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Design Diaries – Overcoming Site Restrictions

Locally there has always been no shortage of complains with our homes. For example, why is our bath so small, why the house feels so claustrophobic and how can we ever get sufficient storage etc. To circumvent these issues, a designer really has to put the client’s lifestyle into consideration and apply it to the space through proper space planning.

Today let us look into how creative space planning and solutions can transform one such home. Recently we are tasked with designing a one-bedroom unit with all the above mentioned issues identified as prevalent with most Singapore apartments. Not really helping too is that this particular unit have more than its fair share of additional issues. There is first and foremost no A/C ledge/yard; along with its odd angled walls. This quickly becomes every home owner’s nightmare of a place to start renovations with.

However, by catering into the client’s lifestyle and looking into solutions to resolve the associated problems with site constraints. We have managed to merge their lifestyle needs into the design; creating a simple yet luxurious home perfect for their needs while resolving all the issues bugging the site. Let us understand how it’s achieved by looking through the process; beginning with problem identifications followed by space planning and last but not least the resultant design renders.

Currently there is no AC Ledge planned for this apartment block. Window units were initially setup for the space and as the popularity of such units drop off, the owners have no choice but to start installing modern fan coil units with outdoor compressors mounted unsightly within the unit; compromising both aesthetics and serenity.

For visual references of how tight the spaces felt prior, let us take a look at the photos below depicting the current site conditions.

From left to right, the photos shows the current conditions of the areas as mentioned: Bedroom, Proposed Wardrobe/Study Corner and last but not least the bathroom.

From left to right, the photos shows the current conditions of the areas as mentioned: Living followed by Kitchen.

These are the before and after plans for the project. The original layout was different as depicted in the site photos as the previous owners had further add partition walls to create an enclosed store and study from the living area. Our current client envisioned for spacious bath areas, walk-in wardrobes, areas where they could have a simple meal and talk about their day e.g. while achieving an open and spacious layout. “Would be best if we can resolve the air conditioning issues and have the laundry looked into too” was their closing statement on their wish list. They note that it will not be simple to achieve the results given the conditions and restrictions we have on site.

What happened next took our clients by surprise; we have managed to firstly take advantage of the odd angled walls to insert a shower feature right in the middle of the apartment where it now crave out the remaining areas perfectly to their needs. Took advantage too of the AC problems by ticking their dream list as we resolve the issues. We have created a full height enclosure on the end of the kitchen near the windows where it will now house the compressor which also become the laundry area. The space around the area is to be left bare not only to enhance aesthetics of the space overall but also to allow for laundry hanging on the collapsible rack which neatly hides itself in the laundry cabinet when not in use. Guess pictures says a thousand words; let us cut the readings short and have a look at the resultant designs from the images that follows.

The Overview of the project showing how the central shower feature craft out the spaces.
The kitchen/dining area with the AC enclosure on the side closer to windows.
The cozy living area.
Looking out from the shower feature area towards the ‘bath’ area and walk-in wardrobe.
Semi see through facade behind the bed backboard further enhances the sense of space.

Designer Hobbies 101 – Digital Doodling

When a designer no longer sees designing as a job, hobbies we tend to have outside of work… is designing! When we get so entrenched into the lifestyle of being one, we no longer see designing as work anymore.

What happened to the lifestyle of a designer that’s meant to be interesting and varied? Why do we choose a hobby that literally our job? Don’t get us wrong, submerging ourselves in fresh experiences, interacting with people and interesting environments is still the main source of our inspirations. But what happens if after we get inspirations and don’t have an avenue to express into our works soon enough? That’s right we will start to design with these inspirations for a virtual project or make notes of them in various forms of media.

The exact science which we as individual designers prefer to note these inspirations varies from person to person. Occasionally we may simply just have moments where we mentally work on our designs virtually within our mind quietly. Or sometimes we may also create abstract tactile models, jot notes or just simply sketch to create mental reminders. All these actions serve to refresh ourselves of the inspirations when we need them again. Basically every devoted designers to our belief would perform some or all of the above mentioned acts from time to time. However each of us will tend to have our own preferred prominent way to preserve these moments of our inspirations.

