Cover The backlit shelves in the living room showcase objets d’art and collectibles

Cultural and historic references come together in this penthouse apartment in Singapore by Gabriel Tan, the founder of Antimatter

Gabriel Tan’s interior designs feature a marked international flavour—the result of his product-design training and a career that has taken him across continents. The Singapore-born designer has created furniture collections for brands such as Blå Station, Design Within Reach and The Conran Shop; he is also the creative director of local firm Turn Handles and Japanese furniture brand Ariake.

Tan’s design language draws from both historical references and a certain pragmatism. His ability to translate them across disciplines can be witnessed in his increasing portfolio of interior works, which he conceives under his studio, Antimatter.

His astute knowledge of craft techniques and materials is apparent in the high level of precision and detailing. While he moved to Porto, Portugal, last year to oversee Origin—a craft brand he founded to work with local artisans—he runs his Singapore projects with a locally based team.

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This two-storey penthouse in Singapore is a recently completed work. Home to a family of three, the abode features plenty of timber in various grains and textures, which melds well with the surrounding greenery. Scalloped profiles running across the living and dining room ceiling are a delightful touch. The client is a professional in his thirties, who wanted a classic look for his home, while having ample spaces for socialising.

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“Considering the client’s preferences for an old-world aesthetic and dark timber and copper, we took a contemporary approach to create a tactile and multisensorial home using a varied material palette,” says Tan. “We contrasted the more visually impactful social living spaces against the more minimal, private sanctuaries of the bedrooms and bathrooms.”

Tan highlights the lofty ceiling height of the apartment. “The vaulted ceiling lends a sense of scale and rhythm to the large living and dry kitchen areas. I used to spend a lot of time in Barcelona and was always fascinated by Catalan vaulted ceilings,” he explains.

Marmorino plaster on the walls provides subtle texture, which also highlights the dramatic choice of fixtures. In the dining area, circular elements such as the pendant lights designed by New York-based Apparatus Studio soften the look of the space. They complement the round Molteni&C dining table, which is integrated with a lazy Susan to suit the family’s dining habits.

The open kitchen behind the dining area caps the layered common spaces. Dark oak joinery panels, as well as copper and bronze accents, add to the old-world charm. “The dry kitchen’s Calacatta marble wall provides a rich backdrop for the owner’s kitchenware and wines,” adds Tan.

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Parallel to these spaces is a generous balcony, fenced by elegant screens adorning the building’s facade. A bar counter and ten-seater dining table cater to the client’s love of entertaining and al fresco dining. Wicker chairs from Feelgood Designs and a long bench from Ariake lend a casual feel.

Any home designed by Tan is always well furnished. Here, he combines furniture from established luxury brands, up-and-coming labels from various parts of the world, and his own designs customised to specific spaces.

For example, in the bedrooms, he designed the dressing table, bed, bedhead and bedside tables. The wall behind the bed is a canvas for visual tricks. Half of it is clad in light-grey oak panels in a chevron pattern, which is played up by a pendant lamp from Allied Maker. The other half is left simple, adorned only with a hanging monochromatic artwork.

Taking every opportunity to enhance banal elements, Tan covered an existing beam above the bay window with an arched, dark wood feature, echoed beneath the seat by a line of timber strips. He also replaced the en-suite bathroom wall with a sliding glass door.

Following Tan’s theme of dark versus light, a door in the master bedroom leads from the lighter-toned bedroom into a study saturated with timber and chocolate colours. A minimalist coffee table topped with white Bianco Carrara marble counterpoints a dark leather Chesterfield sofa, both designed by Tan.

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“The client wanted this space to not just be a study, but also suitable for sharing a drink with a close friend. It is a conscious departure from the flat and brightly lit corporate office where he would have earlier spent the day,” says Tan, on the aim of the room emulating a speakeasy. On the wall, a large, expressive painting of a woman by Thai artist Silawit Poolsawat tempers the masculine feel.

The designer’s skill at creating emotive atmospheres culminates at the stairwell, which is illuminated by ambient light. At the landing, a bent-ash timber panelling now defines the formerly nondescript transitional zone. It curves upward toward a Bocci chandelier, whose glass orbs trickle down the lofty space like stars.

This story was first published in the April issue of Tatler Homes Singapore; the issue is available with our compliments on Magzter until May 31, 2021.

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