Cover The winners of the Tatler Design Awards 2021

We unveil the winners of Tatler Design Awards 2021, held on April 8 at the Straits Clan

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works,” declared Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple. The tech visionary had a great love of design and his modernist childhood home sparked his desire to create sleek, human-centric and intuitive products for everyone. This emphasis on the multi-faceted elements of good design is similarly celebrated by the Tatler Design Awards (TDA).

Now into its fifth edition, the Tatler Design Awards 2021 is sponsored by ArovaAureo GalleryBoxx EuroGaggenauHafaryMM GalleriOkamuraRoche Bobois and Spin. The awards ceremony lauds creative concepts as well as functionality and practicality, honouring the most innovative residential and commercial projects recently completed in Singapore. This year, the winners of the 2021 edition was presented via a livestream held at Straits Clan on 8 April.

The 10 projects featured below represent the boldest visions and best execution, as realised by these homegrown talents.

Above We unveil the winners of the Tatler Design Awards 2021—watch their acceptance speeches here.

Best Innovation: The New State Courts Complex

During the public two-stage Open Design Competition organised by the State Courts in 2011, Serie + Multiply Consultants impressed the jury with their simple but dignified proposal for the New State Courts Complex.

A collaboration between London-based Serie Architects and local firm Multiply Architects, Serie + Multiply Consultants worked closely with principal consultant and architect CPG Consultants to realise the design of this adaptive reuse project. The tallest government building in Singapore to date, the complex comprises of two new 178m-high towers, dubbed the 'Court Tower' and the 'Office Tower'. Connected by a series of link bridges, the 35-storey towers house a total of 53 courtrooms and 54 hearing chambers. 

It communicates its influences in its design intent with the use of colours and sustainable materials that are representative of the local heritage in Chinatown

— Sabrina Long, dean of the School of Art and Design at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA)

The courtroom tower is an open frame with terraces housing the courtrooms with the lack of an external facade representing the openness of the judicial process. Its architectural exterior is clad in ribbed terracotta, mirroring the tiled roofs of the Chinatown shophouses nearby, while lush high-rise gardens add calming greenery and filter out the tropical sun.

“The project opens a new typology of what courts could be, reinterpreting the relationship between the open and the enclosed,” says Erwin Viray, head of pillar, Architecture and Sustainable Design at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and TDA jury member.

“It communicates its influences in its design intent with the use of colours and sustainable materials that are representative of the local heritage in Chinatown,” concurs Sabrina Long, dean of the School of Art and Design at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) and TDA jury member.

Best Architectural Concept: RT+Q

RT+Q co-founder Rene Tan revels in using his 4,811sqft semi-detached residence as a testing ground for various architectural and design concepts. Dubbed the “House of Spice”, this abode takes its name from the terraces on which herbs and vegetables thrive, providing verdant touches and delicious complements to the family’s dining table.

The home’s modernist concrete shell incorporates boxes in corten steel, glass and timber, with an inner wall-and-glass layer shielding occupants from the elements. Inside, a series of surprises and stories piques interest, be it a two-storey-high wardrobe area or an unexpected swivel door that leads to a secret music room.

“The house offers a nice insight into the architect’s personality; I like the facade and its composition,” says Mark Wee, executive director of DesignSingapore Council and TDA jury member.

Teo Su Seam, partner of LTW Designworks and TDA jury member agrees, highlighting the “clever use of space that keeps the home design engaging and easy to maintain”.

(Related: Home Tour: How a Singapore Architect's New House Became a Space For Creative Experiments

Best Bespoke Concept: Architology Interiors

Housing a family of four, this Goodwood Residence apartment celebrates an intriguing mix of diverse materials and accents such as exotic shagreen and ostrich leather, Palissandro marble, onyx and brushed metal. Metal panels, sofas and rugs sport a softly luxurious rose gold tint, as do the pair of Devialet speakers in the living room.

“This is a truly original design with unexpected details realised in a luxurious and memorable way,” says Katherine Pooley, founder of Katharine Pooley and TDA jury member. “Outstanding design execution and craftmanship,” comments Steve Leung, founder of Steve Leung Design Group and TDA jury member.

