. Philanthropy is about making a positive impact on the causes that matter most to you. Sustainable change takes time so persevere. Finally, stay humble and open to learning and let that inspire your growth as a philanthropist.

Find out more: artoutreachsingapore.org

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Reading time: 6 min
Hotel balcony overlooking Marina Bay at night

Looking over Marina Bay from the Club Lounge, Ritz-Carlton Millenia, Singapore

In the third part of our luxury travel views column from the Spring/Summer 2023 issue, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks in at The Ritz-Carlton Millenia, Singapore

What drew us there?

Some city hotels have spectacular views of nature – such as those in Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town. Others have dramatic city views, as in Hong Kong and Tokyo. From our suite on the 26th floor at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia, Singapore, we had both. At night, the irregular oval of Marina Bay lit up before us, the spires and curves of its buildings encircling the bay, while the Apple and Louis Vuitton buildings floated on the water amid the ferries. Beyond the skyscrapers was the oil-tanker traffic on the Singapore Strait. We had the nature of an equatorial peninsula and one of the world’s most dynamic financial centres, all in one view.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The refined living room of the Ritz Suite

How was the stay?

Stroll through the Ritz-Carlton lobby and you are in the centrepiece luxury hotel of a self-confident city. Ceilings are high, artworks are dramatic and well curated, and the energy levels suggest this is the place to be, in the place to be.

A perfect way to experience the hotel’s vista is from the Club Lounge on the 32nd floor. Here, we watched the sky turn orange, purple and blue (a mix of haze and effects from the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia), while drinking Rothschild champagne. The lounge has alcoves and a private room and feels very grown up.

Singapore has become a city that celebrates fine drinking as much as it does fine dining, as we saw later, downstairs in the Republic bar. The bar, voted one of the best in Asia, is 1960s themed. Decor is suitably period, and bottles of spirits and liqueurs from the era are available for drinking or mixing. You can order a Singapore sling, but that is considered a little touristic, and we weren’t brave enough to try a shot of Ramazzotti liqueur from 1960, but the stylish bartender mixed us two excellent dirty martinis. They say Singapore has taken some of the creative zing from Hong Kong. At the Republic, at least, that seemed true.

For a different experience and view, head to the hotel pool. Set in a tropical grove just below the entrance, it is sheltered from the rest of the city – a huge outdoor pool with a restful vibe.

Read more: Royal Riviera, Côte d’Azur Review

Our room was as peaceful as the bar is lively. A Club Deluxe suite, its large windows offer an ever-changing vista of the city and the Marina Bay. Decor is gentle: light pine and muted pastels, eminently suitable for a hotel that is both a high-powered business centre and a resort, which is a great strength in a hotel.

1960s cool at the Republic bar

Anything else?

The hotel is a stroll to both Marina Bay Sands – one of Asia’s most extensive luxury malls – and the hawker food markets in the other direction.

Find out more: ritzcarlton.com

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 2 min

Our hotel of the month is a resort on a tropical island, surrounded by lush rainforest. It’s also in Singapore, one of the most densely populated places in Asia. Read on to see how The Capella on Sentosa has created a tropical island hideaway, less than 15 minutes from Singapore’s downtown financial district

The arrival

It’s slightly surreal. We got in our car, having finished meetings in Singapore’s hyper-urban financial district, near the landmark Marina Bay tower. Barely 12 minutes later, raising our heads from our phones, we were heading up a winding driveway lined with lush green foliage and surrounded by a tropical forest.

a pool surrounded by green plants in a rainforest

One of the Capella’s three outdoor pools. Photograph by Darius Sanai

We were greeted by a striking, long, whitewashed colonial era building – built for British army officers in the 19th century. Whisked through reception, we were in a garden leading to another long building, modern and curvy – Sir Norman Foster‘s creation, more than 100 years later.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Through the arches in Foster’s building we saw glimpses of swimming pools, more foliage and the sea.

The Room

The juxtaposition of old and new British – colonial and Foster – was notable, but our room was something else. We were in a kind of Zen rainforest retreat, the vibe as tranquil as a Balinese yoga hideaway. Open plan yet cosy, it had a bedroom with bed facing the forest and sea through picture windows; the living room had a similar view, and there was a small sheltered (from the frequent tropical rains) balcony to one side.

a sitting area with blue and wooden chairs and sofas

The Colonial Manor sitting area

The bathroom ran the length of both rooms, with a bath overlooking the forests, and a striking sculpture made of a rainforest log as a feature. The art all over the hotel is memorable: the owners are among the most respected art collectors in the region.

Exploring

Landscaped grounds drop down from the back of the hotel into the sea. Mostly, they are occupied by rainforest trees and exotic birds, although there are also three showpiece swimming pools each built on a terrace at a different level. The lowest one, the lap pool, is almost completely surrounded by thick foliage.

A bath by a window with a view of the sea

Our bathroom overlooked the Singapore Straits

You can chill on the terrace (very attentive wait staff and Aesop Factor 50 suncream in glass bottles await) around any of them; above the top pool is the broad terrace of Fiamma, a new Italian restaurant. We recommend the seafood carpaccios, delicate and beautifully done. There is also an excellent list of Italian wines, including some expertly-chosen Franciacorta, the ideal sparkling wine for a hot climate and often much better than champagne, which can taste gooey in the heat.

Read more: Hôtel Plaza Athénée, Paris Review

Above Fiamma, on a broad terrace, is Cassia, a contemporary Chinese restaurant with light laquered interior designed by the peerless Andre Fu. It also has an expansive bar terrace where you can sip on a grower champagne and ponder the greenery.

a table at a restaurant with a lantern light over the table

Cassia restaurant serves contemporary Chinese food amid interior splendour designed by Andre Fu

We had a very reviving revitalising treatment at the Auriga spa, which has a delightful little private garden outside its relaxation room: we too several turns of the lawn, enjoying the solitude and greenery.

Drawbacks

Sentosa, the island the Capella is located on, is 15-20 minutes by car from the Marina Bay business district and a little further from the Orchard business and shopping district. So it’s away from the heart of the action, but that’s price worth paying for staying in such a sophisticated tropical island resort, we feel.

Rates: From £740 per night (approx. €840/$915)

Book your stay: capellahotels.com/en/capella-singapore

Darius Sanai

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women in white ad red sparkly outfits and a man wearing a white suit with another in a black jacket and white t shirt

K11, the multidisciplinary art, culture, retail, fashion and design organisation created by Hong Kong mover and shaker Adrian Cheng, is staging a show in the city celebrating 200 years of couture, together with the V&A.

It’s an auspicious occasion: Cheng has just been given the responsibility to reestablish the territory’s reputation as an international cultural hub, after three years of isolation caused by COVID. During that time, the cultural and touristic pendulum has swung towards Seoul, with the opening of Frieze Seoul, Singapore, which has seen much incoming financial and cultural capital, and Bangkok. It’s a big ask, but if there’s anyone who can do it, it is Cheng, scion of one of Hong Kong’s biggest dynasties and also a cultural statesman and innovator with a visionary understanding of east, west and the future.

Meanwhile, The Love Of Couture: Artisanship In Fashion Beyond Time curated in collaboration with the V&A and production designer, William Chang Suk Ping, aims to to bring together Western European traditions with eastern innovation, highlighting the extraordinary creativity, history and craftsmanship of couture.

The opening of the exhibition was celebrated at K11 Night with some of the most influential people in Asia, particularly from the fashion industry.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

a man in a white shirt lifting his glass at a dinner
two women with their arms arund their waist and one is wearing diamond ear muffs
people standing for a photo at a party
two men and a woman at a dinner

K11 collaborated with with the V&A, assembling a team of revered industry veterans and emerging fashion designers, who, within the exhibition, explore the evolution of fashion across time and space and celebrate the next generation of designers.

Read more: Adrian Cheng On Brands To Watch In 2023

Cheng says, “Fashion throughout history is reflective of how traditions, craftsmanship, creativity and societies continue to evolve. I am thrilled to present this exhibition in collaboration with the V&A and work with our brilliant designers who have all in their own individual way, reinvented and modernised history with their unique perspective and talent. This collaboration truly reflects my mission to create a deeper cultural exchange between east and west by providing a platform for next generation talent.”

The Love of Couture: Artisanship in Fashion Beyond Time Exhibition is on until Sunday 29th January at the K11 Art & Cultural Centre

Find out more: www.k11experience.com/love-of-couture

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Reading time: 5 min
An artwork of a man wearing a stethoscope
A man wearing a suit sitting in front of a green piece of art

Alan Lo

The restaurateur, collector and leading figure in the Hong Kong art scene on who’s hot, what’s not, and why Singapore may soon be the next Asian art hotspot

LUX: You have been involved in the art world in Hong Kong for around 15 years. How has the scene changed there during this period?
Alan Lo: Hong Kong has become one of the most important art hubs in the world, on a par with London and New York. With Art Basel and M+, as well as local non-profits such as Asia Art Archive, Para Site and Design Trust, it is truly one of the best places to see art and buy art.

LUX: Are Hong Kong and China producing as many interesting new artists as 10 years ago?
AL: Things are a little complicated lately with social unrest followed by Covid, but I still see amazing new talent emerging. Hong Kong artist Ng Wing Lam is one of my latest acquisitions.

An artwork of a man wearing a stethoscope

Untitled, 2020, by Arjan Martins, from the collection of Yenn and Alan Lo

LUX: Is there a move away from the “Western eye” in recognising artists from the region, or to be successful does an artist still need to be rated by collectors in the US and Europe?
AL: Contemporary art should be borderless. Think of artists Chris Huen Sin-kan and Wu Tsang, who show and are collected globally. As much as China and Asian collectors are on the rise, in the near term the US and Europe are still very influential, so it is important for artists to participate in projects with Western institutions.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Which living artists internationally will be as remembered and sought after in 50 years time as the early 21st-century greats?
AL: Danh Vo, Mickalene Thomas, Shinro Ohtake, Rirkrit Tiravanija.

LUX: Hong Kong is highly digitised. How is digital art interacting with conventional art?
AL: Digital art is very now and Hong Kong is very much at the forefront. From digital art fairs to the level of interest in NFT art among collectors, new and established, these are signs of the significance of this new medium.

Skyscrapers in Singapore

Singapore’s bay area by night

LUX: The art-market peak has been called many times over the past 10 years. Will it peak?
AL: Who knows!

LUX: Is there a new generation of collectors making the art market and new artists in their own way, and is that interesting for you?
AL: For sure. Especially in China, we see the emergence of the very young who are buying very well and very quickly. It is definitely a new phenomenon that is here to stay, I think.

LUX: Is the influence of Singapore in the art world likely to increase? Why has it not done so today?
AL: The collector base is quite small today, but with the influx of capital and talent into Singapore, the city state is already seeing change in the scene, and Art SG debuting in January 2023 will be a catalyst.

