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WHEN it comes to shopping for lighting, there are usually two ways to go. First there are the upmarket stores which retail aesthetically stunning pieces such as those from Flos, Artemide and Brand Van Egmond, which can cost from a few thousand dollars.
Or you could head to the lighting shops along Balestier Roads, which offer lights at much lower prices. There is nothing wrong with shopping there, but often the pieces are merely functional or are copies of their dearer cousins.
Seeing a gap in between these two markets, designer Nathan Yong decided to open his own store, Blackhole Lighting. "Blackhole serves as an alternate choice as we represent smaller but design-focused companies or the producer-designer, offering design that is fresh and handcrafted so that customers can be sure they are buying the originals," he says.
Even the name reflects the store's vision. A black hole is a region of space from which gravity prevents anything, including light, from escaping. "I want Blackhole to be a destination where all good lighting design will be concentrated," says Mr Yong.
Some of the brands that he carries include NicheModern from the US, Petite Friture from France, David Trubridge from New Zealand, and LeeBroom and Decode London, both from the UK. "These companies are young and fresh. They keep pushing for design excellence, challenging the status quo. I see them as the future of lighting design," says Mr Yong.
He picks lights made of unusual materials and have more sculptural forms. They include the Brokis Memory ceiling lights, from $380, that resemble balloons that have floated to the ceiling, or Llot Llov Ray Pendant lights where the shades are made from either cotton, merino or angola wood. These cost from $1,050. Then there is also the Lee Broom Decanterlights, priced from $780, that resemble crystal perfume bottles being hung up.
Mr Yong is an award-winning furniture designer, who runs two furniture stores, Grafunkt and Folks. He also designs for international brands such as Living Divani and Ligne Roset.
Furniture is his main focus, but Mr Yong has also designed a few lamps. The industry veteran notes that homeowners these days see lights doing more than merely illuminating a space. "Lamps are becoming functional art. People want pieces that are talking points," he says.