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Paul McGillick reports from the opening of Space Asia Hub in Singapore.

Singapore began as a shipping hub, then became a finance hub and now it is a furniture hub.

Adding to the growing momentum of the Singapore government’s push to make Singapore the design hub of Asia, Space Furniture has now opened its long-awaited new showroom.

And what a showroom! Certainly Space’s brand partners – just about every iconic European brand you can think of – think so.

They contributed more than SIN$1 million to the SIN$50 million project and showed up en masse for the launch on November 11th.

Previously in the Millennia Walk mall, Space wanted a street front showroom. And, says Director, Katie Page, they wanted it in the Arts Precinct.

“Even at Millennia Walk,” says Katie, “we had architects, designers and customers coming from all over Asia. So, we know people will travel for the right thing.”

Katie Page gives the impression that she is a woman who normally gets what she wants. So, not surprisingly, along with the Arts Precinct location, they got WOHA Architects – their sensational School of Arts building is just around the corner and is Katie’s favourite building – to do the makeover.

It is a fabulous result.

Two heritage buildings – a villa and a conservation shophouse – restored and modified internally linked in the middle by a 4-storey transparent glass insertion. Entering through the glass block, the visitor’s first stop is the café/bar for a complimentary coffee or wine.

Then an intriguing variety of spaces ensures that each of the over twenty brands can establish its own identity.

Adding to this variety are two loft spaces, an outdoor upper terrace (off from an light-filled space with working kitchens for buffet and sit-down dinners) and a cool courtyard with a three-storey green wall.

General Manager, Syddal Wee, points out that this showroom is not just a destination, it is also an experience. He points out that a customers don’t want to go to a monobrand store “because I don’t want my house to be an extension of the brand showroom”.

“So,” he says, “having multiple premium brands gives them the ability to mix and match and personalise their preferences.”

Hence, the new showroom presents the product in what they call a “lifestyle manner”. “It connects,” says Sydall, “with the emotions.”

The new Space Asia Hub is about connection – connecting Asia, connecting quality of life with quality of design as well as connecting to the local design scene, because Space is currently exhibiting the 2011 President’s Design Awards and next year will inaugurate the Space Student Industrial/Design Programme which will enable two students a year to enjoy internships with a leading European brand beginning with Vitra in 2012.

Paul McGillick is Editorial Director of Indesign Publishing. He attended the opening the Space Asia Hub as a guest of Space Furniture.

Space Asia Hub

Space Asia Hub is now on Facebook