Quirky touches such as a customised “aquarium” for Lalique fish figurines, a glass-beaded feature wall and a safari-themed bedroom abound, while earthy tones of beige, brown and cream as well as neutral shades keep the whole look refined and understated. Verdant views of the central open lawn from the living room, balcony and master bedroom soothe the eye and offer respite from the stressors of daily life.

This is a truly original design with unexpected details realised in a luxurious and memorable way

— British interior designer Katharine Pooley


(Related: Home Tour: A Family Apartment That Combines Rose Gold, Shagreen And Marble

Best Penthouse: Design Intervention

Crafted by Design Intervention, this penthouse atop the St Regis hotel in Bangkok makes the most of its enviable site and stunning vistas. The home of a bachelor in his thirties, the apartment was reconfigured to an open-plan layout to suit the client’s lifestyle and capitalise on the views. Customised rugs in the living room feature a mottled blue pattern that mirrors the sky and skyline; the subtle use of blue against the largely neutral colour scheme is meant to “draw in the colour of the sky to give the feeling that the penthouse is floating among the clouds”, says Nikki Hunt, founder of the firm.

Wood veneer and internal lighting add warmth and atmosphere, while various bespoke furnishings such as a special armchair inspired by the Bugatti Type 57—one of the homeowner’s favourite cars—lend a unique touch.

“It definitely has that wow factor but it’s also a great example of timeless design,” says Kissa Castañeda, editorial director, Homes and Travel of Tatler Asia. “The use of the reflective material on the ceiling reinforces the framing of the million-dollar view, which is the highlight of being in a penthouse,” Viray agrees.

The use of the reflective material on the ceiling reinforces the framing of the million-dollar view

— Erwin Viray, head of Pillar, Architecture and Sustainable Design at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD)

(Related: Home Tour: Design Intervention Transforms A Penthouse Bachelor Pad In Bangkok

Best Tropical Concept: Foma Architects

This 9,838sqft corner terrace house is literally brimming with lush foliage; apt since it is owned by horticulture enthusiasts. Screens shield the interior of the monolithic east-west-facing structure from the heat and glare, while operable full-height windows let in the north-south breezes. “The design captures the tropical essence of its site while implementing a strong composition,” says Long, commenting on the award-winning project.

Glassed walls and balconies ensure views of the courtyard garden from every angle—even the lift shaft is clad in a transparent shell to this end. On the upper floors, an abundance of greenery in planter boxes surrounds the entire extent of the balcony, forming an emerald cloak over the bedrooms. The foliage heightens the sensation of being immersed in nature.

An earthy palette gels with the home’s garden concept, as does the clever use of materials: the front and rear facades are clad in travertine to bear the brunt of the tropical climate and insulate heat, while durable and termite-resistant chengal wood is used for the outdoor decking and wall cladding. “It was an interesting decision to turn the house inwards and create a tropical garden within the courtyard,” muses Wee.

(Related: Home Tour: A Nature-Inspired Abode With Lush Green Terraces)

Best Use of Art: Archetype Studio

Left unoccupied for a decade, this eighty-year-old property has undergone a much-needed facelift. Much of the original building was preserved, such as the expansive driveway with separate entry and exit gates, distinctive reinforced-concrete ledges, and second-storey balcony motifs. Elsewhere, family heirlooms and portraits co-exist with tree-inspired sculptures by British artist Mehrdad Tafreshi and light-hued Italian oak flooring.

The result is a home that boasts a reinvigorated charm. Mark Wee, executive director of DesignSingapore Council, sums up the home’s appeal succinctly: “A beautiful mix of Eastern and Western art that tells a story.” “The art deco details and family heirlooms add a strong historical presence and homely feel,” adds Teo.

The art deco details and family heirlooms add a strong historical presence and homely feel

— Teo Su Seam, partner of LTW Designworks

(Related: Home Tour: A House With Art Deco Details Designed To Embody Its Family History

Best Use of Colour (Reader’s Choice): E&A Interiors

You’re bound to do a double take when you spot the Jaguar E-Type sports car parked in the middle of this living room—but it’ll be for all the right reasons. This three-storey property by E&A Interiors celebrates colour with so much joie de vivre thanks to its owners, a young couple who wanted a bright, airy sanctuary. “Every room was a dare, and it worked,” says Wee.

