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Southeast Asia’s Style Guide


Eager to experience the best in design in Asia? Here, our hit list of the smartest addresses in Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok. By JENNIFER CHEN

Published on Jun 25, 2010

Opened in 2004, the quirky 54-room JIA (1–5 Irving Street, Causeway Bay; +852 3196 9000; still looks fresh and innovative, with its chandeliers, beaded African chairs and satin sofas. A bit more sedate but no less stylish, Hotel LKF (33 Wyndham Street, Central; +852 3518 9688; appeals to both young executives and night owls. Staying in Hong Kong for longer? Then check into The Putman (202 Queen’s Road, Central; +852 2233 2233), the eponymous serviced apartment complex by André Putman, the French design legend famed for eclectic projects such as The Morgans Hotel in New York and the Concorde.

Hong Kong abounds with restaurants where the food and decor are equally tasty. Australian-run Lotus (37–43 Pottinger Street, Central; +852 2543 6290; dishes up delicious versions of Southeast Asian street food classics and cocktails in a warm setting furnished with leather chairs and beautifully carved lattice screens. Behind heavy oakwood doors and down a staircase lined with Buddha images lies Yun Fu (Basement, 43–55 Wyndham Street, Central; +852 2116 8855), a northern Chinese restaurant that fuses traditional Chinese décor with a modern, edgier aesthetic (as evidenced in its stunning circular bar lined with an ornately carved wooden bench).

For a region rich in history and culture, museums, sadly, are not the forte for most Southeast Asian countries; often, they’re little more than dusty storage rooms. Singapore, however, is the exception, with plenty of well-thought-out spaces. Reopened in 2006 after an extensive renovation, the National Museum of Singapore (93 Stamford Road; +65 6332 5642; deftly mixes the old with the new, down to its design, which incorporates a new glass-cloaked extension into the original colonial structure. Design fans can get their fill at the red dot design museum (28 Maxwell Road; +65 6327 8027; Located in the old police headquarters (now painted brick-red), the institute celebrates all things design-related, from fashion to cars, and it also hosts a design market the first weekend of every month.


Shopping is the great Singaporean pastime, so it comes as no surprise that it runs the gamut of design: from cheap-and-cheerful Ikea (317 Alexandra Road; +65 6786 6868) to cult haute designers such as Giambattista Valli at The Link (01–01 Mandarin Gallery, 330 Orchard Road; +65 6836 3238). Besides the offerings along Ann Siang Hill and Haji Lane, check out Anthropology (B1-77–78, Raffles City Shopping Center, 252 North Bridge Road; +65 6336 3655), which carries T-shirts and home wares by Hong Kong designer G.O.D., as well as its own business accessories made from recycled leather. In the mood for something more offbeat? Check out Forest + Trees (No. 03-02, The Cathay Building, 2 Handy Road; +65 6734 8454), a nail salon cum design consultancy cum shop that sells Hong Kong artist Carrie Chau’s fanciful illustrations and sculptures.

Design hotels have caught on big in Bangkok. Unfortunately, they often fall into one of two categories: uncomfortable minimalist box or repository of Victorian kitsch. Two class acts—from completely different ends of the spectrum—are The Eugenia (267 Soi 31, Sukhumvit Road; +66 2259 9017), a colonial fantasy stuffed with antique furniture and maps, and period touches such as copper soaking bathtubs, and Ma Du Zi (9/1 New Ratchadapisek Road, corner of Sukhumvit Soi 16; +66 2615 6400), a new, exclusive property that effectively blends Islamic screens, marble floors and dark wood with a contemporary touch.


A pioneer in the gentrification of Thonglor, home decor shop Geo (912/3 Soi 55, Sukhumvit Road; +66 2381 4324; has moved to a larger space, just a block away from its old location. With a distinctive green shopfront, the airy new digs showcase Geo’s eccentric mix of home wares (including delicate chandeliers wrought from wire), stationery and gardening tools. Upstairs, there’s a small selection of clothes and baubles from up-and-coming local designers. Bangkok has rightly earned a reputation as a hunting ground for furniture. Head over to Casa Pagoda (43/12 Soi 31, Sukhumvit Road; +66 2662 2263;, where you’ll find vintage-style leather club chairs and colorful armoires.


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  • National Museum of Singapore, Singapore museum, Asian museum, Asia travel
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