By Khetsirin Pholdhampalit
The Nation Weekend
SINGAPORE’S most famous shopping precinct, Orchard Road, has long been lined with the stores and boutiques of the world’s leading brands. Today it is also home to the brightest and best of local creations thanks to the opening last month of the two-and-a-half-storey building known as Design Orchard.
Design Orchard is a new retail showcase of designed-in-Singapore brands and also features a co-working/studio space for designers. (courtesy of Design Orchard)
A retail space dedicated to showcasing local talent through 61 home-grown brands covering fashion, beauty and lifestyle, stationery and souvenirs, the new mall – a joint development of the JTC Corporation, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Enterprise Singapore and standing at the junction of Cairnhill and Orchard Roads – will become both a one-stop shopping destination for Singapore products and a workshop centre to groom emerging local designers.
“You can shop for items that you can’t find outside Singapore and indeed several of our brands don’t have physical stores. Tourists today want authenticity and uniqueness and Design Orchard will definitely add to the retail diversity to Orchard Road,” says Ranita Sundra, STB’s director of retail and dining.
The ground floor is a retail space for 61 home-grown brands.
The building, designed by Singapore-based firm WOHA, boasts a minimalist design and a clean and modern look thanks to the predominant use of concrete and glass. The porthole concrete structural walls don’t only soften the hardness but also provide inviting openings of the shop displays and ventilation through the building structure.
The 836-square-metre ground floor is a retail space operated by home-grown retailer Naiise that will also regularly organise events to create more enduring and non-conventional retail experiences for shoppers.
The interactive mirror gives information about the product with a simple touch.
“We offer retail technology with self-checkout stations and interactive mirrors, allowing visitors to enjoy shopping on their own. Visitors can show the products they like to the interactive mirror and it will provide the brand story and product information including choice of colours, sizes, prices and similar products,” says Dennis Tay, chief executive officer of Naiise.
An animal-themed series of products by The Animal Project
Different beasts drawn in black-and-white in a naive-style by autistic artists of The Animal Project (TAP), a social enterprise that celebrates, showcases and supports the abilities of persons with special needs, are featured on a collection of mugs, tumblers, pouches and totes.
TAP is known for its curatorship of artists with special needs who are exceptional in illustrating animals, and their animal-themed products are also available at Singapore Zoo. These artists earn royalties from the sale of products and the TAP Collective is currently made up of five autistic students. Half of the profits go to a charity of TAP’s choosing.
A collection of Peranakan capsule necklaces by Eden+Elie
Eden+Elie, the socially conscious jewellery brand that focuses on developing individuals from communities in need into skilled artisans, offers attractive collections of handmade jewellery inspired by intricate heritage beaded designs.
A selection of products by Onlewo
Home furnishing brand Onlewo – the name means “happy nest” in Mandarin – offers a line of whimsical patterned fabrics used for upholstery, wallpaper and soft furnishings. Founder/designer Mike Tay draws the inspiration from his background in Peranakan culture as well as his interest in Singapore’s cultural diversity.
Peranakan motifs, the vintage elements he found in Little India and Chinatown, cultural buildings as well as Singapore’s iconic landmarks Merlion and Gardens by the Bay are reinterpreted into patterned fabrics and wallpapers, ceramic pieces, accessories and stationery.
Valley Arora, a self-taught photographer, loves to explore her city on foot with a camera in her hand. Her favourite images are old elements and motifs of cultural buildings and heritage row houses that encapsulate the diverse cultures and history of this island-state. The photographs are rendered in highly vivid tones and transferred to cushion covers, laptop sleeves, clutches, scarves, serving trays and coasters.
Products by Valley Arora
The 930sqm second floor slated to open in March will be operated by the Textile and Fashion Federation Singapore (Taff). Called the Cocoon Space, it is set to become an incubation space for fashion designers and will feature co-working spaces and resources such as a Makers Studio equipped with professional sewing equipment and a Fabric Library offering a wide selection of textiles.
Taff will also run an incubation programme focused on sustainability, innovation and technology for fashion start-ups from both Singapore and around the region.
The sloping green rooftop is a public space set against the backdrop of Orchard Road.
“The Cocoon Space provides aspiring Singapore designers with shared facilities under one roof, enabling them to testbed and prototype their ideas, and hone their business skills more quickly. Most importantly, we want to work with them to create products that are aligned to industry trends and consumer needs. This is why Taff’s incubation programme will focus on fashion technology and sustainability,” says Alan Yeo, director of retail and design at Enterprise Singapore.
The building’s sloping rooftop with greenery, timber benches and pebble-shaped seats is designed as a multi-function public space surrounded by trees wand with bustling Orchard Road as the backdrop.
Design Orchard at the junction of Orchard and Cairnhill Roads is open daily from 10.30am to 9.30pm.