A painting of two people driving in a car and one is standing up naked

Bakk, 2022, by Cheikh Ndiaye, from the collection of Yenn and Alan Lo

LUX: Will what you do help stimulate a ground-up art movement in Singapore?
AL: I’m just an insignificant collector, but I do hope to see more artist- and curator-led spaces to make scene more interesting.

Read more: Adrian Cheng On Brands To Watch In 2023

LUX: In 10 years time, will collectors and enthusiasts visit Singapore for its art scene?
AL: There is the potential. Its ecosystem already has Singapore Art Museum (SAM), Singapore Tyler Print Institute (STPI) and National Gallery Singapore. I’d like to see more collector-driven and foundation spaces, as well as non-profits.

LUX: Name your five most interesting artists in the world right now.
AL: Oh de Laval, Wahab Saheed, Soimadou Ibrahim, Wu Tsang, Sarah Cunningham.

Find out more: @alanyeungkit

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX

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hotel lounge area
hotel lounge area

The reception area at The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore

In the first of our four part luxury travel views column, our editor-in-chief Darius Sanai recalls the breathtaking views and chic ambience of The Fullerton Bay hotel in Singapore

A first-time visitor to Singapore before would be forgiven for being rather surprised arriving at the rooftop swimming pool at The Fullerton Bay hotel. The city state has a reputation for being efficient but unexciting – a business city for the wealthy, not a tourist destination.

Walk out of the lift on the top floor of the hotel, and you realise that reputation is outdated. In front of you is a huge outdoor pool with sunloungers both beside it and along both sides, inside it – meaning you can have both a wet bar and a wet sunbathe. Or moonbathe, in my case, as I had just arrived on a long-haul flight in the evening. Beyond the pool was a bright and throbbing outdoor bar area, the front row of which looks directly across the water of Marina Bay at the celebrated skyline of the Sands landmark on the other side, beyond which is the ocean and, in the distance, the islands of Indonesia.

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It may seem ‘normal’ if you are a resident of Singapore but coming from the western hemisphere this tropical city skyline-bar-swimming pool combination is literally breathtaking. A quick swim, then down to my room to get changed ahead of a couple of drinks in the bar, refreshing the palate before a long day of meetings the next day.

hotel roof bar

The rooftop Lantern bar at The Fullerton Bay Hotel, Singapore

While I was swimming, my room had been transformed. Normally, the ground floor is no place for a suite in a luxury hotel, but at The Fullerton Bay, the ground floor is located directly on the water. No road, no path, nothing in the way – the screens in my room had been folded back by the turndown service so I had a 180-degree view of the harbour, and when I stepped out onto the balcony and into my own personal swimming pool, I could also have taken a couple of steps more and jumped into the sea.

Read more: Activist José Soares dos Santos on environmental responsibility

If I’d been on my own, I would’ve stayed right there on the balcony, ordered some champagne, and chilled in the equatorial moonlight.

Up on the roof, by 10pm, the bar was turning more into a nightclub, with people dancing in an area cleared of tables. I sat at a table on the corner of the bar terrace, a 360-degree view of Singapore city centre all around. A pretty exhilarating introduction into the city.

living room

The living room of its Robinson Suite

In a time when eating outside is advisable as well as enjoyable, The Fullerton Bay has no shortage of options, as I discovered at my outdoor breakfast the next day. It is served à la carte, with tables well spaced, and a choice of Malaysian/Indonesian (nasi goreng), Chinese, and western, it would have been perfect on a luxurious break. On a business trip, though, I recommend you don’t make the same mistake as I did and go down in a crisp white Margiela business shirt to wear at your meetings – 8am, Singapore weather is hot enough to turn you into a sweat ball, meaning a rapid return to the room to change.

rooftop jacuzzi

The hotel’s rooftop jacuzzi

Fullerton is a legendary name in the Asian luxury industry, owned by the redoubtable and charming Ng family (who are also active in Hong Kong) and the more famous hotel and original of the same name is located 100m along the waterfront. The Fullerton, a local institution, is the colonial-era palace but is not priced at the same high-level as its more exclusive sister hotel. It is where you have to go for spa treatments, and I arranged one for just before my flight home. It was a mixture of Chinese pressure-point massage, ginger, rosemary and lavender oil, and stretching and soothing that was the perfect end to the Singapore stay-over. Over the years, I have changed my pre-long-haul flight routine flying back from Asia from champagne and sushi to a swim and a spa treatment, which is definitely more effective if you want to feel fresh on landing the next day.

Find out more: fullertonhotels.com

This article originally appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2020/2021 Issue. 

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Panel discussion held by YPO with speakers sitting on stage
Panel discussion held by YPO with speakers sitting on stage

One of the panel discussions at the YPO Edge global leadership conference in Singapore in 2018, an annual event that brings together nearly 3,000 business leaders

The YPO may just be the most influential organisation in the world that most people haven’t heard of. An association of major business owners and chief executives spanning Asia, the US, Europe, Africa, South America, Australasia and the former Soviet Union, it is part high-end networking forum, part extended family. It is notoriously difficult to join, and those who are in say its discussion groups, events and networks have transformed their business and, sometimes, their personal lives. LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai hears some insights from YPO members in Asia

Portrait of Joelle Goudsmit, CEO of Dimension-all Group, Philippines

Joelle Goudsmit

Joelle Goudsmit, CEO of Dimension-all Group, Philippines

YPO member since June 2012

LUX: How did you first come across the YPO in the context of your business?
Joelle Goudsmit: I took over the family company when I was 24, because my mother passed away quite suddenly. I had a liberal arts degree that I enjoyed but it did not really prepare me for working in construction and scaffolding, the family business in the Philippines. A degree in economics and Japanese literature does not prepare you for negotiating with contractors.

I was talking to someone in Hong Kong, who asked whether I’ve ever heard of this group called YPO and said that I really should join. I was a bit suspicious, as she was a random
person in my yoga class, so I answered that I was a bit overwhelmed just then and that I didn’t have room for anything else. Then YPO came up in a business context with several other people across Asia. So, I joined when I was 30, when there was critical mass with lots of people who were around my age, and it was wonderful.

Follow LUX on Instagram: the.official.lux.magazine

Leading a company is really quite lonely. You don’t necessarily have peers at work, you have colleagues who work for you. That’s a very different dynamic. When you work in a family business, there can be complications because the work tends to come home and your family then becomes stakeholders first, not necessarily family.

Your YPO forum does not have a vested interest in your business, they just listen, they are peers, and tend to be willing to share. Looking across the organisation, the common denominator is that the people come in with a willingness and a desire to constantly learn throughout their lives. I personally think that it doesn’t matter how challenging work gets, there is a point at which one gets a little stupid doing the same thing over and over. It’s much better t go to a YPO event to unplug, get inspired, and get new energy in order to bring that drive and inspiration back to work, and to maybe look at problems in a different way.

LUX: When you joined, did being a member help your business in specific ways?
Joelle Goudsmit: Yes, I have a number of examples of where I received unbelievable business support. When I purchased my first company, I was trying to find out about the business as quickly as possible. I decided I’d be doing business development straight away, not to be the CEO, just to go out, meet with potential clients and see whether the business was truly viable.

YPO has chapters and networks. The networks deal with your current interests , whether they be business or personal/social. I joined the deal network, I was quite active with them, and they organised these sessions around the world where you went in and met with a group. You were open about what your company needed at this point and whoever was in the room would volunteer leads for you or they could suggest someone they know or a chapter mate or someone in your realm. I remember I was in Dubai at that point and was looking for potential strategic partners. I put my need out to the table and really wasn’t expecting anything. Someone at the table goes, “come speak to me at work tomorrow”. They became my first client I acquired on my own for the company, and it was a wonderful “Phew! This company is viable” moment. It gave me a lot of confidence and hope for that company. That came out of YPO and has repeated a lot of times ever since.

I recently had breakfast yesterday with someone I met through YPO. Previously, he had a work colleague he had sent to the Philippines who needed emergency medical care. He didn’t know what to do, so he had sent a message out to the network. We responded and we were able to make a phone call to someone who owned a hospital close to where the man was, and was able to get him the right care.

So, at breakfast recently, he mentioned he was going to Kazakhstan, and I mentioned I’d like to explore potential business opportunities in Kazakhstan. So, he is phoning people to make introductions. You never know where these will lead, but it saves you having to go into a country that is very foreign, where you don’t know anyone. It’s a huge deal.

Audience at a YPO conference

Delegates at the YPO Edge conference in Singapore, 2018

Portrait of Asian businesswoman Jennifer Liu

Jennifer Liu

Jennifer Liu, Hong Kong-based owner of The Coffee Academics and founder of HABITŪ, Asia

YPO member since May 2017

LUX: Why did you join the YPO?
Jennifer Liu: When your entrepreneurial businesses reach a certain international scale, the YPO makes great sense, in terms of forming an alliance with other business friends and understanding the business environment.

I have not been a member for long, and I am getting active; for example, there is a very interesting event where YPO members in Hong Kong and the region visit the Greater Bay Area of China [the region connecting Hong Kong with mainland cities such as Shenzhen and Guangzhou]. YPO has a very selective process for its members. The calibre and the sophisticated mindsets of the people set it apart. I believe there are fewer than 100 members in Hong Kong. I went through three interviews.

LUX: What kind of questions were you asked?
Jennifer Liu: They want to know if you really are the person who makes all the important decisions in your company. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a top manager. And whether or not you can impact your company and the city or the world, one way or another both in the business world or the charities space.

Read more: Tips for a successful application to one of London’s most exclusive members’ clubs

LUX: You have been a member for less than two years ; how has it been?
Jennifer Liu: I love it. There are the very senior members who have seen it, done it, and they have all the words of wisdom. They have so much to share and for us, coming into this point in time where you’re no longer a young business person and you’re quite big, but you still have a lot to work on and to learn about, YPO has that resource of some of the best talents in town and also in the region or in the world, to openly and safely provide suggestions or networks. So, I think, in a way, when we come out and we say we are YPOers, it immediately means a certain standard, in terms of trust, respect and confidentiality. And in YPO, there is no specific hierarchy. Everyone is equal, and we all share . When it comes to confidentiality, it very clear what is level one, what is level two, and you feel very comfortable to share things you can’t even share with your family or your spouse or your co-workers.

LUX: In what way is it useful for your business?
Jennifer Liu: It’s very useful for me as person to have a safe environment to open up and to know people and to know what’s going on in Hong Kong or elsewhere in the world. It has a well-built system where we are not soliciting business between each other, but it’s a platform where we share useful and trusted information, both for business and personal matters.

Portrait of Matthew Boylan CEO of matador singapore

Mathew Boylan

Matthew Boylan, President and CEO of Matador Systems, Singapore

YPO member since October 2010

LUX: How has YPO helped your business?
Matthew Boylan: YPO has done two incredible things . Number one, it is an amazing security blanket because for a company like mine the only way that we can survive is to be able to support clients in more than one location. Our clients need to work with one supplier for their entire IT support strategy whether that is in Singapore, Vietnam, Australia, Korea or Japan. That means we need to have operations in all of those countries, meaning we have to incorporate a legal entity in those countries, meaning we have to navigate the rules and regulations that apply to employing permanent staff in those countries.

