Cover Joanne Chew at her Earl of Wood desk from Kartell

Wunderwall’s loft-like space for Fictionist Studio is as inspiring as the abstract art it references

How would you design a space that encapsulates the brand of a multi-disciplinary studio that specialises in branding? With a highly collaborative relationship of course. The studio in question belongs to Fictionist Studio, a multi-disciplinary creative outfit founded and led by Joanne Chew. Chew had established the studio in 2014 and been working out of rented offices until she decided to take the plunge for a permanent studio space in Empire City Damansara.


Measuring about 990 sq ft, Chew was drawn by the unit’s high ceiling and layout which had a Soho duplex vibe. While Chew was confident about styling the space, she knew she needed technical assistance in the renovation. After seeing how interior design firm Wunderwall, approached projects with limited space like Small Shifting Space, she decided to reach out to them.

“We have admired many works by Fictionist which are infused with both cultural and abstract influences and we hit it off the first time we met, discussing everything design for hours. So when Chew approached us to work on her studio, we were all in,” recalls Sharmaine Wong, one of the trio who makes up the young design collective.

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The main inspiration came from Chew’s work and her love for abstract art. “There was a whole collection of artwork which Joanne enthusiastically introduced to us in her old studio. We were struck by how these simple shapes, lines and colours translated into her work,” recalls Wong.

Like an artwork, the space was treated as a blank canvas with the additional design elements forming considered brushstrokes. “With the artwork, furniture and a mountain of books we knew would fill the space, we decided to introduce a white canvas where the backdrop including the floors, walls, and cabinets are painted matte white. This gallery-like approach allows other things we introduce in the space to contrast in intensity,” explains Wong.

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Double-storey neon orange shelves dominate the space, the bright hue being one of Chew’s signature colours, while neutral patterns were inserted via matte white tiles with black grouting adding visual interest to the mini kitchen area. The custom dining table here was made with terrazzo in contrasting black and white based on a terrazzo sample Chew had chanced upon at the Wunderwall office and liked.

For the team’s work area, the designers installed perforated metal cladding against the wall for neat storage and display. Table edges were lined with senply wood veneer to imbue some warmth for the comfort of the team since they would be spending most of their time here. The restrooms sport light mint tiles to freshen up the otherwise windowless space.

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With Wunderwall providing the “canvas” as it were, Chew relished the task of furniture selection and interior styling. Pieces run the gamut from lights from Muuto and Louis Poulsen to classic modern pieces by Philippe Starck and Antonio Citterio, not to mention local brands like Deng and Studio Bikin. In terms of artwork, Chew added to her burgeoning art collection with a light and space sculptural piece, a graphite drawing and a green acrylic painting by Liew Kwai Fei, of whom Chew is a fan.

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Since moving into the studio, Chew and her team have been utilising the space to its full potential. “We're a small, eclectic crew who design, write, illustrate, strategise, animate and more. At the heart of it, we are storytellers and this space facilitates our penchant for storytelling as it encourages conversation because it’s an open one. Every Friday, we cook and have lunch together as part of team bonding. I love styling sets and environments and this space seems to amplify this," says Chew.


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