Embracing Our Love for Singapore’s Art Deco Treasures — A Mesmerising, Beautiful Blend of the East & West
BY SCENE SHANG
At the opening launch of SCENE SHANG in 2015, we debuted the EMBRACE ME Art Deco Cushion Cover Collection - a tribute to Art Deco architecture in Singapore.
WE'D ALWAYS LOVED ART DECO BUILDINGS IN SINGAPORE, even before we knew the style by its name. We’d wander through the lovely low brick blocks featuring speedlines and porthole windows in Tiong Bahru Estate, look up at the facades of the shophouses near Boat Quay to see symmetrical stepped shapes framing large Chinese characters, which proclaimed the names of the businesses that once resided there, and marvelled at the beauty of the grey stoic facade of the historic Cathay Building that was once the tallest building in Singapore and South East Asia.
What was life like then? Who built these and why did they build them?
Our favourite Art Deco buildings featured in an exuberant illustrative palette.
It was only while being away in the Asian Art Deco capital of the world, Shanghai, that we came to realise the name of this style of architecture and that made us take a renewed look at Singapore’s very own Art Deco style.
Here are 3 (out of the many reasons) why we love Singapore’s very own Art Deco style
1. Clean, Symmetrical and Geometric Shapes
Art Deco shophouse along South Bridge Rd, set against skyscrapers. Simple and clean geometric shapes adorn the facade, lending just the right amount of grandeur with a perfect symmetry.
Facades are usually composed of geometric shapes that are arranged symmetrically. As compared with Shanghai or New York, Art Deco in Singapore or around South East Asia tends to be less embellished - we love that the grandeur can still be invoked through simplicity.
2. A Western Style adapted to the East
Row of shop houses on South Bridge Road, 2019.
The Art Deco style was said to have originated in Paris and inspired the world in the 1930s, including Singapore. Art Deco was prevalent up until the 1950s and the style was adapted to suit local preferences and culture. Such adaptations included the integration of business names written in Chinese characters and being featured very prominently in the facade design.
3. A Witness to an Exuberant Era
Many of the Art Deco buildings were built during a very exciting time in Singapore and bore witness to many social, cultural and technological changes in our country. The Cathay Building was home to a flourishing Asian film scene and was also the first to have an air-conditioned cinema. In a time without the internet, the venue provided a glimpse into the world outside of Singapore.
The rich history and vibrant stories of these Art Deco buildings form an indelible part of Singapore’s cultural heritage. Sentimental. Beautiful. Iconic.
In a tribute to these storied landmarks, we’ve designed the EMBRACE ME Collection, reimagining their glory days in exuberant hues. This time, we’ve also made them in the softest and smoothest velvet material, for a touch of luxe, fitting for these historical beauties.
They are an invitation to embrace our architectural treasures, in every sense of the word.
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