Before I joined YPO, one of the experiences that we had when we wanted to set up an office and incorporate a legal entity in China, we started talking to corporate consultants in Singapore who provided that service. The frustrating thing was that we would receive a quote from one corporate consultant for US$30,000 to incorporate in Shanghai, we would receive another quote for US$300,000 for exactly the same service. You are going into a market that you don’t have much knowledge about or experience in, you have to put a certain amount of trust in third party suppliers, but it is very difficult if you have not been recommended to those third-party suppliers, you have to do your own diligence, your own research.

You completely bypass the entire process by being a YPO member. All you need to do is pick up the phone or send an email, in this case it was to a YPO member who is based in Shanghai, and ask, “Can you please provide me with a recommendation to a corporate consultant who you have done business with, who you can trust, who you know will be able to support our needs in Shanghai?”. You know straight away that you can trust whoever they recommend. No matter where you are doing business you know that through the YPO network you can receive trustworthy and credible recommendations to third parties you need to rely on.

Read more: Inside Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugee camps

Number two – and this is so important in today’s business world – YPO allows you to conduct business at hyper speed.

I have been able to leverage off Matador’s expertise and infrastructure and resources to incubate and accelerate a lot of other different businesses. So, if you are looking for a manufacturing partner in a certain market, you’re looking for a distribution partner in a certain market, again you can leverage off the YPO network to actually source those.

One of my new businesses for 2018 was releasing a new product into the Japan market, we needed to source a manufacturer either in China or Vietnam, and through the YPO network I was able to source potential manufacturing partners within 24 to 48 hours. The two business partners who I am working with are based in Tokyo, who are not in the YPO, they have been struggling with this for twelve months with no progress, and they just said, “Matt, how did you do this?” I said it was through YPO and they were fascinated. Basically, within a 48-hour period I was able to source a manufacturer in Vietnam and also a manufacturer in China and in both cases, they were recommendations from YPO members in those respected countries. So, you can really work at speed, which is critical.

A speaker standing on stage in front of a large audience

A speaker at the YPO Edge conference in Singapore, 2018

Portrait of Asian business woman Noni Purnamo

Noni Purnomo

Noni Purnamo, President Director of Blue Bird Group Holding, Indonesia

YPO member since November 2003

LUX: You were one of the first female YPO members in your region.
Noni Purnamo: Yes, I was first introduced to YPO about 15 years ago by a good friend who is a very successful businesswoman, Shinta Kamdani. When I joined there about only like three female members in Indonesia, including her and myself.

LUX: How has the YPO helped you?
Noni Purnamo: YPO has help me grow all sides of my life. I went through the ups and downs of various challenges. When I was in my mid thirties I was faced with this challenge of how do you balance being a mother and being a business person at the same time. It was the busiest time of my business life, when you have the most energy and so many things to do, you have so many things to handle and yet you have to handle young children because that’s normally what happens when you’re in your early thirties . So, during those times I was really relying on the YPO network, YPO experiences and YPO learnings. I have really relied on the forum [where up to ten members get together and talk confidentially], I have been in the same forum for the almost 15 years now, and they know more about me than I do myself! They have been through all the ups and downs of my life and the good thing about sharing this in a forum is because of the forum’s rules – it’s strictly confidential and there is no judgement, you can only share.

That structure really helped. At one point I faced what was almost a depression, and I went to the YPO Life, which is a five- day course for members in Mumbai, and doing it I learned a lot about myself. It saved me from that depression.

I then initiated the mother/daughter retreat in Indonesia. YPO is one of the organisations where you can get help in all aspects of your life. Some organisations are purely commercial, some organisation are purely networking, with this you can have a family, you can grow with it. That’s what I have gained from YPO.

Portrait of CEO ASIA BUCCELLATI business man Dimitri Goutenmacher

Dimitri Goutenmacher

Dimitri Gouten, CEO Asia, Buccellati

YPO member since 2012

LUX: Why did you join the YPO?
Dimitri Gouten: In my previous company [the luxury goods conglomerate Richemont], we were doing an entrepreneurship award with a similar organisation. Some members went on to join the YPO and they recommended it. For many reasons. The first reason being the networking; with the YPO you are not seven degrees of important people, you are one or two degrees because you can really access entrepreneurs, bankers, investors, in a very quick manner. And then once you join, you have a lot of expertise available to you, and there are events where there are presentations on different subjects, so it’s like a university . You can be talking about the US economy one afternoon, then the singularity another afternoon, and AI. There are many subjects that are discussed at a high level and that are very interesting for all the members.

There are also events related to family, also events with children, because the whole point is about learning something – so you can learn something with your children, or you can learn something with your spouse, there are different kinds of events that are organised to promote business, family and personal life. That’s the holistic approach that it offers.

Read more: Rosewood’s flagship hotel opens in Hong Kong

It’s a later stage the YPO forum comes, which is when you have this group of people that we gather every month to talk about personal, business and family subjects which are shared in an environment that’s 100% confidential, where you have trust with the different people. And the idea is really for everyone to really express themselves, share their emotions, share their values, and you know, tell you stories, memories that happened to them in a similar case to what’s happening to you or friends of theirs.

The idea is never to judge you, never to give you advice, but to just give you some relevant information that they see could help you make your own decisions. So, it’s not about “Oh you should do this, you should do that”, it’s really an open forum, where everybody can share and everybody can take the most out of what they want. It’s never about “Oh, I have this problem, what are the solutions?”, it’s “I have this problem, I’m going to do a small presentation to my forum mates, my forum brothers, and we will see and they all share”.

One of them can be in a family business, one of them can be an architect, one of them can be in the printing business, or finance.

LUX: It sounds like the forum is something that doesn’t really exist elsewhere?
Dimitri Gouten: Yes, and it’s true that you don’t really find it outside this forum because it’s ruled by confidentiality and trust, and the other aspect is the quality of the people, because the people who are also recruited join the YPO because of certain criteria that are fixed by the YPO itself.

LUX: And you found it useful in terms of business and personal support?
Dimitri Gouten: Very useful. As well as the forum, you also have all the rest of the YPO network, that you can also contact for certain things. For example, I can ask if there is anybody who has experience in importing jewellery into China? You will find somebody, and then you will have some sharing of information if the person wants . That’s the whole idea of the organisation, that you share with others and you benefit from that.

For example, a few years ago, we went to Taiwan with a member of my forum and we met other, different companies that belong to YPO and studied their business models . So, you mix that with excellent food on the trip, and it’s a very interesting experience. We also went to Japan at one time where we saw a company making electric cars. In Asia the YPO is very powerful, you can quickly touch some entrepreneurs, and most of the time we share because we know what YPO is and we are willing to share.

LUX: Is there a mechanism by which contact happens?
Dimitri Gouten: Yes, there is a website where you have access to all the members worldwide. It doesn’t accept solicitation, so it means a member can’t call me and say, “Do you want to buy this?” But they can send me a message and say “I’m in this type of business and I’m in Hong Kong next week, could we meet for a drink?” And you trust them, you know that they are in the same organisation and they also follow the same standards.

For more information visit: ypo.org

 

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Reading time: 16 min
exhibition of the month
Singapore Hermes exhibition

Mountain, 2017. Ink on mulberry Hanji paper

Hermes exhibition singapore

Close up of Mountain,-2017

Korean artist, Minjung Kim is the first of two artists this year to be invited to the Aloft art space at the Hermès boutique, Singapore. Exploring the gallery’s 2017 theme of reflection, Kim’s contemporary ink paintings depict vast, hazy mountainscapes that roll endlessly into the distance. The artworks are painted onto mulberry hanji paper (the traditional Korean medium) and created in line with Taoist tradition, which demands the artist seeks a state similar to meditation so that she is able to apply thin, detailed lines with a steady hand. Yet, Kim’s paintings, though delicate, are dreamy rather than precise, flowing and undulating almost like water. The fading mountains could just as easily be waves of a colourful sea disappearing into the horizon; look at them for long enough and you will almost begin to sway. It’s an intensely relaxing and hypnotic viewing experience. The artist’s state of mind at the point of creation runs through and from the ink, just as the ink bleeds into the paper.

‘Oneness’ runs until 30th July 2017 at Aloft, Hermès, Singapore

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In a few months, Fort Canning in the heart of Singapore will be transformed into the first Asian outpost of the Pinacothèque de Paris. But the heritage site has been a cultural hotspot before, discovers Koh Yuen Lin

Vantage Point - Sir Stamford Raffles saw a safe and strategic location in Fort Canning Hill

Vantage Point – Sir Stamford Raffles saw a safe and strategic location in Fort Canning Hill – Courtesy of the National  Museum of Singapore,National Heritage Board

It can hardly be called majestic, with an elevation of a meagre 60 metres. Yet it has been the favoured seat of power for sultans and governors alike. When prince of Palembang Sang Nila Utama sailed across the stormy seas in the 1300s, he chose the hill – with its freshwater spring and view of the river mouth – as a safe place to house his entourage as he built the new Kingdom of Singapura. And though Bukit Larangan – or the Forbidden Mountain – would be a deserted place covered in dense hardwood jungle and shrouded in myths about ghosts of sultans past, Sir Stamford Raffles arriving in 1819 saw in the hill what previous rulers had recognised: a safe haven, a strategic vantage point, and the nucleus of a city’s growth in more ways than one.

With 11 mature trees on its premises protected under National Park’s Heritage Tree Scheme, and a forest of flora and fauna, Fort Canning is home to a rich ecosystem. Yet few realise that what we see within this city-centre green lung is not just a product of nature, but also human nurturing.

Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris - The upcoming museum will be housed within the historic Fort Canning Centre

Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris – The upcoming museum will be housed within the historic Fort Canning Centre

Cleared extensively in the 1800s for development, the hill was given back its green coat when Raffles – a passionate botanist and also founder of the London Zoo – set out to create a modern botanic gardens on its ground. This would become a 19-hectare Botanic & Experimental Garden established in 1822. Mimicking styles of Europe’s most important botanic gardens, it was a medicinal plant gardens first, then a showcase for the exotic plants introduced during the age of exploration, and a nursery for potential cash crop – a place where the relationship between nature and culture was explored. Though all that remains of it today is a 2,300 sqm Spice Garden created in 1994 and planted with some of the plant species in the original garden, together with many plants featured prominently in local cuisine, it remains a reflection of Singapore’s blend of East and West cultures.

Another major tree-planting effort the hill witnessed was the development of the southwestern section of the hill, bounded by Clemenceau Avenue and River Valley Road, into King George V Jubilee Park. This would later be expanded and rechristened Central Park in the 1970s, and then enlarged once again and renamed Fort Canning Hill in 1981, officiated with the planting of a fruit tree by then prime minister Lee Kuan Yew – whose vision of Singapore as a garden city has shaped not just the country’s landscape, but also contributed to the economy in intrinsic ways.

