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Contemporary Colonial Chic

A passion for old world charm and an arduous search for authentic materials elevate the Visvim flagship store in Singapore far above the average fashion boutique.

A collaboration between Creative Director of Visvim Hiroki Nakamura and Architect Naohiko Hino, the project references the historic setting of the Raffles Hotel in Singapore and pairs the brand’s luxury casual aesthetic with 19thcentury elegance. It also continues Visivim’s series of ‘Free International Laboratories’ (F.I.L) and sustains the brand’s core philosophies of simple refinement and artisanal quality.

A defining theme of the fit out was that of celebrating the architecture of the iconic Singaporean landmark and elaborating it within the boutique. From the textured geometry of the parquet floor and the weighty timber bench and cabinets to the antique tin ceiling, the architect went to enormous lengths to create a mood of beautifully worn grandeur. The end result is so convincing that it is easy to assume these elements were pre-existing.

Part of this success is due to the dedication with which materials were sourced – the flooring is original European parquet, and the bar and cabinets are built from 19th century timber salvaged in the United States from abandoned structures. The wall plaster, while not antique, is a special variety available only in Japan; known as shikkui plaster, it is all natural and made of limestone. This exacting research reflects Nakamura’s belief that antique materials deserve to be revived to find new purpose modern society; in his own words it is “breathing new life into this beautiful material.”

Ultimately the boutique creates a wonderfully rich context within which to display Visvim’s products – the blending of classic cuts with bursts of colour and design or suede moccasins updated with contemporary rubber details fits perfectly with the broader interaction between old and new, giving the Singapore Free International Laboratory an aesthetic sophistication rarely found in modern retail environments.


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