The automobile was the inspiration for the design process. A ramp was added so the luxury vehicle could be driven into the house, with walls knocked down in the living room and kitchen to accommodate the car and open up these common areas. The azure walls pay homage to the home’s proximity to the ocean, while allowing the car’s fiery hue to stand out.

Elsewhere, the blue and green accents create a soothing vibe and channel the surrounding environment; all the furnishings were customised to suit the well-travelled owners’ preferences. “The fabulous finishes, artworks and fabric choices really stood out to me,” says Pooley. “The end result is completely unforgettable.”

Every room was a dare, and it worked

— Mark Wee, executive director of DesignSingapore Council

(Related: Home Tour: A Classic Car Is The Centrepiece Of A Couple's Elegant House In Singapore

Best Luxury Concept (Reader’s Choice): Summerhaus D’zign

Close collaboration was the key to the successful makeover of this semi-detached house, as the clients had given Summerhaus D’zign free rein in realising the brief. The only requirement was that aesthetics had to strike a balance with functionality and practicality.

The interior design firm engaged in constant dialogue with the owners to discover their preferences, eventually settling on a luxurious yet cosy interior tailor-made for social gatherings. Indirect lighting plays up the various materials and textures in this home, with wood, quartz, travertine, stainless steel, tinted mirrors, wallpaper and special effects paint all employed to stunning effect in the 4,500sqft property.

Other additions such as a bespoke dining table-and-bar, customised headboards and side tables in the bedrooms, and plush cushions and rugs ensure an upscale yet homely feel. Hidden cabinets ensure adequate storage options for the three-generation family’s needs.

Well-executed lighting and metalwork create a strongly luxurious interior

— Clint Nagata, founder of Blink Design Group


(Related: Home Tour: A Semi-Detached House With A Glamorous Open-Plan Living And Dining Room

Best Living Room (Reader’s Choice): Prestige Global Designs

This 5,000sqft strata house in the northeastern part of Singapore embraces a minimalist scheme that seems almost austere at first glance. Look closely, however, and delightful surprises emerge to capture and hold the gaze. In the living room, a full-height bookshelf houses colourful vinyl Kaws Companion figures, whose vibrant tones liven up the largely grey setting. “This monochromatic concept works, with the living space suitable for both socialising and relaxation,” says Long.

Materials such as marble, granite and leather communicate luxury and are highlighted by the abundance of natural light in the living and dining areas. Overhead, a mirrored ceiling subtly demarcates these two zones, while lending depth to the monochromatic scheme. The TV console, shelving and pendant lights feature silver trimmings that add a luxurious sheen to the living and dining zones.

Throughout the house, various black and grey marble varieties impress with a rich range of patterns and textures, resulting in interesting layers punctuated by pops of colour in the form of the collectibles. “Creativity thrives under constraints—this interior is both sleek and texturally rich,” says Hong Xinying, managing editor of Tatler Homes Singapore.

(Related: Home Tour: A Monochromatic House With Fashion-Inspired Design Influences

Best Show Unit (Reader’s Choice): Designworx Interior Consultant

Representing the best of both old and new is this black-and-white bungalow, which balances its iconic elements with modern touches. Designworx Interior Consultant kickstarted the makeover with the right visual balance in each space, while adhering to the guidelines that conserved the original design of the building. Ceiling coves, staircase balustrades and marble flooring lined with black trimmings echo the abode’s iconic black-outlined main door and windows, as do black screens and geometric accent cushions.

“The introductory vista through the entrance into the double-height foyer sets the tone for the entire property: chic and impressive,” says Katharine Pooley, commenting on the project. “The home’s design represents the local spirit in a truly contemporary way,” adds Steve Leung.

The foyer’s lofty height is accentuated with statement lights; at the main entrance, a custom SpectraOne chandelier creates drama, juxtaposed with a wicker pendant light on the facade. In the stately dining room, a bespoke 12-seater dining table with bookmatched black forest marble slabs holds court. The Minotti sofa in the formal living area is accompanied by customised rugs; in the restful master bedroom, an Amante Plisse king-sized bed affords a sense of modern elegance.

The home’s design represents the local spirit in a truly contemporary way

— Steve Leung, Steve Leung Design Group and TDA jury member

(Related: House Tour: A Black And White Bungalow With A Contemporary Interior

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