Indeed, Fort Canning is more than just a green space. It is a historical site that has stood witness to the changing face of Singapore over the course of centuries. Yet it doesn’t stand still in history – it adapts along with it.

Archaeological finds from excavation sites on the hill continue to fascinate historians with artefacts from when the place was palace grounds for Malay royalty. From delicate Jing De Zhen ceramic dating back to the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368) to 14th century gold jewellery carved with intricate Hindu motifs, each is a clue to the island’s ancient past as a prosperous ancient kingdom.

Fort Canning Gate - Constructed in 1846, the Gothic Gates still stand today as the entrance

Fort Canning Gate – Constructed in 1846, the Gothic Gates still stand today as the entrance – Credit: Liisa Wihman

Historical landmarks oft overlooked by visitors whisper of a time when the site played the role of a strategic communications centre for the port city. On Raffles Terrace stands a replica of the original Time Ball: a device that was raised at exactly 1255hr and dropped at precisely 1300hr as a means for businesses, government offices and the larger community of the downtown area to set their clocks to a common time during the early colonial days. In front of the humble Raffles House, a flagstaff stands where a taller wood flagstaff was erected in the mid 1800s. Different ensigns raised communicated to the township the identity, location and status of the ships entering and leaving the harbour, and even the type of cargo being carried and the ship’s last port of call. This told the people when to post their mail and packages sailing for Australia, China, India and Europe, and also indicated to merchants when to head down to the docks for some early bird bargaining. For this reason, the hill was also known locally as Bukit Bendera (Flag Hill) in the latter part of the 19th century.

The many colonial structures – from the Fort Canning Gothic Gates designed in 1846 by superintendent engineer captain Charles Edward Faber, the three-storey neoclassical style building previously used as a military administration building in 1926 and now repurposed as Fort Canning Hotel, to the British Army Barracks that have been restored as Fort Canning Centre – further speak volumes of its past as a fort and military base during times of uncertainty. In the words of Melissa Diagana and Jyoti Angresh, authors of Fort Canning Hill: Exploring Singapore’s Heritage and Nature: “Fort Canning Hill has always played a central role in all aspects of Singapore’s heritage. Whether one is looking for Singapore’s tangible cultural elements (such as buildings, ruins, art works, or landscape) or its intangible elements (such as folklore, historical knowledge, fleeting biodiversity, or inspirations), one’s path inevitably leads to this hill.”

National Theatre@50 - The Singapore Biennale 2013 artwork sits at the foot of the hill, as an homage to the original site

National Theatre@50 – The Singapore Biennale 2013 artwork sits at the foot of the hill, as an homage to the original site

Today, Fort Canning Hill stands in the heart of the Museum Planning Area. Surrounded by the National Museum Of Singapore, Singapore Philatelic Museum and The Peranakan Museum, it is a city-centre location with a heart – and art – beat of its own.

Its grounds play host to a full calendar of cultural events ranging from WOMAD, which has been bringing world music, arts and dance to Singapore since 1998, perennial favourites such as Shakespeare in the Park and Ballet Under the Stars staged by the Singapore Dance Theatre since the early 1990s as a means of reaching out to families, to the multitude of musical performances ranging from punk to pop.

What most do not realise is that the hill was a venue for the arts as early as the 19th century.

When hotelier, entrepreneur, photographer, treasure hunter, and larger-than-life man about town Gaston Dutronquoy took over George Coleman’s two-storey residence sited at the foot of the hill, he also set up a private dinner theatre of sorts. The dining room was transformed into what was quite ostentatiously named Theatre Royal, and it was the stage for the settlement’s amateur actors, including some very high profile members of society such as Singapore’s first lawyer William Napier, prominent merchant Charles Spottiswoode and businessman and magistrate William Read who was, in certain circles, known for his cross-dressing roles.

In 1845, Theatre Royal, this time complete with an orchestra pit, found a new home in the Assembly Rooms built at the foot of the hill where the Old Hill Street Police Station now stands. The building however fell into a dilapidated state within a decade. Post-demolition after 1856, a temporary theatre was erected at the same spot, where fundraising performances for what would later become the Victoria Theatre continued until 1861.

In more recent history, the hill was home to the Drama Centre on Canning Rise, inaugurated as the Cultural Centre in 1955. It was in this 326-seat theatre that many landmark local stage productions – such as Lao Jiu and Army Daze – made its debut until its demolition in 2002 to make way for the rear extension of the National Museum of Singapore. Then there was the iconic National Theatre with its fivepointed façade, 150-tonne cantilevered steel roof stretching up the slopes of the hill, and no side or rear walls. For the 23 years that it stood, the multi-million structure – opened on 8 August 1963 to commemorate Singapore’s self-government – with its 3420-seat hall complete with a revolving stage, was the venue for international performances ranging from the Bolshoi Ballet to the Bee Gees.

Its lush environment a source of artistic inspiration, Fort Canning Hill has also become a natural venue of choice for exhibiting tangible art. At the inaugural 1981 ASEAN Sculptural Symposium, six art installations were donated by member countries and are now displayed throughout the hill’s green spaces. Today, the park remains a creative space spruced with public art installations, such as site-specific works by The Sculpture Society of Singapore.

And just as its role has changed through the centuries with the country, the evolution of Fort Canning Hill as a venue for the arts continues. In 2015 it will welcome a new crowning jewel in the form of the Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris housed within the Fort Canning Centre – the first sign of its metamorphosis into an arts venue of international standards as the Singaporean art scene matures.

So even though it is indeed as Raffles once wrote of Fort Canning Hill, that “nothing can be more interesting and beautiful than the view from this spot,” those who look close enough, and allow the hill to whisper its story, will discover that true wonderment lies right here within this green sanctuary, on the grounds of the living hill itself.

pinacotheque.com.sg

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Reading time: 8 min
Marc Chagall, Dos à dos, 1984

Marc Chagall, Dos à dos, 1984

Marc Chagall’s star still shines bright today: the Russian-French Modernist is coveted by collectors and connoisseurs alike. Our columnist explains why JEAN-DAVID MALAT

opera1Personally, Marc Chagall is by far my favourite Modern artist. His paintings are somewhat like dreams and they remind me of my childhood: indeed, my grandfather was Polish and my grandmother’s family originally from Russia. Growing up, I listened to their stories and traditional tales and, in my mind, these resembled the colourful and oneiric scenes depicted by Chagall.

I think that up to today, he has influenced a lot of Israeli and Russian contemporary artist. He stayed true to his own style all his life. And even Picasso – who is known for being very critical of fellow artists – was a lover of Chagall’s works. I believe it is all down to the combination of colours, and the love and family values he put into his paintings. These are unique.

And the market seems to have picked up on this too. The presence of artworks by the late Master Painter in every major Modern Art auction around the world since the mid-2000s illustrates the recognition that his art has gained on the art market and with art collectors alike. An example of how this artist’s value on the art market has been reinforced since 2005 can be observed in the results of “La Femme du Peintre” (1970). In 1996, this 100 x 65 cm oil on canvas was auctioned at Sotheby’s New York for USD 650,000 (within the estimated USD 600,000 – 800,000). In 2012, the exact same painting was auctioned again at Sotheby’s New York. It was then sold for a hammer price of USD 1,800,000. That’s almost three times more than in 1996, the kind of trend more usually seen by living artists these days. This tendency is due to the fact that the demand for quality paintings by the Master Chagall keeps getting higher, while fewer and fewer pieces are available on the market.

Marc Chagall,Le coq sur fond Noir, 1968

Marc Chagall,Le coq sur fond Noir, 1968

To this day, the record price for a Chagall artwork to sell at an auction was at the August 2013 Christie’s New York sale, when “Les trois acrobates” (1926) sold for USD 11,500,000; well above the estimate between USD 6,000,000 – 9,000,000.

Considering all of the above, it is no surprise that the art market statistics website artprice.com has evaluated that USD 100 invested in 1999 in a Marc Chagall work will have an average value of 178 USD in September 2013.

But beyond that, the world’s most respected art institutions are constantly paying tribute to his great heritage: In 2013, two major UK institutions hosted Chagall exhibitions – Tate Liverpool and Manchester Jewish Museum – that looked into the Jewish heritage and modernist influences that shaped his career; while the Grand Palais in Paris hosted an exhibition of self-portraits at the Musée National Marc Chagall in Nice.

As for 2014, the first major retrospective in Spain devoted to Chagall will take place at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, curated by President of the Comité Chagall, Jean-Louis Prat.

At Opera Gallery, we have been sourcing artworks by Chagall for our collectors since around 2003-2004. And thanks to our international network, we have access to numerous Chagalls, via international collectors.

Marc Chagall,Maries au village,1969

Marc Chagall,Maries au village,1969

In 2006, we hosted our first Chagall solo exhibition in London, which was extremely well-received by our public and collectors. Later, in 2011, we had a Chagall exhibition in Opera Gallery Monaco, then in Geneva. And in May 2013, we decided to bring our collection to Asia and hosted a large retrospective exhibition in Opera Gallery Hong Kong.

It is with great pride that we will also be hosting a retrospective in London, opening on the 15 May 2014 and with which we aim to highlight the prominent role the Russian painter played within the history of art; and also to reinforce even further his value and recognition on the current art market.

Jean-David Malat is Director of the international Opera Gallery group. The Opera Gallery’s Chagall retrospective shows in London in May 2014 and in Singapore in autumn 2014.

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Thomas Wong - ‘Shi Fu” has been in the tailoring business for 56 years

Thomas Wong – ‘Shi Fu” has been in the tailoring business for 56 years

Master tailors are not confined to the town houses of Savile Row or the ateliers of Italy; with the boom in Asian prosperity has come a boom in Asian style. Erica Wong speaks to a Singapore-based tailoring maestro about his unique style

Shi Fu, or master, as Thomas Wong is commonly referred to, asks if I’d like a cup of tea as I take a seat next to him at a quaint coffee shop along Orchard Road. His tone is calm and certain, almost Mr. Miyagi-like. Chairman of the Master Tailor Association Singapore for the last two terms, lecturer at the LASALLE College of the Arts, and owner of one of the oldest tailor shops on the island, Wong has been making suits for the regions’ elite for well over four decades. The industry has changed much but the fundamentals remain the same, as Wong explains…

EW You’ve seen the industry through thick and thin…

TW I started in this line of work when I was 16. I was an apprentice and at that time shops in Singapore were in shophouses. Each shop housed their entire ‘production line’ from start to finish. Tailors trained their teams to do everything from scratch in their own character using their unique methods. As a result every shop has their own style, their own ideas about how to make a suit. The team would discuss the orders or any problems that arose, work out solutions together, which would reflect the philosophies of the brand. If a customer finds that ‘chemistry’ with Tailor A or B or C, they would consistently return to them. There was no competition between A, B or C because they each had their unique cut, style, quality and fit which was very different from one another. Without intentionally doing so, each tailor was a ‘brand’.

