Couple sacrifice 2 bedrooms in Tiong Bahru flat to showcase their fascinating collectibles

Couple sacrifice 2 bedrooms in Tiong Bahru flat to showcase their fascinating collectibles

Who: Leon Lai, the co-founder of creative communications agency GOVT.

With a background in communications and having worked in the advertising industry for seven years, Leon co-founded GOVT in 2012. Fuelled with a passion to create work that is locally and culturally relevant, the 31 year-old has produced campaigns for the likes of Airbnb, Nestle, DBS, Absolut Vodka and Haagen-Dazs.

The award-winning GOVT is also a curator for Singaplural 2016, a showcase of local design that is part of Singapore Design Week.

Home: Four-room Built-To-Order HDB fl at in Tiong Bahru

Size: 1,001 sqf

For Leon Lai and his wife, Meryl Ho, their pop culture collectibles mean so much to them that they were willing to sacrifice two of the three bedrooms in their new flat, for a more spacious layout that best shows off their treasured objects.

They engaged designers Wong Zihao and Liew Guofeng of Studio Super Safari, who "designed a home not just for the couple, but for all their things, too!"

In fact, Leon had brought the designers to his storage-rental facility prior to the design process, so they knew exactly what they were dealing with.

"I'm a hoarder by nature!" laughs Leon, who has amassed a variety of vintage furniture, sneakers - over 50 pairs of them - Absolut vodka bottles and retro Singapore Telecom rotary dial phones, among other things, over the years.

Zihao and Guofeng ended up building display shelves over every possible wall of the home to house everything the couple wanted to showcase!

For Leon's large collection of shoes, the designers constructed an L-shape display that leads from the foyer to the living room. Finished in a light wood-tone laminate from Lamitak, it has a striking geometric form with rows of linear "cut-outs" to place the colourful sneakers.

Besides concealing the access to the bomb shelter and common bathroom, the structure was also designed to accommodate a large Donald Duck "sculpture" (actually the seat of an amusement park carousel ride) that the couple acquired in Bangkok.

"Since it's rare for a guy to take up way more space for his shoes than his wife, this Donald Duck display is for Meryl!" says Leon, regarding his wife's fondness for the cartoon character.

Alongside the spacious dining room is a visually arresting feature wall created with Indonesian teak pieces laid in a chevron pattern, against which a black steel-frame open shelving is hung. On display is an assortment of their favourite items, such as old food tins, incense bottles from Japanese cult brand Neighborhood, and a working vintage radio. The solid wood finishing continues on the reverse side of the wall, segueing into the adjacent living room.

In place of what used to be two bedrooms, the open-concept living and study area features Leon's prized collection of Absolut Vodka bottles, including limited editions. Arranged in a backlit tinted-glass-and-timber display, the bottles glow softly and take on an artistic quality. "I actually have over 300 bottles, but there are only about 100 here!" says the homeowner, who started collecting them when he was in university.

The furniture peppering the home is a mix of vintage pieces; Leon says his love for vintage furniture was cultivated during the years he spent growing up in his Grandma's home. Besides local finds, he also has an Einar Larsen sofa and a Hans Wegner armchair - Danish pieces bought from Noden Collective.

Seeing as every nook and cranny is put to good use, the renovation - which cost about $90,000 - provided Leon and Meryl with a stylish canvas to curate and present their cherished possessions.

Where to go: Studio Super Safari, Tel: 9144-4837

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