For today, let us focus on Marie B. Baxter preferred way of recording her inspirations. As a sharp individual who tends to hit straight into the thick of actions in life, her preferred method of noting her inspirations is also just as direct. She does what we termed as digital doodling whenever she feels inspired. And here are some of her interesting digital doodles.

Life of a Designer

At Para.graph we see ourselves making a lifestyle choice rather than a career choice when we choose to become a designer. Late nights, endless unexpected issues cropping up and dusty hazardous site environments are all part and parcel of a designer’s life. If anyone ever tell you being a designer is easy, we think its because they are not entrenched sufficiently into their works. Guess the next question on everyone’s mind is why do we choose to be a designer and even made our mind to be one forever if life of being one is so tough?

Well for one that’s because life wasn’t meant to be easy in the first place; and we too believe if one doesn’t go through the tough phase, they will not appreciate the nicer things in life. Over the years as we grow as designers, we came to realise the path of a designer is one of a life journeys and not a career. We learn to appreciate every life experience and turn them into inspirations.  We start to develop a desire to learn more about different cultures and seek to interact with more people so that our minds are broaden. This in turn help us to grow as designers, learn to appreciate life more and gain the ability to foster stronger bonds between us and our clients and also within the team.

Beautiful designs stem from intimate understanding of lifestyle needs and memorable life experiences. And we seek to share more of our journey through this blog. Be it be an interesting project process, new discoveries, memorable travel experiences or even as mundane as inspiring food options or recipes; we hope to share it with you, the simple joys and falls of a designer. We hope more to know design is about life.

One of the best way to get inspirations is to explore nature. Let us share with you more about our interactions with nature in the upcoming future.

Our new resolution is to start logging our work progress more often and hope to share with you how we transform spaces and create more interesting designs.

One of the perks of being a designer is we learn to live life to the fullest. Work hard Play hard is always our number one motto and we will update more not just about our work but also about our escapes.

As designers we learn to appreciate every aspects of life and tend to break away from the office environment norm. Let us share with you whenever we find time once in a while and explore our culinary skills.

Larger than Life

Singapore is and always will be a world renowned city, a metropolis bursting with activities and loaded with food options galore. Coupled with low crime rates and relatively well planned transport network, it is not surprising why people choose to flock and gather in this small city named Singapore. Perhaps the major downside to all these benefits of living in Singapore is the scarcity of space; evident also in most major cities throughout the world. That naturally mean small dwelling for most being the common norm for people living here.

It is everyone’s dream to have a calming and relaxing abode to return after a long day; on everyone’s wish list to find respite in a simple non-cluttered spacious environment where they could unwind daily. That is where careful space planning and subtle details being implemented spatially could come into play. This is where a good designer can work with you to understand your lifestyle needs to make the difference for your home.

One of the best way to achieve a spaciousness feel is to seamlessly marriage different zones into a single continuous flow of space. Here you can see the walkway areas, existing storeroom structure and living (From left to Right) being marriage into a single communal living space. Storage needs are cleanly tucked along the walls to meet storage needs without impacting the open flow of the space much.

Quite often you will find awkward niches and wasted corner spaces throughout local apartments. By clever detailing; the once awkward corner of the living area is converted into a sleek useful storage area that’s purposeful and aesthetically pleasing.

Although Bay Windows (beneath the bunkbeds) are often visually pleasing; quite often they become a hindrance to a home owner when they are struggling for space as they tend to reduce the footprint of a room significantly.  Here we remodelled the room to mimic the essence of a playful treehouse. Creating sufficient spaces for rest and play without overloading the space.

The Beginning of A New Journey

After home coming from a long stint overseas, Jack the founder and managing director for Para.graph found himself in a starkly different design and work environment. What has not changed is his belief in designs should be intimate, full of character and individuality. After a few years of exploring and running a design studio in Singapore, he decided to revamp the business to fulfil his belief in design. With a purposeful curated team the new journey begins.