Today, the shophouse ‘all under one roof’ concept is gone. Tailors outsource the different parts of the job to independent workers who at times sub-outsource out, since there are only a handful of craftsmen who know how to do each job. Most of these independent workers accept jobs from a number of tailors so you can imagine how the original set up of the tailor ‘brand’ has been lost, the traditional collaborative production lines severed and the uniqueness of each brand has been diluted. The tailor’s role has become that of a coordinator who charges a middle-man fee. In my mind, that’s not a tailor. To be a bespoke tailor, you need to make a particular garment per a customer’s particular request. Instead, tailors are now middle-men who take the request and pass the garment around to various parties who make it in whichever way they know best. This isn’t a very responsible way of offering the bespoke tailoring service.

EW What is at the core of your design ethos?

TW I’ve always been interested in illustration and so naturally in [Chinese] calligraphy. I believe that when people are interested in the visual arts they have sensitivities towards the minute details. Whether that dark green is the right tone or the stripe is slightly too wide, the demand for perfection is innate. When it comes to designing or making patterns or cutting fabric, I apply that same temperament and attitude. Throughout every step of the process I keep thinking about how the suit will fit on the client. Should this cut, length or even shadow appear on his frame? Will the suit look forced or natural on him? Wearing clothes need to be a comfortable affair. If the suit isn’t comfortable or doesn’t make its owner feel better about himself, he winds up as a hangar for the clothes. Then he might as well not wear it at all. The person cannot be a mannequin for the suit, the suit must highlight the man’s strongest features. Of course as a bespoke tailor I need to adhere to the client’s requests so I also need to fit my design into the parameters of his request. This is the challenge.

For example if a larger man wants a double-breasted suit even though most tailors might think it a bad idea, I try to figure out how to not only defy the theories against it but to make him look slim in the cutting of his choice. How should I do the cutting? What kind of fabric should I recommend? What fabric patterns will be the better option? The quality of the fabric also makes a difference. So, in-depth knowledge about all these factors is imperative for a bespoke tailor. Even before you take the job, you need to offer your professional opinions. If you don’t have the fundamental basis and you deliver exactly what the client asks for, then you’ve escaped your responsibilities.

Every aspect — the cut, darts, seams, fabric and accents — plays an important role in the final product

Every aspect — the cut, darts, seams, fabric and accents — plays an important role in the final product

EW With 40 years of accumulated knowledge, what are the main lessons that you relay to your students?

TW Firstly, never take short cuts. Not in any step of the process.

Equally important is to work with integrity. Other players in the field have asked why suppliers provide me with top quality work and lesser quality to them. The answer is very simple. An analogy I often give is a woman who sees her friend’s perfect glowing skin after leaving the spa and requests to achieve the same results. But if she’s not willing to pay for the same top quality skin care products or use the same top aesthetician, how can she expect the same results? It’s just not possible. The same applies for my craftsmen. Everyone may share the same pool of talent but if I pay top prices for top quality and others aren’t willing to do the same, who do you think will be given priority? It’s a simple formula. I always tell my students that we can’t deliver anything sub-par because the dollar notes customers give us are not partial dollars. The $1,000 they give us is $1,000, no less. So if you charge $1,000 you can’t provide a $100 product.

EW There seems to be less and less people who fit into your traditional sense of a tailor. Where do you see the industry heading?

TW Last year, the Asia Tailor’s Congress was held in Singapore and it was Loro Piana who noted that Singapore’s tailors aren’t charging enough. Times have changed and yet we continue to charge low prices so our pricing strategy benefits the end customer, and we don’t pay our workers enough. That’s why less and less people are entering the field and those who are skilled have turned to other lines of work such as driving taxis, which is more lucrative.

What’s more, there’s an interesting phenomenon at play today. Technically the more affluent the country, the better their know-how ought to be and the more demanding the customer, and yet they try to take shortcuts. On the flip side, the poorer the country, the more traditionally trained craftsmen they have, and yet the market generally can’t afford the good fabrics and infrastructure to produce the suits. Over the long run, I hope to see a revival of the traditional crafts and skills, applied in modern contexts. That’s why I teach, in hope that my students will pick up some of the things I learnt many years ago, and apply them in their future careers.

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Reading time: 6 min
Former Exhibitions - ‘Van Gogh, Dreaming of Japan’ and ‘Jackson Pollock and Shamanism’ were about transversality

Former Exhibitions – ‘Van Gogh, Dreaming of Japan’ and ‘Jackson Pollock and Shamanism’ were about transversality

This autumn, Singapore hosts two notable events: a Formula One Grand Prix, and the Pinacothèque de Paris’ first ever pop-up museum in the region. Marc Restellini, the owner of the fabled museum, talks us through its collection and his philosophy

“A museum must not become a cemetery.” André Malraux’s remark underlines a fear, which unfortunately, has been well-founded for years, not only in France, but also all over the world.

Marc Restellini - The academic and Modigliani scholar owns and runs the Pinacothèque de Paris

Marc Restellini – The academic and Modigliani scholar owns and runs the Pinacothèque de Paris

His statement raises a fundamental question: what becomes of an artwork once it has left a collector’s walls to take its place in a museum? Whether they have donated, sold or loaned artworks, collectors are the wellsprings of museums. The Louvre, the MoMA, the Hermitage or the NAMOC for example, there is no museum in the world that has not come into being by virtue of private collections.

I have never ceased to wonder why an artwork loses its power as soon as it is exhibited in a museum. Being fortunate enough to have seen the works in the collectors’ homes and being stunned by their splendour, I cannot understand why, when I find them years later inside a museum, that they have lost that magic, that aura which I found in them previously.

Is this the fear that Malraux tried to express? He was, after all, an enlightened art lover who knew collectors so intimately, and who was for so long the head of the French museums as the country’s first Minister of Cultural Affairs from 1958 to 1969.

But what is a museum? In the past, collected objects were kept and exhibited privately. The great collectors such as Barnes, Morosov, or Chtoukine, just to mention some of the best-known, allowed public access to their collections once a week. Is the private museum not an extension of the Curiosities Cabinet? The Curiosities Cabinet first emerged during the Renaissance and was a place to house collections of a variety of objects. The term ‘Chamber of Wonders’ was used later for collections that primarily held works of art. Curiosities Cabinets finally disappeared in the 19th century when they were essentially replaced by museums.

Pinacothèque de Paris,  The art gallery is located at place de la Madeleine, in the 8th arrondissement of Paris

Pinacothèque de Paris, The art gallery is located at place de la Madeleine, in the 8th arrondissement of Paris

The idea today is to bring back everything the museum had lost of its essence and meaning. Indeed the name of the museum that will open in 2015 in Singapore is called La Pinacothèque de Paris. Etymologically, ‘pinacothèque’ means ‘box of paintings’, and connotes intimacy and secrecy. To provide visitors with a taste of what is to come when the Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris officially opens, a pop-up exhibition will open this year on 14 September. Entitled ‘The Art of Collecting, Masterpieces from the Pinacothèque de Paris’, the exhibition will span over five hundred years of art history through prestigious works of art by 20 world-famous artists including Botticelli, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Monet, Renoir, Modigliani, Picasso and Chu Teh Chun among others. The museum in Singapore will mirror that of France, a fine art museum known for its critically acclaimed exhibitions that celebrate transversality and the dialogue between different works of art.

‘Transversality’ is a term that goes some way towards explaining how a small, timeless, community of artists, from all periods, cultures and origins, are united by a similar way of thinking and behaving. By its encyclopaedic approach, every museum tends to make us forget its main role: to ensure that the works stay alive. They all speak of beauty, have identical references and the same historical narrative. But these works have to be placed together in order to set up a dialogue — beyond borders and periods — for they summon up what we all have in common.

Pablo Picasso Jacqueline, Undated

Pablo Picasso, Jacqueline, Undated

That is why, for the first time, I have chosen to show works together without classifying them by period or artist, or even by category like in other museums. By combining them according to my sensitivities and with an iconographic, and aesthetic logic, I have attempted to re-establish the original dialogue found within the art lover’s cabinet, that timeless place wherein the works can converse, dialogue and come to life again.

So forget everything you have been taught, or all you have not learned; let yourself go with the intermingling, the combinations, and try to find the keys you are offered in order to hear the works speaking to each other. You will enjoy, without any complexes, works that are usually impossible to see side by side. You will see Botticelli, Van Dyck or Renoir representing the worthies in the same way, be they Italian in the 16th century, Flemish in the 17th or French in the 19th century. You will also notice that Botticelli and Pierre de Cortone’s circle saw religion in an identical way; and that the landscapes by Picasso, Monet and Ruysdael were constructed in the same fashion.

Chaim Soutine The Bellboy, 1927-1928

Chaim Soutine, The Bellboy, 1927-1928

A singular experience in today’s world, a museum exhibition serves as a reminder that understanding can be framed in an attractive and playful manner, as long as one liberates one’s sensitivity. The artworks shall not be contemplated individually, but should be observed together, within their referential aspects. Future visitors of the Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris will be invited to enter the precious lair of a collector’s passion and experience a repository of wonderment and beauty.

Singapore, a country with numerous museums, shows a strong interest for culture(s) and a serious involvement in community outreach and education. That was therefore natural and logic to implement the Pinacothèque de Paris in Singapore. And as a matter of fact, the Pinacothèque de Paris will offer the first network of museums making the connection between Asian and Western art. We are excited to welcome you to our first show in the Red Dot.

About the Pinacothèque de Paris

Pinacothèque de Paris, the largest private art museum in Paris, will open its first venue outside of Europe in Singapore. Set to fully open by the first quarter of 2015, the Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris will be located at the Fort Canning Centre, within Fort Canning Park. Pinacothèque de Paris is well-known for presenting world-class exhibitions by master artists the likes of Rembrandt Harmensz, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Edvard Munch and Jackson Pollock among others. These masterpieces are borrowed from private collections not normally seen in a museum setting and the way they are presented is unique.

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Nautical Celebrations on Aqua Voyage

Sunseeker – The craft has a capacity of up to 14 cruising guests and comes with three en-suite cabins

Have your private, personal boat party — without having to fuss over the small things. ANDREA SEIFERT shows how

There is something about a sea voyage that lends itself to a celebration. Cruising the water on a luxury yacht is a true escape, and a welcome hiatus from the drudgery of everyday life on land.

So what better way to celebrate my husband’s impending 40th than with an intimate gathering of close family and friends on the water? The occasion needed to be marked with a show-stopping celebratory event, and a tailor-made journey on the sea with luxury yacht charterers Aqua Voyage seemed the perfect solution. With a myriad of options and destinations available, an overnight stay was eschewed in favour of a day trip on a sleek Sunseeker to Riau island in Indonesia. This would allow a full day of Saturday fun without cutting into busy schedules for an entire weekend.

Being a devoted epicurean, the adventure began with the most important aspect of the party – the menu. A consultation with the Aqua Voyage Executive Chef revealed that the culinary aspect of the event could be entirely tailored to personal preference; whether it be full onboard catering by a specific restaurant, or a bespoke menu prepared by Executive Chef Stacey Teo. As this was a day to spoil my better half, we devised a menu with a mixture of his favourite dishes from all around town and a few new surprises thrown in by Chef Stacey.

