If you’re invited to take a seat in the home of Timo Wong and Priscilla Lui, prepare to feel overwhelmed by choice. Their living room alone features a roll call of iconic pews – Jasper Morrison’s Superoblong sofa for Capellinni, Box chairs by Enzo Mari, a Mattiazzi Medici lounge seat by Konstantin Grcic – yet there’s still plenty of room to move. “Chairs are our weakness,” says Timo, co-founder with Priscilla of Singapore’s design practice Studio Juju. “We have so many that we’ve started rotating them between our home and our studio. It’s very useful having two spaces.”
Timo and Priscilla met while working at the National University of Singapore’s Design Incubation Centre, a research hub for industrial design. A shared desire to create furniture and objects that consumers can ‘experience’, rather than simply use, prompted them to launch Studio Juju in 2009.
Timo and Priscilla met while working at the National University of Singapore’s Design Incubation Centre. They are known for their whimsical take on design typologies.
International acclaim was swift to follow. Studio Juju received the Design Report Award during Milan Design Week in 2011 and were named “Designers of the Future” at Design Miami the same year. The duo was recently commissioned to create large-scale public art installations at Singapore’s Tampines MRT Train Station and they are currently working on some pieces for a Danish design brand. “It’s very exciting, but it’s still at prototype stage,” says Priscilla. “We can’t say who the brand is, but we’re due to launch in Milan next year.”
Timo and Priscilla are known for their whimsical take on design typologies. The sinuous forms of their playful ‘Rabbit and the Tortoise’ collection of coffee tables recalls their childhood days cutting out paper shapes and drawing animals. Their Lulu collection of chairs and stools, produced for Singapore-based design and manufacturing company Industry Plus, is characterised by a sculptural form that twists and folds in a continuous curve. Their shapely Cleansing Plinth, made for Wallpaper* Handmade at the 2018 Milan Design Week is composed of two perfect circles carved from Alexandrian marble and brings an element of sophistication to rudimentary cleansing rituals.
“We’re very interested in form,” says Timo. “When we design something, the first thing that we think about is the experience of the person using it. It needs to be more than functional – people should also enjoy it. We like to design furniture and products that have a certain softness, friendliness and approachability.”
“We’re very interested in form,” says Timo. “When we design something, the first thing that we think about is the experience of the person using it.
The same may be said of Timo and Priscilla’s home. Chosen for its location by the Singapore River and sweeping views of the cityscape, the 72-square-metre apartment is modest in size and generous in character. “In a lot of apartments in Singapore, the layout doesn’t vary too much,” says Priscilla. “Our priority was to fill our home with our favourite things. That’s what we want our home to be.”
These favourite things include iconic international furniture pieces and quirky figurines on the shelving that lines the hallway. Some of their own designs, such as their Luxury Tower collection of glass jewellery vessels, have also made the cut.
When the couple moved into the apartment six years ago, they replaced the white floor tiles with polished concrete. “Bare concrete floors remind us of old-style Singapore flats,” says Timo. “This area has lots of mature estates, which we like. There are lots of new developments in the outskirts of the city centre, but they feel quite urbanised and there’s not a lot of greenery.”
Timo and Priscilla select their furniture based on its character and the regard they have for its designer.
The apartment originally had two bedrooms, but they knocked down one of the walls shortly after moving in to add more space to the living area. The wall was reinstated just before their son, Oliver, was born at the beginning of 2018: so the floorplan is now back to its previous state. A glass porthole window was added to Oliver’s bedroom door so that he can been seen but not disturbed during his afternoon naps. “We like the idea that when he wakes up he can see our faces smiling at him through the porthole,” says Timo. “It’s a bit of fun.”
Timo and Priscilla select their furniture based on its character and the regard they have for its designer. “We are big fans of Konstantin Grcic,” says Timo. “We even have a door stopper that is signed by him. I love his attitude towards creating. It’s important that a designer has their own voice and I think he breaks the mould constantly.”
Konstantin Grcic may be admired for his originality, but Timo and Priscilla cite Enzo Mari as their greatest inspiration. “We were inspired by Enzo Mari from the day we opened Studio Juju,” says Timo. “We love his approach to design – he believes that it should be available to all. His designs are so well resolved and are so simplistic and efficient.”
Timo and Priscilla recently bought four of Enzo Mari’s flaming orange Box chairs to add an extra pop of colour to their apartment. “Unfortunately, in the process of shipping, two of them broke,” says Timo. “They’re still part of our chair collection, but we keep those two in our studio.”
Photography by Khoo Guo Jie
We think you might also like The Plant Hunter – Georgina Reid