Property 2006
Published March 30, 2006

Eclectic choices in furniture


WHO would have guessed that something as remote and archaic as Baroque style could once again be fashionable? Yet it is.

Changing tastes: Italia from furniture store SPACE. The showroom, clean-stark look is giving way to a more personalised and lived-in feel

Furniture store SPACE has one of the widest ranges of contemporary designs and it says the Bourgie lamp by Kartell - a decorative, old world table lamp entirely reworked in polycarbonate - is currently the best-selling item.

SPACE visual merchandiser Chin Fatt Lim says: 'We are moving away from the showroom, clean-stark look towards a more personalised, individualistic, lived-in feel.' And an increasingly popular trend is to 'mix old, antique or flea market finds with newly acquired pieces'.

So hang on to your Chesterfield sofa, chandeliers and damask wall coverings because these are all making a big comeback.

Floral look

'We are always harking back to the past for inspiration. The retro look a few years back is a case in point. Now, the floral, pastoral look, reinvented by designers like Tord Boontje, especially on fabrics, cushions and even lights is a welcome respite from the cold, minimalist look,' he adds.

Interestingly, the 'minimalist' trend - loosely defined as having as little furniture as possible - coincided with the equally austere period in the economy.

But the economy is looking up and architect and interior designer Andrew Tan of Seeds Architecture believes that homeowners now want a bit of 'bling-bling' in their furniture choices too. 'The economy is better and people are looking to express their wealth now, so I am not surprised that chandeliers have suddenly become so popular again,' he says.

It also helps that French design guru Phillipe Starck made chandeliers radically chic when he reintroduced a range of black crystal chandeliers for Baccarat when every other designer was still offering minimalist glass globes.

'Phillipe Starck endorsed the chandelier and now everyone wants one,' adds Mr Tan. And what could be more 'bling-bling' than a $100,000 chandelier?

Kwan Hon May, buyer and retail manager at furniture store X-Tra, says: 'The new look has an expensive, intimate feel. It is more about texture, details and intense colour. These elements combine to create a luxurious atmosphere which perhaps psychologically suggests one has upgraded one's lifestyle.'

Of course, it is possible to follow trends too closely. And while it is easy to change the clothes in your wardrobe, changing the wardrobe itself is more cumbersome, so choose furniture carefully.

'Modern classics still reign,' says Ms Kwan. X-Tra brings in Herman Miller furniture, featuring designs by Charles Eames. 'This brand has been producing furniture since the 1940s and the Eames range is still the top seller at X-Tra,' she reveals.

Still, the most fashionable accessory of the moment is flock wallpaper in a French fleur-de-lis style and X-Tra just so happens to sell this. Ms Kwan says the trend actually took hold in Europe two years ago but as with most trends, 'it takes at least two, three years for the Asian market to catch up'.

Leather club chairs, crystal chandeliers and flock wallpaper all sound a bit eclectic.

But eclecticism seems to be the biggest trend of the moment with shoppers steering clear of a matching set.

Generous budgets

Lawrence Yong of furniture store Lifestorey says its customers are 'pretty adventurous'.

Some furniture shops offer customers packages of pre-selected furniture to take the hassle out of shopping but Mr Yong notes this is fast disappearing. 'People don't want to be restricted anymore,' he says.

And shopping budgets are quite generous too. 'Normally, their budget for the entire home soft furnishings is about $30,000 to $40,000,' he adds.

Architect Andrew Tan says $50,000 is an adequate budget for decorating an average three-bedroom apartment. Of this, $7,000 might be for light fittings alone while curtains and blinds could cost another $10,000.

And if you have only enough money for one item, he suggests getting a really good sofa because it is the most important element in the home. 'Proportion, workmanship and quality materials are important,' he says, and this could cost between $10,000 and $15,000.

The Baccarat chandelier will have to wait.