Wild Diver Scallops

Wild Diver Scallops with Orange Jam, Almonds

We set sail for Riau Island early in the morning, slightly bleary-eyed. Butlers were on hand to serve up decadent, buttery pain au chocolate and croissants from the Joel Robuchon bakery, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and espressos. Departing from Singapore, the scene was set with a pre-programmed iPod on the stereo system playing soft bossa nova tunes, and mimosas swiftly followed the coffees to get the party going.

The cerulean waters and white sands of Riau island beckoned, and a lazy morning of swimming in the sunshine soon came to an end as the boat docked a lazy dozen or so meters from the beach, just in time for a luxe picnic lunch. There’s nothing better than an assortment of zesty salads in the tropics, and we started with a salad of handpicked crab, avocado, citrus fruits and toasted sunflower seeds from the newly opened restaurant, The Black Swan. This was accompanied by Chef Stacey’s Wild Diver Scallops with Orange Jam, Almonds and Micro-Cress Salad with Egg Dressing. Creamy, indulgent burrata and vine ripened tomatoes followed alongside home-made duck rillete and crusty baguette. The grand finale was my very own famously gooey brownies.

Nothing defines a tropical getaway like a pampering spa treatment. This was a day for sybarite excesses and pleasure, so two therapists from our favourite spa in town were recruited to come onboard and pamper us with aromatherapy oil massages and foot reflexology to ease any work week tensions. A few guests then retreated to the luxurious mastersuite complete with fine Egyptian cotton linen and fluffy duvets for a heavenly post treatment snooze. Given my husband’s provenance, Afternoon Tea at Sea was a given and served in delicate bone china cups with a selection of refreshing herbal Gryphon iced and hot tea, scones with jam and clotted cream, and an assortment of Indonesian tidbits as a tribute to the location.

Dock at the Marina

Dock at the Marina – Ready to set sail for a day out on the seas

Expertly timed fireworks alongside the brilliant scarlet sunset brought the day to a dramatic and triumphant close. Our favourite mixologist from a premium cocktail bar in Singapore had been drafted as a surprise to prepare hubby’s signature drink and arrived onboard to act as our very own flair bartender, dazzling us of gravity defying bottle juggling and glass pouring set to music. The final culmination of the perfect day was a round of our Aqua Voyage cocktails to toast the birthday boy with, and a unanimous group decision, to celebrate many more birthdays on sea.

aquavoyage.com

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Reading time: 3 min
Applying fresh radical applications to indigenous craft traditions sit at the core of Head of State

Applying fresh radical applications to indigenous craft traditions sit at the core of Head of State

Quality and quantity might just be what Singapore needs to be in with the rest of the cool kids in the international fashion arena. Just what kind of quality and quantity are we looking for here? Lucinda Law ‘talk shop’ with some of Singapore’s fashion stalwarts and decide on how Singapore can have it all

A surreptitious makeover is taking place in the fashion industry in the last ten years. While Singapore has certainly touted itself as a shopper’s paradise, more savvy shoppers are turning their heels away from the rapid rise of homogenous shopping malls housing run-of-the-mill high street brands. A new generation of Singapore business owners, artists, designers and visionaries – shoppers – are filling the supply that they have demanded. A more diverse shopping experience made up of concept stores or shopping venues away from the malls, with an increasing range of local design-led fashion products with a focus on quality is upon us.

The hunt for quality amidst the massproduced goods readily found in Singapore gave rise to a number of bespoke services and artisan brands. With almost 25 years of experience in the fashion scene, Kevin Seah, Director of Kevin Seah Bespoke, says he is “targeting men with discerning taste who appreciates quality and well-made products.”

Carolyn Kan, Founder and Designer of Carrie K. Artisan Jewellery, is toeing the front line for quality in Singapore. The former Managing Director of M&C Saatchi started her jewellery line in July 2009 and in 2011, launched KEEPERS, an artisan showcase bringing together independent designers, artists and artisans, and lends these brands more visibility. Kan says, “I see a greater appreciation of artisan craftsmanship and bespoke design. I’ve also noticed a growing pool of people who value quality over quantity. So we started KEEPERS to give people an opportunity to learn more from the artisans and independent designers behind the work”. And they come from a range of fashion products, namely bespoke shoes, timepieces and hats.

A more robust fashion economy certainly calls for a more diverse range of fashion products, and as confidence in the industry grows, more cult brands emerge. One such designer is Chee Sau Fen, Founder & Designer, Heads of State Millinery. Chee is a self-taught designer who has worked for more than fifteen years in the visual arts and events industries before starting her own millinery label. It is quite curious to observe that the media release includes a footnote explaining that ‘millinery refers to the art of hat-making’. A consideration on Chee’s part, perhaps due to fact that a local brand dealing in millinery is largely unheard of. Her beautiful sculptural head pieces are made from traditional handloom abaca fabric of the Daraghuyan Community of the Bukidnon Tribe in Philippines and they are each hand-draped and sewn by Chee.

The three driving forces behind label Mystic Vintage were brought together by their passion for eyewear

The three driving forces behind label Mystic Vintage were brought together by their passion for eyewear

Highly-coverted, never-been-done before, hip and made from utmost quality, brands like Heads of State check all the boxes for the new emerging Singapore labels. Likewise, Mystic Vintage Eyewear, is just one of the brands that understands cool eyewear is part of the complete head-to-toe assemblage in fashion. Mystic Vintage was started in 2008 by Alvin Tan, Jason Tong and San Yin Mei, the three veterans in the design and creative industry were brought together by their passion for eyewear.

A bespectacled, Alvin Tan, who is also part of PHUNK, a famous Singapore art collective, says, “Mystic Vintage is very focused on design and the theme revolving around it. Each model is inspired by a different theme, for eg, Music, Aviation, Magic, etc, and its design relates to that. What’s unique about each design is that the frames have different quotes engraved on the arms of the eyewear, it could be lyrics from a song or a quote from a movie, something that might bring a sense of familiarity to the person wearing it.” Their obsession for details and quality has garnered them a sizeable following and helped raise the bar for cult labels in Singapore and their presence overseas.

Tan adds, “There’s a heightened interest in creating locally and also more awareness for supporting local labels. The market in Singapore is small so many brands might find themselves having to explore foreign markets. We think the fashion industry will grow regionally, creatively and gain international awareness.” Because Singapore is a little red dot, she is immensely conscious of the need to reach out to an international audience, but first, some local attention never hurts and is imperative for the makeover to take place. There has been a longstanding sentiment about the lack of support for local products, but all this is beginning to change.

Ling Wu’s python skin handbags and clutches are all ethically sourced.

Ling Wu’s python skin handbags and clutches are all ethically sourced.

Goh Ling Ling, founder and designer of LingWu bags, a lecturer in Fashion at Lasalle College of the Arts and a veteran of the Singapore fashion scene says, “In the last 10 years, I’ve seen such a dramatic increase of designers developing their own creations; not just fashion but visual artists and designers, jewellery, textile, etc. But for a long time designers in Singapore were having a pretty hard time getting acceptance from people here, and Singaporeans like to compare the local with the international, which can be unfair at times.”

So the time has finally come to do away with the naysayers. Instead, a more enthusiastic and ‘pret-ta-support’ attitude fans the industry.

Samuel Wong, Creative Director of evenodd, a young menswear label says, “Singaporeans now support and buy local designers and is proud of it. There is a significant growth for ‘made in Singapore’ fashion. The media attention and customers patronage have increased.” Wong’s edgy and youthful menswear label is a testament to the confidence among young start-up brands, with a good measure of business sense thrown in.

There is an unprecedented rise of independent fashion labels. Some freshly out of school, but those with prior experience in the creative industry are helming the fashion industry.

The message is loud and clear: We are doing it ourselves and we are doing it our own way.

Mash-Up, an independent street-wear label is just one of the brands that is echoing this zeitgeist. Daniel Monasterios Tan, Nathanael Ng and Shaf Amis’aabudin says, “we design for ourselves and because we are always changing it means our brand is always changing and growing. Everything about our brand is about promoting the D.I.Y. Spirit and mashing together different elements of the world around us with stories/cultures from the past to create a new visual language through fashion design.”

The D.I.Y and entrepreneurial spirit is palpable across the country. Tan says, “the very fact that a non-corporate and niche label like us exists in Singapore will hopefully inspire and encourage other brands/designers to make their own ideas come alive, no matter how whacky.”

Look around and you can begin to see that it is certainly taking place. “It feels like everybody in our generation is starting something of their own and it feels like the whole world is connected and supporting each other”, says Tan.

Singapore’s fashion is gaining traction. Fast. Tan says, “currently it’s an ‘act local, think global’ scene for fashion and small cult labels.” Goh also notes, “I think creative Singaporeans now feel they are competing on an international stage. You can see this across all creative industries – fashion, art, music and design. This is partly due to various government support initiatives, and partly because there are some really prominent Singaporeans out there – Andrew Gn, Ashley Isham, Ethan K, Phunk Studio, Tham Khai Meng. This helps build a sense of pride and responsibility in the industry and the next generation of creative thinkers.”

Carrie K’s aptly titled ‘A beautiful mess splat Necklace & Spill Cuff ’

Carrie K’s aptly titled ‘A beautiful mess splat Necklace & Spill Cuff ’

A new level of playing field has been created and Alvin Tan notes, “with more fashion and trade shows coming into the country in recent years, local fashion brands are exposed to a growing number of international press, media, buyers and consumers”. This influx of interest is working in favour for everyone, as quality gets better and the quantity of diverse fashion products increases.

You can witness this progression yearly at Blueprint. A four-day fashion trade and consumer event organised by the Blueprint Group, a joint venture between the Textile and Fashion Federation of Singapore, MP Singapore and Mercury Marketing and Communications to catapult emerging talents to international prominence. All in order to help these brands grow their export market.

Tracy Phillips, Project Director of Blueprint Tradeshow and Emporium, says, “as Asia’s fashion gateway, we want to feature the best of Asian fashion design talent, including a good mix of emerging talents to be discovered, as well as established brands looking to grow their distribution, all together under one roof ”. Besides Blueprint, there are also events namely, the Asia Fashion Summit conference, Audi Star Creation competition and Audi fashion week to engage the fashion community.

A rise of such events are great opportunities for labels to showcase their works and certainly help foster a bigger, better and stronger community.

Lasalle College of the Arts is also one to recognize this need as it launched the Asian Fashion Graduate Showcase 2013 (AF/GS) in May to showcase its fashion graduates’ work from across Asia. Nur Hidayah. A. Bakar, Dean, Faculty of Design at LASALLE College of the Arts, says, “the objective of AFGS is to develop a network linking fashion schools in Asia. I would like AFGS to be the official platform for these institutions to discuss and exchange ideas on what could be the next phase of the fashion industry in the region”.

So as Singapore continues to get creative in whether launching new malls, new fashion labels or showcases, the industry is making strides in creating a myriad of artisan-quality fashion products, meaningful showcases and hopefully exploring further developments of new market segments, thus moving the scene ahead, fashion forward each time.

Lucinda Law lectures, writes and creates art installations inspired by music, fashion, literature, arts, design, spirituality and travel.

 

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Reading time: 8 min
Stacey Teo

Stacey Teo

For the conscientious chef, sustainability is more than just a fashionable catch phrase, as our columnist explains, it is both a moral obligation and our best chance for the future. STACEY TEO

I am not a professional writer, I’m a chef, but I do know that when writing an article it is good to grab the readers attention right away. How’s this for an attention grabber? According to the World Wildlife Fund, over 73 million sharks are killed each year just to feed consumer’s demand for sharks fin soup. That’s not a typo. 73…million. It’s a shocking number and the saddest part is that in most cases the shark is pulled from the water, its fin is hacked off and the rest of the majestic animal is unceremoniously dumped back into the sea.

More numbers? According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, 85% of the world’s fisheries are either fully exploited, over exploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion. It’s no wonder. Singapore alone consumes an average of 100,000 tons of seafood each year and the global seafood market is expected to grow another 50 million tons by 2025. On land things aren’t much better. Millions of tons of food go to waste each year. It is estimated that in the US, 14% of food purchased at the grocery store is thrown away. This is an incredible waste of resources – not just to produce the food but also to ship, process and store it, all for nothing.

Something needs to be done and as chefs I believe that we are part of the problem but hopefully, we’re also part of the solution. For too long we have been abusing our resources and it is now time we start thinking about how we can stop destroying the raw materials we need to run our businesses. We have to set the example for our clients to follow. Yes, we face difficult questions and tough steps will need to be taken, but I am confident that if professionals and clients work together, we will not only sustain but actually begin to replenish.

This is the goal towards which we have already taken some important steps at our newly opened Montigo Resort, Nongsa. Before we opened our doors we began reaching out to area farmers to purchase as much locally produced food as possible. On the property itself we use organic fertiliser and we are planning to create our own gardens where we will grow vegetables, herbs and fruits to use in our restaurant.

We do not have items like cod and instead of industrially caught tuna we serve a locally caught variety. Salmon is occasionally served but we have replaced it on the menu with similar types of fish as often as possible.

Finally we do our very best to only buy what we will be using. Many restaurants over-buy which is not only environmentally wasteful but also bad for the bottom line. We ask our suppliers to deliver our products in minimal packaging without compromising on freshness and sanitation. Aubergine really does not need to be individually wrapped the way it is in the supermarket.

Sustainability can be achieved without compromising on flavour

Sustainability can be achieved without compromising on flavour

When planning the menus I thought long and hard about how to make each dish sustainable. To  be truly sustainable you need to do more than just strike an item like shark fin soup from the menu. Buying locally sounds great but the reality is that not everyone starts out on an equal playing field. In Batam the main agricultural product is cassava leaves. That doesn’t give you a lot of menu options. Limited local crop variety means chefs have to become much more creative to develop a menu that offers a bit of variety but there is only so much one can do. Relying on local, seasonal harvests also means certain products are not available during certain times in the year. In consequence dishes need to be changed more often leads to more menus printed which adds to the restaurant’s overall costs and increases the carbon footprint.

It’s also difficult for a chef to select the right local farmers. Not many use organic compost these days and it’s difficult to keep track of who is using what in their growing cycles. To be sure a chef has to keep a list of farmers who support sustainable initiatives but how many of us have time to check-up on these things.

One thing we can control is the education of our staff. At Montigo, having everyone on the same page and fully understanding the reasons behind our initiatives is key. We are hopeful that some may start coming up with their own ways to help the cause and that it will carry over to their home lives and they will help spread the message if they ever decide to change jobs. Our guests also need to be aware that the future depends in great part on what they order when they are out and what they cook at home. As industry professionals, we are just the tip of the ice berg. We need to lead by example but it is up to our clients to follow. Ultimately our goal is not only to sustain but regain.

Want to help? There are a number of things you can do. First take a stand against unsustainable fishing by pledging to buy MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certified seafood. It is still not readily available everywhere so if you can’t find seafood with the MSC label in your local store, please ask for them because businesses do listen to their customers. Next, inform yourself. You can find a lot of great information on the WWF website. There are sites for every area in the world. I love the Singapore site. It has useful information on what you can do to help preserve the area’s waters, from taking a Save the Sharks Pledge, to seeing what restaurants are shark-fin free and best of all, you can download an easy to carry guide to sustainable seafood shopping. I also like to check in at the Marine Stewardship Council’s website where apart from a lot of useful info on sustainable fishing there are some tasty recipes. Stacey Teo, Executive Chef at KOP Hospitality

wwf.org, msc.org 

 

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Berry pie at De Kas, Amsterdam

Berry pie at De Kas, Amsterdam

Michelin stars are so twentieth century. Karys Webber rounds up 21 establishments around the world where you can have a meal on the wild side, whatever your tastes

MOTO, Chicago

Michelin-starred Moto in Chicago is molecular gastronomy at its best. Chef with a hint of mad scientist Homaro Cantu creates the most inventive, surprising and bizarre dishes for a multi-sensory food experience using high tech equipment and intricate techniques. The menu and ingredients change regularly and dishes are given mysterious names like ‘River’ and ‘Paradise’ that give little away. But one thing is consistent, nothing is quite as it seems: expect hard to be soft, savoury to be sweet and inedible to be edible. In a bid to avoid the use of paper in the restaurant, even the menus at Moto are edible, printed onto rice paper using a modified Canon i560 inkjet printer in which the print cartridges are filled with food-based ‘inks’, including tomatoes and purple potatoes. The science theme also extends to the laboratory style decor, which features walls of the periodic table of elements and displays of glass flasks and beakers. motorestaurant.com  

Acrobats and fine dining, Circus, London

Acrobats and fine dining, Circus, London

CIRCUS, London

If you favour a side of acrobatics with your dinner then head to Circus in London’s Covent Garden, a late night cocktail bar and cabaret restaurant rolled into one. A surrealistinspired décor, dreamed up by designer Tom Dixon, is striking in black and white with gold Harlequin wallpaper and mirrors galore whilst a Pan-Asian menu offers up dishes such as Chilean sea bass, lychee and aubergine green curry and red pepper lamb chops with chilli and honey. Performances from acrobats, fire eaters, trapeze artists and burlesque dancers occur spontaneously during dinner but come into full force afterwards when the glossy white platform that dominates the main dining room transforms from communal dining table to stage and runway for the entertainment. circus-london.co.uk

DISASTER CAFÉ, Lloret de Mar

If you are someone who thinks going out for a meal is just too easy, perhaps you should make a visit to Disaster Café in Lloret de Mar, Spain where they make eating that much more of a challenge. The bizarre underground restaurant simulates an earthquake equivalent to 7.8 on the Richter scale during your dinner. Waiters don protective headgear and reflective vests and guests, unsurprisingly, are advised to wear machine washable clothing as inevitably things get messy. Even more bizarrely, the restaurant is a hit; tables are booked up weeks in advance by diners who clearly aren’t put off by the fact that the majority of the meal will end up on the floor. disastercafe.com

 

Situated in a restored greenhouse, De Kas grows its own fruits and vegetables

Situated in a restored greenhouse, De Kas grows its own fruits and vegetables

DE KAS, Amsterdam

De Kas is the project of Michelin-starred chef Gert Jan Hageman who in 2001, rescued Amsterdam’s Muncipal Nursery from demolition and turned it into one of the city’s coolest and most beautiful restaurants. Located in Frankendael Park, the 8-metre high greenhouse, which dates back to 1926, now operates as a unique restaurant-comenursery serving up fresh, seasonal and organic vegetables grown on the premises and locally sourced meat and fish. A fixed menu of simple, stylish dishes inspired by rural Mediterranean is created each morning based on the day’s harvest. Recent offerings have included smoked halibut with celeriac ravioli and lemon panna cotta with pomegranate seeds, melon and basil ice cream. The conservatory dining area is minimalist in design, courtesy of Dutch designer Piet Boon, letting the impressive glass structure take centre stage and a four-seat chef ‘s table is also available in the kitchen if you’re interested in seeing all the action. Alternatively, weather permitting, you can also dine outside in the picturesque herb garden. restaurantdekas.nl

Underwater dining at Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Maldives

Underwater dining at Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Maldives

ITHAA UNDERSEA RESTAURANT. Maldives

If you fancy dining with the fishes there’s no more magical an experience than Ithaa Undersea Restaurant on the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. Residing nearly five metres below the surface in the Indian Ocean, Ithaa – which means ‘mother of pearl’ in Dhivehi, the native Maldivian language – allows its diners to marvel at some of the richest marine life in the world whilst sipping champagne cocktails. Sharks, turtles and stingrays are all regularly spotted along with swarms of tropical reef fish and with a seafood heavy Maldivian-Western fusion menu, there’s a high chance you’ll be able to spot what’s on your plate swimming above your head. Intimate with only 14 seats, the 5 x 9 metre restaurant is encased by 12.5mm thick clear acrylic glass and cost $5 million to build. conradhotels.com

CANNABALISTIC SUSHI, Tokyo

Nyotaimori is the obscure Japanese practice of serving sushi on the body of a naked woman. Inspired by this, a restaurant in Tokyo has taken the concept to new levels with a macabre twist. Definitely not for the squeamish, at the Cannibalistic Sushi restaurant, guests are presented with an edible ‘human body’, wheeled out on a gurney by a waitress dressed as a nurse. The chefs at the restaurant ensure that the life size corpse is as realistic as possible, using dough to create the flesh, sushi and sashimi inside to replicate organs and blood red sauce embedded in the skin layer to create realistic bleeding when you make your incision. You can even choose between male and female bodies.

DINNER IN THE SKY, Worldwide

If you suffer from vertigo then this one may not be for you, however for spectacular views and your meal with a side of fear then Dinner in the Sky is a must do. The bespoke experience dangles 22 guests 100 feet in the air at a location of your choice with a chef, waiter and entertainer enclosed in the centre to tend to your needs, plus the swiveling chairs allow you to enjoy 180-degree views. Just make sure you take a bathroom trip beforehand, the whole table has to be brought down if anyone needs to go to the toilet during dinner. dinnerinthesky.co.uk

A zip-lining waiter enroute to the Soneva Kiri Treetop Dining Pod

A zip-lining waiter enroute to the Soneva Kiri Treetop Dining Pod

SONEVA KIRI TREETOP DINING POD, Koh Food, Thailand

Also taking dining to new heights is five star eco-resort, Soneva Kiri, on the Thai island Koh Kood. Soneva Kiri offers its guests a unique Treetop Dining experience using a rattan pod that seats up to four people. Boarded at ground level, the bird’s nest-esque pod is then hoisted up 16 feet into the native massang trees so guests can enjoy their meal at one with nature and with stunning views of the island and out to sea. The menu also follows a jungle theme serving up dishes such as ‘Canapés in the Canopy’ and ‘Forager’s Basket’ using produce predominantly from the island’s organic gardens. With such a secluded, uneasy to reach location you may be wondering how your food arrives. In fact, the waiters glide elegantly through the trees using zip wires to reach you. However, designer of the Treepod, Louis Thompson, has said, “we are also looking into guests being able to fly on the zip line through the jungle themselves, as there is a certain amount of envy when they watch the waiters.” soneva.com/soneva-kiri/home

OPAGUE, Los Angeles

Everyone enjoys a candlelit dinner so why not go one step further and ditch the light completely? You can do just that at Opaque in Los Angeles where they promise a ‘more stimulating dining experience’ based on the theory that removing your vision heightens your remaining senses, enhancing the smell, taste and texture of your food. Guests at Opaque enjoy their meal in a completely pitch black room aided by waiters who are all blind or visually impaired. darkdining.com.

The Wrapping Gallery combines a restaurant with a contemporary art gallery

The Wrapping Gallery combines a restaurant with a contemporary art gallery

THE WRAPPING PROJECT, London

The venture of Australian-born theatre director and curator Jules Wright, The Wapping Project in London brings together a restaurant and contemporary art gallery in a disused hydraulic power station. With utilitarian furniture, high ceilings, bare-brick walls and looming industrial machinery, it’s not the cosiest of settings to settle down for dinner, but it is impressive. The daily changing menu offers up treats like veal rump with winter tomato, wild fennel, herb, almond and ricotta, courtesy of newly appointed chef Matthew Young, plus an all-Australian wine list handpicked by Wright. A cavernous art space at the back plays host to a variety of installations and exhibitions each month. thewappingproject.com

EL DIABLO, TIMANFAYA NATIONAL PARK, Lanzarote

El Diablo restaurant crowns the top of Islote de Hilario, the tallest of Timanfaya National Park’s famous ‘Fire Mountain’ volcanoes in Lanzarote. What makes this circular, glass-walled restaurant unique though is not just the spectacular views and odd location choice, it’s the way they cook the food. The chefs use the semi-dormant volcano itself to grill your dinner to perfection via a cavernous black pit, which reaches to the ground to utilize the natural 400°C heat that emanates from below the ground’s surface. The restaurant itself was designed by the late artist and architect, César Manrique, who was responsible for much of Lanzarote’s development. lanzarote.com/timanfaya  LAINO SNOW VILLAGE ICE BAR, Ylläsjärvi, Finland The Laino Snow Village Ice Bar resides in the town of Ylläsjärvi in Finland, just north of the Arctic Circle, and as you may have guessed, is made entirely of ice and snow. Diners here can enjoy local specialties such as reindeer, Lappish potato soup and vodka-lingonberry jelly (served in ice glasses of course) and as the restaurant is kept at a cool -2 to -5 degrees Celsius at all times, fur rugs are considerately draped over the solid ice chairs to keep you warm. The restaurant only exists however during the winter season when the weather is cold enough to sustain it, for the rest of the year it disappears entirely and is rebuilt from scratch when winter next arrives. snowvillage.fi

FORTEZZA MEDICEA, Volterra

For a somewhat tense dining experience, try Fortezza Medicea restaurant in Volterra, near Pisa, which just happens to reside inside a maximum-security prison. An experiment in prison rehabilitation, all the waiters and chefs that work in the restaurant are convicts who inhabit the 500-year-old facility, based on the idea that the inmates will learn valuable skills to help them find work upon release. Unsurprisingly, security checks are thorough: would be diners are required to submit a two-month background check before their reservations are considered and upon arrival at the restaurant, guests have to pass a series of checkpoints and hand over mobile phones and handbags before settling down for their meal. Armed prison wardens are stationed around the restaurant and, just in case, all cutlery and plates are plastic. The menu consists of Southern Italian dishes like mini frittatas and gnocci with a fava bean puree, plus a pianist doing life for murder serenades diners during their meal.

Fully automated service at `S Baggers, Nuremberg

Fully automated service at `S Baggers, Nuremberg

‘S BAGGERS, Nurenberg

At ‘s Baggers restaurant in Nuremberg they’ve done away with the traditional table service in favour of a fully automated electronic system. Customers simply place their orders themselves using the touch screen computers at each table and when ready, your food will come whizzing towards you from the kitchen above on the spiraling metallic tracks that dominate the dining area. sbaggers.de

ANNALAKSHMI, Singapore

The motto at vegetarian restaurant Annalakshmi in Singapore is simply, ‘eat what you want, give what you feel’. That’s right, it’s up to you to decide how much you’d like to pay for your dinner. To entice your generosity however, the money you pay is donated to the Temple of Fine Arts, an artistic and cultural organization dedicated to serving the society through arts, music and dance, and all the staff at Annalakshmi are volunteers who hold regular day jobs and view their work at the restaurant as ‘service’. The unusual restaurant also has outlets in Kuala Lumpur and Perth. annalakshmi.com.sg

Sound of Silence, Australian barbecue in the Outback

Sound of Silence, Australian barbecue in the Outback

SOUNDS OF SILENCE, Ayers Rock

If a romantic, starlit dinner is more your thing then try the awardwinning Sounds of Silence experience which offers a memorable meal in the secluded Australian outback. Champagne and canapés kick start the evening at sunset on a lone sand dune overlooking Ayers Rock followed by a traditional Australian barbecue in a candlelit desert clearing, serving up classic Northern Territory dishes kangaroo, crocodile, emu and barramundi. After dinner, you can indulge in a spot of stargazing with the resident astronomer on hand to guide you through the night sky. In the chillier winter months a campfire is also lit to keep things toasty. ayersrockresort.com.au

HAJIME, Bangkok

At Japanese restaurant, Hajime, in Bangkok they’ve come up with a novel, if slightly terrifying, way to serve customers. All food here comes courtesy of enormous, bug-eyed robots, dressed in snazzy samurai outfits. What’s more, they also perform clunky dance routines to Asian pop music for your entertainment. Owner Lapassard Thanaphant invested nearly $1 million to create the boogying robot waiters. hajimerobot.com

THE SPAM MUSEUM, Austin, Minnesota

Brilliantly dubbed The Guggenham, The SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota is 16,500 square foot dedicated purely to the canned meat. Visitors to the museum can experience ‘the world’s most comprehensive collection of spiced pork artifacts’ with exhibitions ranging from a short film entitled ‘Spam…A Love Story’, vintage SPAM brand advertising, SPAM trivia and a World War II exhibit that includes a letter from former U.S. president, Dwight Eisenhower, thanking the company for keeping the troops well fed during the war. Of course, you can also swing by the museum store on your way out to stock up on priceless SPAM collectables. spam.com/spam-101/the-spam-museum

MESTIZO, Santiago

Mestizo restaurant in Santiago, Chile, doesn’t really look much like a restaurant. If it wasn’t for the arrangement of tables and chairs, catching sight of it you’d be much more likely to mistake it for an art gallery or a museum. Designed by architect Smiljan Radic Clarke, what makes the structure so unique is the use of large boulders to support the wooden roof that stretches over the kitchen at one end, the indoor section of the restaurant in the middle and an outdoor deck patio at the other end. Occupying a corner of Parque Bicentenario, the restaurant overlooks picturesque water gardens and serves an eclectic mix of Chilean and Peruvian cuisine. mestizorestaurant.cl

THE CURRYWURST MUSEUM, Berlin

As ‘the culinary emblem of Germany’s capital city’, naturally the currywurst should have a museum dedicated to its greatness in Berlin. Opened in 2009 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the dish, the museum claims that ‘no national dish inspires as many stories, preferences and celebrity connoisseurs as this one does’ and holds interactive exhibitions including a Spice Chamber which features a sausage sofa, sniffing stations and a ‘Currymat’ that will tell you what curry type you are. currywurstmuseum.de

ROADKILL COOK-OFF FESTIVAL, West Virginia, USA

Yes, you have read that right. Every September, the people of Marlinton, West Virginia hold the stomach-churning Roadkill Cook-Off Festival. Thankfully, the dishes are merely inspired by common roadkill in the area as opposed to participants actually using animals scraped off the country roads. The rules state that competitors’ main ingredient must be an animal that often meets it’s grisly end in a road accident, be it a possum, beaver, raccoon, deer, squirrel or even a rattlesnake. Previous dishes have included teriyakimarinated bear. Vegetarians need not apply. pccocwv.com/

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Reading time: 13 min

RECENT WINNER OF SINGAPORE’S URA ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE AWARDS, SPACE FURNITURE’S NEW HOME JOINS TWO HISTORIC BUILDINGS WITH A MODERN GLASS STRUCTURE TO FORM A 40,000 SQ FT MULTIPLEX THAT IS A TRIUMPH OF DESIGN. LEAD ARCHITECT Chan Ee Mun, SENIOR ASSOCIATE OF WOHA, WALKS US THROUGH THE PROJECT

We’d known about these buildings ever since they received Heritage status and I d admired them from the outside but had never been inside. The space was stifling, dark and closed. The previous owners had it very compartmentalized in order to maximize on rental. It was not at all compatible with SPACE.  From the onset we decided that we wanted to recapture the charm of the original building with as much authenticity as possible. At the same time we needed to create a voluminous interior. We also had to take into account the fact that the neighbouring buildings were at least 12 stories tall so we had to find a way to make the building stand out in its own way and, of course we had to do so within the confines of some very strict zoning laws that mandate how we could use the space.

Whenever you work with an existing structure you have to deal with the constraints of the building as well as with your budget constraints. Demolition is expensive and there are obvious disadvantages. It was our job to enhance rather than rebuild. One of the problems we faced was that there was not enough height between the floors. To make this work for SPACE we needed much higher ceilings, so we had to reconfigure the floors without interrupting the original structure too much.

Even the glass building in the centre of the project is built over the original building. We had to readjust and strip the internal floor plates and relocate them to new floors. It was a complex procedure. It also had to look right since the internal structure would be exposed by the use of glass.

The fact that it’s a sales site means that there are very specific requirements. The main challenge was designing the middle unit because although modern it had to get along with its neighbours, the two older buildings. We wanted to expose the showroom/furniture and we were trying to figure out how to best accomplish that. The law at the time stated that if a building had Conservation status then the exteriors must not be altered. We had to work with the authorities to change that rule to allow us to give it a more modern and urban look.  Inside, we needed to find the best way to design a showroom that would work well with lots of different brands, many of which are in competition with each other. They needed to be separate but at the same time there has to be a connection between them all. SPACE carried 13 major brands and each had a different design philosophy. In the end it was SPACE that determined the location of each brand and how much floor space to allocate to each and it was our job to make that possible.

SPACE was very adamant about creating an experience for their clients. They were very particular about the lighting and for the music they installed a Bang & Olufsen sound system. To complete the picture, they even customized their own scent for The . Every detail was taken into consideration to enhance the shopping experience in a homely setting, so that the customer can understand the pieces and the environment.

spacefurniture.com.sg

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